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What Luther Says

Pietism's Connection To Revivalism

I wanted to spend some more time researching and sharing my findings on Piety and Pietism.

Not that I'm revealing anything new to the rest of you I'm sure, but this is all very new to me. Better yet, I see it as being a kind of "missing link" that helps to explain all the major reasons why I needed to leave the works-righteousness waters of American Evangelicalism for the saved by grace alone shores of the Confessional Lutheran faith.

First, here's something I found from Rev. Brandt Hoffman that we shared earlier today...

"Pietism" was a religious movement started after the 30 Years War (1618-1648). At the University of Halle, Phillip Jakb Spener was a founder and helped formulate the following points (on pietism).

1. Small, home-based (lay-led) Bible studies should be encouraged over centralized Church studies led by a Pastor.

2. Church governance should be held by the “priesthood of all believers” rather than shepherded by called and ordained servants.

3. To be saved, a Christian must be Biblically well-educated and MUST practice all avenues of a “Christian life”. (This is an intellectual and works-based heresy).

4. Pure doctrine is not important to fellowship. (Entirely unbiblical).

5. A strong devotional life MUST be accompanied with Christian training. (Being trained in the doctrine of the Apostles is not to be separated from any avenue of spiritual life.)

6. Preaching which emphasizes CONVERSION, and teaching doctrine as primary goals. (St. Paul says "We preach Christ and Him crucified." Sermons are not meant to be motivational speeches nor are they to be lectures.)

Rev. Hoffman goes on to point out that, "Mankind's fallen nature is always seeking a way to either 'help God' or to 'be God'" and notes how, "As you will see from the list, many of these 6 items have crept into historically-Biblical churches."

He's so right, isn't he? Think about your own church if not a majority of Christian churches today regardless of their denomination. This is why it's important that we recognize Pietism for what it is -- as error that should be avoided.

Boy, that's a much better summary than everything I presented in yesterday's three posts I think. With all of that in mind, I think you're going to love this entry today!

It's a 6-minute video I found of a discussion between Rev. Jonathan Fisk of Worldview Everlasting and Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, about Pietism's connection to Revivalism.

Why is any of that relevant to this discussion?

What impact have Pietism and Revivalism had on the American Christian landscape? How do you know when you are dealing with Pietism? And is Revivalism really that big of a deal anyway? Dr. Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, gives good, solid, yet short, answers to these questions about two -isms that have greatly shaped our religious landscape -- and not necessarily for the better.

I hope it's obvious from that description why we need to spend much more time studying historical Pietism within the Church so that we can better understand all of this as relates to contemporary Christianity.

Now, here's that video I mentioned...


I hope that was as helpful to you as it was to me.

See, the thing about Pietism and the kind of un-Biblical Piety that stems from it is that we all have our own levels of Piety and so we are the ones who are setting the standards for "holiness" and "righteousness" and not God or His Word.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Pietism happens when I make my Piety the judge of your faith, and then expect you to exercise your faith in the "non-essentials" in the same way I exercise mine, and that's why it's so spiritually dangerous.

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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