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quietism

quietism, a heretical form of religious mysticism founded by Miguel de Molinos, a 17th-century Spanish priest. Molinism, or quietism, developed within the Roman Catholic Church in Spain and spread especially to France, where its most influential exponent was Madame Guyon. She preached her doctrines to members of the French aristocracy, winning a convert and friend in Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV's wife, and an ally in Archbishop Fénelon. Another quietist was Antoinette Bourignon. The essence of quietism is that perfection lies in the complete passivity of the soul before God and the absorption of the individual in the divine love to the point of annihilation not only of will but of all effort or desire for effort. Molinos talked about an entire cessation of self-consciousness, and Madame Guyon maintained that she could not sin, for sin was self, and she had rid herself of self. Molinos and his doctrines were condemned by Pope Innocent XI in 1687. A commission in France found most of Madame Guyon's works intolerable, and in 1699 Pope Innocent XII prohibited the circulation of Fénelon's book, the Maxims of the Saints.

See W. Backhouse and J. Janson, comp., Guide to True Peace … Composed Chiefly of Writings of Fénelon, Guyon, and Molinos (1946).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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