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What Luther Says

Pietism's Affect Upon The Lord's Sacraments

One aspect of our on-going study of Pietism (especially as it exists within Christianity today) that we haven't really looked at is its direct affect upon the Lord's Sacraments.

For starters, Pietism removes the Holy Sacraments from their intended and rightful place within Christ's Church as His means of grace to us today.

It's just like Rev. Jonathan Fisk said in the video we looked at a couple of days ago...

"'Pietism' as a movement was a removal of the essentials -- the Word and Sacraments of Christ from the center of the Church and replacing it with your response, your heart, what you do, how you feel, how you act before God."

This is why Pietism is so spiritually dangerous, my dear friends.

Some Lutherans have argued (and I believe rightfully so) that Pietism is one of the key culprits that has caused us to celebrate the Lord's Supper less -- only every other week instead of each and every week when we come together at church.

The Lutheran website Ad Crucem tackles this question of frequency in regards to the Lord's Supper and is worth checking out. Be sure to pay close attention to the comments that follow that piece and those particularly from Pastor Matt Richard. Great stuff!

Here's how Pastor Matthew Lorfeld weighed in on Pietism in a piece he wrote back in 2011 about the Lord's Supper...

Pietism --
Pietism was a movement which emphasized: individual or small group Bible Study, the spiritual priesthood of all believers, conversion is to be followed by a change in behavior, sympathy and kindness is to be shown to the heterodox and to unbelievers, placing more importance on personal devotional life than formal religious education, a shift in the focus of preaching where the emphasis is on the sanctified life. Each of these emphases are not entirely off base as there is a kernel of orthodox Lutheran teaching in each. In Pietism the distinction between clergy and laity was blurred, the importance of the Sunday service was downplayed, more emphasis on our work was given than God’s work (ie putting sanctification at a higher place than justification), and a growing aversion to anything that looked too ceremonial or “Catholic” was injected into the Lutheran Church (such an idea was contrary to the beliefs of the early Lutherans). The result was that things like Baptism, Private Confession and Absolution with a pastor, and the Lord’s Supper were downplayed.

Yep, sadly, that describes the LCMS Church that I belong to. What about yours?

I'm afraid Pietism is alive-and-well in our Synod today thanks to American Evangelicalism's influence fueled by our fallen nature that is constantly wanting to look at our own "good works"/"sanctification" while at war with the new man.

Pietism is alive-and-well in our Synod today because the Old Adam within us would rather look at himself in the mirror to see how "Christian" he looks rather than look at Christ upon the cross to see how it's faith in Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection that makes us Christians

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, Pietism is pleasing to the Old Adam within all of us, but these are some of the key the reasons why we should be wary of it and heed the warning given to us by St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

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!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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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 and social media 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 sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training 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 arrive at the truth of God's Word (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!

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