Quietism brought the individual to a state of “holy indifference” where nothing mattered; particularities of Christian belief and practice, pleasures of the senses, personal desires, all vanished in the utter self-abandonment of the soul in the presence of God. The “resigned” soul simply left everything to God. This was a mode of spirituality but also a challenge to the Church and the need for its sacraments. Ecclesiastical authorities of various colors, both protestant and Roman Catholic, found this unacceptable in its earlier manifestations in the later Middle Ages and again in its heydey in the late seventeenth century. Meanwhile in the sixteenth century, adiaphora had become controversial. These were matters of Christian belief and practice about which Christian opinion could legitimately vary and which were therefore “indifferent.” This paper explores the ways in which both these controversies rose from the same underground stream of medieval dissidence, discussing the contributions of the leading characters in the story and seeking to describe the common ground of idea and ideology which unites the history and which suggests that Quietism represents an archetype among the great “positions” of Christendom.

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