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Mystiek > Over mystiek > Geschiedenis > Christelijk

Appendix (28)

Quiëtisme

The genuine French and Flemish mysticism of this period, greatly preoccupied with the doctrines of self-naughting and passivity, constantly approached the frontiers of Quietism. The three great Capuchin teachers of contemplation, the Flemings Constantine Barbançon (1581-1632) and John Evangelist of Barluke (1588-1635), and the English Benedict Canfield, were not entirely beyond suspicion in this regard; as their careful language, and the scrutiny to which they were subjected by contemporary authority, clearly shows. The line between the true and false doctrine was a fine one, as we see in the historic controversy between Bossuet and Fénelon; and the perilous absurdities of the Quietist writers often tempted the orthodox to draw it in the wrong place.

The earliest in date and most exaggerated in type of these true Quietists is the Franco-Flemish Antoinette Bourignan (1616-1680): a strong-willed and wrong-headed woman who, having renounced the world with Franciscan thoroughness, founded a sect, endured considerable persecutions, and made a great stir in the religious life of her time. An- even greater uproar resulted from the doctrinal excesses of the devout Spanish priest Miguel de Molinos (1640-1697); whose extreme teachings were condemned by the Church, and for a time brought the whole principle of passive contemplation into disrepute. Quietism, at bottom, was the unbalanced expression of that need which produced the contemporary Quaker movement in England: a need for personal contact with spiritual realities, evoked by the formal and unsatisfying quality of the official religion of the time. Unfortunately the great Quietists were not great mystics. Hence their propaganda, in which the principle of passivity - divorced from, and opposed to, all spiritual action - was pressed to its logical conclusion, resulted in a doctrine fatal not only to all organised religion but to the healthy development of the inner life.

Madame Guyon (1648-1717), the contemporary of Molinos, is usually quoted as a typical Quietist. She is an example of the unfortunate results of an alliance of mystical tendencies with a feeble surface intelligence. Had she possessed the robust common sense so often found in the great contemplatives, her temperamental inclination to passivity would have been checked, and she would hardly have made use of the exaggerated expressions which brought about the official condemnation of her works. In spite of the brilliant championship of Fénelon, and the fact that much of her writing merely reproduces orthodox teaching on contemplative prayer in an inferior form, she was involved in the general condemnation of "passive orison" which the aberrations of the extreme Quietists had called forth.

The end of the seventeenth century saw a great outburst of popular Quietism; some within and some without the official Church. Well within the frontiers of orthodoxy, and exhibiting the doctrine of passivity in its noblest form, was the Jesuit J. P. de Cauasade (still living 1739). Among those who over-stepped the boundary - though all the Quietists appealed to the general tradition of mysticism in support of their one-sided doctrine - were Malaval, whose "Theologie Mystique" contains some beautiful French translations from St. Teresa, and Peter Poiret (1646-1719), once a Protestant pastor, then the devoted disciple of Antoinette Bourignan. Later generations owe much to the enthusiasm and industry of Poiret, whose belief in spiritual quiescence was combined with great literary activity. He rescued and edited all Madame Guyon's writings; and has left us, in his "Bibliotheca Mysticorum," the memorial of many lost works on mysticism. From this unique bibliography we can see how "orthodox" was the food which nourished even the most extreme of the Quietists: how thoroughly they believed themselves to represent not a new doctrine, but the true tradition of Christian mysticism.

God is een langzame ontdekking, anders maak je jezelf maar wat wijs.
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Underhill, Evelyn: Mysticism
A study in the nature and development of Man's spiritual consciousness
Cover van Evelyn Underhill: MysticismDit boek van Evelyn Underhill is een onbetwistbare klassieker t.a.v. het onderwerp mystiek. Ook al is het in 1910 voor het eerst gepubliceerd, Underhills boek
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