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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Lutheran Pietism

I have this new friend-- well, Larry himself is not new, he's been around for a few years now; but our friendship is of recent vintage-- who describes himself as a Lutheran Pietist. Now, maybe I've led a sheltered life, but I had not heard this term before; so being the inquisitive sort, I did some poking around online, trying to educate myself a bit. If you'd like to do the same, you can go here for a quick overview, as well as a more detailed description and history. The article describes four traits of the Pietist Movement:
(1) Its experiential character - pietists are people of the heart for whom Christian living is the fundamental concern;
(2) its biblical focus - pietists are, to paraphrase John Wesley, "people of one book" who take standards and goals from the pages of Scripture;
(3) its perfectionistic bent - pietists are serious about holy living and expend every effort to follow God's law, spread the gospel, and provide aid for the needy;
(4) its reforming interest - pietists usually oppose what they regard as coldness and sterility in established church forms and practices.

I need to learn more about how this is lived out; but this does not sound like a bad approach to discipleship.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tripp told me about this on our way down to your place last Thrusday, only got to read it Saturday after our meeting.
I have a comment our two, on the scholarly presentation.
It is unfortunate that Pietism is still presented as within the binary oposition between "head and Heart" and "Individual and church structure/sacarmentalism". I understand that in a sense that is historicaly accurate: that many who have called themselves pietist have emphazed "heart" over "head" and individual experience over chruch struture or theology. But, I would say they are misaplications of Spener's and Francke's ideas and intentions. And more inportantly it simply does not make sense of the Lutheran Pietist who formed the Evenagelical Covenant Church: who saw the need for a clergy well trained in Theology and saw their clergy as the ministers of Word and Sacrament. Thus, for me as a Covenanter, Lutheran Pietism is about saying that "head and heart" must always remain together neither has priority over the other. We say yes to individual experience of faith but while saying that faith only makes sense and is made possible by church structure and sacrament. A pietist who is only about the matters of the heart or practical things, who is willing to be rid of Chruch structure and who deemphasizes theology or the sacraments, is not a Lutheran Pietist. The "Lutheran" then may be read as the churchly, sacramental and theological aspect of pietism.
And yes this is a bit of a chip on my shoulder ;-}, It is just a little frustrating that few people recongize that Spener and Franke and those who followed in their foot steps were actualy trying to overcome these binary opositions and thus to live into the fullness of the Christian life and true orthodoxy.

July 26, 2004 9:51 AM  

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