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CAUTION: Converting From Pietism (Or Even Exposing It) Can Lead To Legalism!

This will most likely be our final installment in our series on Piety and Pietism (at least for awhile) since I'm pretty sure we left no stone unturned in seeking the truth regarding this very serious subject.

Yes, it contains yet another great video courtesy of Rev. Jonathan Fisk and the good folks from Worldview Everlasting.

The discussion on Pietism doesn't begin until the 9:30 minute mark, but don't let that stop you from listening to those first 9:30 minutes.

Pastor Fisk tackles everything from a death threat to "the elect" to this idea that we must "balance" Law and Gospel to the major differences between Calvinism and Lutheranism -- even though the Lutheran faith isn't an -ism (right Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller?).

Pietism, Legalism, And Death Threats

One of my favorite quotes is actually about the Doctrine of Election and not necessarily Pietism (although I suppose they can go hand-in-hand if one were using Pietism rather than the merits of Jesus Christ to determine whether or not they were a "true" Christian).

"You are one of the elect because you have been baptized into Christ and there's no two beans about it! So, stop arguing with me -- that's the promise, that's the Gospel! 'Oh, but what if I don't believe!?!' If on the last day that's what you're sayin'...well then you're not the elect for goodness sakes, but why would you want to do that? See, trying to figure out whether you are the elect or not the elect apart from God's Word telling you that you are the elect is just a recipe for unbelief. You know, and that's kinda the problem. That's what we're trying to get away from, that's what the Gospel comes to clean up."

I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but that's the kind of preaching I wish I had heard all these years.

As for his comments on Pietism after reading one viewer's email? I must confess that those words could've been written by me!

Formerly an Evangelical (a.k.a. Pietist in the "bad" sense of the word), I've only been a Confessional Lutheran for about 7 or 8 months now. I can TOTALLY relate to what the person who emailed wrote about no longer feeling burdened by the weight of the Law and my old beliefs that were ultimately rooted in Pietism, but then also experiencing a VERY DISTURBING shift to the point where my sins did not seem to bother me as much as they used to since I now had Confession, Absolution, and the Lord's Supper to forgive me with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thankfully, this is not a regular occurrence, but it still happens from time-to-time if I'm being completely honest with you and myself, and so that means it happens more than enough to cause me to be seriously concerned. Romans 6:1-3 anyone?

Like Pastor Fisk said, it's ironic, because I'm flirting with becoming legalistic about not being legalistic! Having been set free from the Gospel so much (for the first time in my life perhaps?), I'm actually trying to be legalistic about being amoral without even realizing it (well, I guess I finally realize it, huh?).

I know it may seem absurd to think that I needed to hear Pastor Fisk say..

"Just because you've experienced the true freedom of the Gospel doesn't mean that you can now say that 'I guess this evil is just ok with God' No!!! It's to continue to say, 'I am a poor, miserable sinner, and that sin is real, and I wanna stop, and I'm gonna keep fighting to stop, not because it's gonna make me good, which is what the Pharisee was saying, but because like the Tax Collector knew it hurts other people, and so I really ought not to be doing it. Don't be legalistic about not being legalistic. That's the Antinomian heresy, the anti-Law heresy."

...but that's EXACTLY what I needed to be reminded of.

When you stop and think about it, this is nothing but a new kind of Pietism. It's a Pietism built on anti-Piety really. Again, this is the very real danger that we need to be aware of.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, if you're anything like me, then please be careful since converting from Pietism (or even exposing it) can lead to Legalism!

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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