The Age of Pietism Gave Us UOJ
Martin Luther lived 1483-1546. Melanchthon lived 1497-1560.
The 95 Theses were written in 1517.
The Augsburg Confession in 1530, the Book of Concord compiled in 1580.
Zwingli died on the battlefield in 1529.
Calvin published his Institutes in 1536 and lived until 1564.
Spener published his Pious Wishes in 1675.
Halle University was established in 1694, under Spener’s direction.
Muhlenberg came to America, a graduate of Halle, in 1742.
Knapp lectured at Halle University, where he had been a student, and became a full professor in 1782.
Woods translated Knapp’s theology lectures into English in 1831.
Walther landed in New Orleans with the Stephan group in 1839.
Hoenecke graduated from Halle in 1859.
All false doctrine begins with Enthusiasm, the separation of the Holy Spirit from the Word. Zwingli and Calvin were Swiss pioneers of this error in Protestantism, as shown in the Biblical section. Zwingli said arrogantly, that the Holy Spirit does not need a vehicle, like an ox cart. Calvin said as much, though more elegantly. Zwingli died early, on the battlefield and published relatively little. Calvin’s ministry was much longer and he published extensively, including a complete set of Biblical commentaries still used today. The two leaders established a break with the Lutheran Reformation, in spite of many conferences and discussions. This essential difference, Enthusiasm, remains the divide between Biblical Lutheran doctrine, the historic Christian faith, and all false religion.
The second source of Enthusiasm came from Philipp Jakob Spener, who modeled his cell group method after Labadie’s, a Calvinist and former Roman Catholic. Intense Roman Catholic piety is encouraged in small groups, perhaps because the large scale Mass is so impersonal and mechanical. The falsehoods of Roman Catholicism are also due to Enthusiasm. The Holy Spirit works primarily through the Pope, who is considered and proclaimed the conduit of God’s grace, the ultimate keeper of the keys. Roman Catholics are encouraged to participate in lengthy, intense, and emotional prayer meetings, with rosaries and objects of devotion, such as the relics of saints. Every single Roman Catholic parish has a relic from a saint, certified by the Vatican, built into the altar. Many have noticed the parallel between Roman Catholic sanctification, with its emphasis upon receiving grace from prayer, and the Reformed sects, which also emphasize grace coming from prayer.
Spener started Pietism with his Pia Desideria (Pious Wishes) in 1675. He wrote a long essay as an introduction to a popular orthodox book of sermons by Johann Arndt, so Arndt's book served inadvertently as a launching pad for Pietism.
Hallmarks of Pietism are:
- A heart religion instead of a head religion, they claim. Pietists often mention that false distinction.
- Lay-led conventicles or cell groups, to develop piety through prayer and Bible study. Spener began cell groups in 1699.
- Unionism - cooperation between Lutherans and the Reformed. Spener was the first union theologian (Heick, II, p. 23).
- An emphasis on good works and foreign missions. "Deeds, not creeds" is a popular motto.
- Denial of the Real Presence and baptismal regeneration, consequences of working with the Reformed. (Heick, II, p. 24)
- A better, higher, or deeper form of Christianity rather than the Sunday worshiping church. This often made the cell group the real church, the gathered church, superior to those who merely worship and participate in the Means of Grace.
The issue for justification is the source of God’s grace in forgiveness. The Scriptures, the Book of Concord, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and all the orthodox Lutherans teach that grace comes only from the Means of Grace. The non-Lutheran Protestants deny this. Roman Catholics use the term Means of Grace, but they apply a different meaning, because they have seven sacraments that fail to deliver complete and free forgiveness of sin. Purgatory is that place where forgiveness is earned through countless years of torture. Pietism is the Protestant version of that style of sanctification.
Spener influenced the ruler to found Halle University in 1694, to teach actual Biblical studies, which had been neglected in favor of ferocious dogmatic struggles between the Lutherans and Calvinists. Halle and the charitable foundations around it became so imbued with sacred awe that no one could question the school, Spener, or its influence.
Few appreciate the substance, scope, and continuing influence of Pietism among the Lutherans in America. Spener had such a reputation among Lutherans that very few criticized him. Walther, who blasted many religious figures in his journalistic fervor, never dealt with Spener in his famous Law and Gospel lectures. Walther experienced an awakening through the Pietists and worked in Pietistic circles, before he came to America under Bishop Stephan, a Pietist.
Walther was no different from other American Lutheran pioneers:
- Muhlenberg came over from Halle University, the center of European Pietism, a school created to promote Pietism. Thus the LCA’s Muhlenberg tradition was an extension of Halle’s Pietism.
- The Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes were Pietists, with certain exceptions - the Happy Danes.
- The Wisconsin Synod’s most famous theologian, Adolph Hoenecke, was trained at Halle University under Tholuck, the last of the true Pietists, although he admitted being a Universalist.
In short, this means that almost all Lutheran church bodies in America, from the colonial Muhlenberg tradition (the Lutheran Church in America) to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (1917) were Pietistic in origin.
Pietism was unionistic from the beginning, and Spener is considered the first union theologian. His compromise over doctrine, making love more important, enabled Lutherans and other Protestants to work together without doctrinal agreement, a situation that led to a complete lack of doctrinal discernment and ultimately Unitarianism. His emphasis upon lay leadership and cell groups also moved people into an experiential form of worship, where feelings mattered far more than fidelity to the Word of God. The Confessions became insignificant because they were considered divisive.
