Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Neo-Quietism vs. Neo-Jansenism

One of my favorite programs on EWTN is Fr. Charles Connor's "Catholic Church Through the Ages". For those who do not know, it is one of his several series on Church history. It resembles a classroom lecture for sure (him behind a podium) but this is a teacher to whom listening is both easy and worthwhile. A benefit of living in this diocese is that I have only to attend mass at the Cathedral to hear his homilies.

One of these episodes got me thinking.  A few re-runs ago he was talking about the 1800s and two heresies which were prominent during that era: Quietism and Jansenism. Both of which we can see either remnants or cousins today all over the place. He summarized them as I will do here, however from the outset I personally think the newer version of Quietism is much more prevalent today. This I will call Neo-quietism.

For those scratching their heads, Quietism essentially stated that all you had to do was be a good person, let God work through you and you got sent straight up to heaven when you died. You had to completely give in to God and realize there was nothing of your own that you should try and do as an act of your will to be closer to him. However if the devil or his angels tempted you then you were to give in to their demands as well. Essentially once you deemed yourself powerless to God and the Devil then you had achieved the path of salvation.   Pretty much everyone, except a small few, goes to heaven.

Related topic: Illuminati (*gasp*) from New Advent:
The name assumed by some false mystics who appeared in Spain in the sixteenth century and claimed to have direct intercourse with God. They held that the human soul can reach such a degree of perfection that it contemplates even in the present life the essence of God and comprehends the mystery of the Trinity. All external worship, they declared, is superfluous, the reception of the sacraments useless, and sin impossible in this state of complete union with Him Who is Perfection Itself. Carnal desires may be indulged and other sinful actions committed freely without staining the soul. The highest perfection attainable by the Christian consists in the elimination of all activity, the loss of individuality, and complete absorption in God (see QUIETISM).

I believe that a neo-Quietism runs amok in today's Christianity. Neo-Quietism teaches us that all "good people" go to heaven simply because of God's goodness, regardless of their sins or State of Grace. Traditional Christian teaching is too harsh even in small doses so this sort of muddy belief, which is easily accepted, gets pushed to the forefront.  Therefore you embrace God and poof you go to heaven as a general rule rather than on a case by case basis.  

Jansenism of course is the must more well known (to my knowledge) of the two. Jansenism stated that even though you are trying your darndest to be a good Christian we were all pretty much out of luck.  Men are unable to choose any good because we are always driven by concupiscence and carnal desires, or those good desires that come from Heaven, seemingly forced upon us.  Regardless, we have nothing to do with it.  We are slaves to either heaven or hell.   Only those who are predestined can get to heaven.  Everyone else should get ready to bake.

Neo-Jansenism is a little different from traditional Jansenism though it resembles its older cousin in several ways.  Some would probably say  that only those who adhere to the Traditional Roman Rite get to heaven.  Certainly they would slam the door to all non-Catholics in general no matter what.    The path to heaven is given to you only if you were somehow dropped into life within driving distance of a TLM.  This even exists in some non-Catholic circles too.  King James-onlyism type of places probably are more subject to this than your mainline denominations.  Could you imagine the magnitude of the problem we would all have if to be saved it were necessary to attend Pastor Jim-Bobs Holy Bible Fellowship (KJV) of Southern Midwestern Arkansas?  Of course there are quite a few harsh groups out there claiming the denial of God's mercy to anyone less than they.  A few come to mind but I am loathe to link to their websites because of their vileness.  

Anyway you get the point.  I for one believe these two heresies are still working their way around us today, though by different names; and we should be careful not to fall prey to their teachings.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton