Pietism Is Just Another Name For Subjective, Emotional, Experiential Christianity

C.S. Lewis is often quoted as saying, "Christianity is an education, not an experience."

I thought about that today after listening to another superb Issues, Etc. interview from 2010 between Pastor Todd Wilken and Dr. Ron Feuerhahn of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO.

In the last couple of entries we published on Pietism, we looked at "Americanizing" the Lutheran Church and the key differences between Lutheran Piety and American Evangelical Piety.

Building off of those truths, today, we consider Pietism's real spiritual dangers for the individual Christian (and entire congregation even) as it can lead to a wholly subjective, emotional, experiential form of Christianity.




AUDIO: Pietism - Subjective, Emotional, Experiential Christianity



Web Extras From The Interview:
Dr. Feuerhahn On Pietism And CFW Walther
Dr. Feuerhahn On Pietism And Creeds And Confessions
Dr. Feuerhahn On Pietism And ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson
Dr. Feuerhahn On Pietism And The Prussian Union


I couldn't have said it any better than Pastor Wilken who opened the show by pointing out that if there was one word and one word only to describe American Christianity both in the past and presently, then it would have to be Pietism.

That's why it behooves us (did I actually use the word "behoove" in a sentence? ha!) to make sure we understand what it is and why it's so dangerous to our cherished and shared faith.

Do you find the phraseology "A Living Faith" versus "A Dead Faith" rather interesting? I do. This is all we're hearing at the church where I'm a member of today, but the deception lies in the fact that what people mean when they uses such phrases and terminology is not what you might typically expect.

This is the same type of language that Philip Jakob Spener, the father of the Pietist Movement, used from the very beginning. Speaking of Spener, Dr. Ron Feuerhahn mentioned him within the first few minutes of the program. We haven't really talked about him much in this series (and should have by now) and so we'll be taking a closer look at him soon, God willing.

I also found the discussion in the second segment about "conventicles" or what we know today as "small groups" to be Exhibit A when it comes to determining if a particular church is guilty of allowing Pietism to take root and to infect it.

At my church, the impression is that the Small Group Bible Study is way more important than the Lord's Sacraments. Now, no one would ever dare admit to that publicly, but their actions betray them.

Worse, people like me are left feeling like we're "bad Christians" simply because we don't wish to attend a layman led Small Group Bible Study. Give me a Pastor as the leader of the Bible study and I'll change my tune, but until then, it's not gonna happen due to what usually happens.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with Pietism is that it robs Christians of the assurance of their salvation when the Lord wants us to have assurance.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, we must be careful because Pietism is just another name for subjective, emotional, experiential Christianity and those are not good things at all for the individual Christian let alone Christ's Church at large.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!