Given the sacrosanct status of Pietism among American Lutherans, the copying of the double- justification scheme from Halle professor George Christian Knapp was only natural. He was highly respected as the last old-fashioned Pietist at Halle. Significantly, Halle was honored as the center of all that American Lutherans admired and emulated. Probably few then realized how far Halle had fallen in basic doctrine, just as few realize today how bad their “conservative” seminaries are – in the lap of Fuller, Willow Creek, and New Agers like Leonard Sweet.
Untouchables – Franke, Zinzendorf, Bengel, Burk
Francke met with Spener, adopted his program, and got into a world of trouble over Pietism. Spener had Francke appointed to the newly established Halle University. Francke remained there as a professor and pastor of a congregation for the next 36 years. His energy spread the influence of Pietism, both in his charity work (Halle Orphanage) and his Biblical teaching.
Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760) had a profound effect on the spread of Pietism, not only through his contact and friendship with Wesley, but also by being the father of world missions. Methodism is another form of Pietism. The English Methodist George Scott influenced Carl Olaf Rosenius, who founded Swedish Pietism. Zinzendorf is also known for his "Come Lord Jesus" prayer and his hymns.
Pietistic hymns emphasize the blood of Jesus because of the influence of Johann Albrecht Bengel, famous for his Gnomon. (Heick, II, p. 25) Bengel's son-in-law, Burk, may be the inventor of Objective Justification. Burk e is credited by Hoenecke for this statement:
Hoenecke: “And Ph. D. Burk (Rechtfertigung und Versicherung, p. 41) rightly said:
‘The difference between general justification and the more common usage of the term justification can be expressed as follows. The latter takes place precisely upon the appropriation of the former.’
An emphasis upon general justification is necessary in order to safeguard the material content of the Gospel.
We need furnish no extraordinary proof in regard to the justification of the individual sinner; let us suffice with the story of the publican. Justification takes place in the one who appeals to the grace of God, but it does not take place in the Pharisee. And the entirety of Scripture demonstrates that he who believes is always justified; this applies to every individual, the moment that faith is kindled in him.” (Hoenecke, III, p. 354)
Stepping Stones to Modernism – Tholuck, Schleiermacher, Barth
Tholuck is considered the last of the Pietists who taught at Halle. The rest were rationalists. Although Tholuck is largely forgotten, he is important for two reasons. One is his role as mentor of Adolph Hoenecke, the dogmatician who helped the Pietistic and unionistic Wisconsin Synod become Lutheran. Another is his reputation for being a bridge between the old Pietists who had faith and the new theologians who were rationalists. Tholuck was a blend, who took the Objective Justification of old Knapp and turned it into Universalism. Tholuck was a confessed Univesalist who simply declared that all men are saved. That does not make Hoenecke a Universalist, but the historical facts help the student of theology see the UOJ connections to Pietism.
Friederich Schleiermacher, 1768-1834, was a Halle student and faculty member. He is the most important modern Halle professor, a pioneer of faith without belief, essential for such later theologians as Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. The modern theologians, with few exceptions, write about the articles of faith but make it clear that they reject the topics they consider with their enormous volumes.
Karl Barth dominated the 20th century, thanks to long life and his joint-publication of the Dogmatics, which was largely written by his live-in mistress Charlotte Kirschbaum. Although known as a critic of Schleiermacher and a classical theologian (!), Barth extended the influence of faith without belief. He was—and probably still is—the central theologian for Fuller Seminary. He turned several Fuller leaders against inerrancy, who re-fashioned the school into a large-scale factory for liberal Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Missouri and WELS pastors.
Victory of Pietism
The current state of the Lutheran Church in North America constitutes proof that the visible expressions of the church have done more than lose their doctrinal heritage – they have consciously and persistently rejected it in favor of Enthusiasm, the source of all false doctrine.
This rejection has been the work of Lutheran Pietism, a curious amalgamation of Calvinistic doctrine and Lutheran identity, with Lutheran doctrine on the scaffold and Calvinism on the throne – and in the hangman’s role.
Some visible proofs of the victory of Pietism over Lutheran doctrine are:
- Hatred of the Confessions.
- Repudiation of Luther’s work.
- Rejection of the historic liturgy and the Creeds.
- Sermons replaced by coaching talks.
- Cell groups.
- Predominance of the Law, but chiefly man-made law, such as “You must be growing.”
- Antinomianism, as if God’s Law is obsolete.
- Silence about the efficacy of the Word.
- Avoidance of the Means of Grace, or weak-kneed lip-service to this Biblical concept.
- Receptionism in Holy Communion.
- Tawdry gimmicks used in place of evangelism through the Word.
- Obvious persecution of faithful pastors and shunning of faithful laity.
- Promoting, defending, and rewarding false teachers.
- Seminaries and colleges providing a tawdry Calvinistic education, with no one objecting.
- District and synod officials in cahoots with the false teachers.
- Feminist dogma leading to de facto women’s ordination.
- Unionism with every possible sect.
- Division, tension, hostility, polarization.
- The silence of the shepherds and the slaughter of the lambs.
 “His translation of Georg Christian Knapp's Christian Theology (1831-1833) established his reputation, which was enhanced by his leadership in religious education. Strangely, his disastrous double-justification formula is remembered, but his name is unknown among Lutherans.
 Rosenius and Scott are identified with the Swedish Pietism of the Augustana Synod, whose college and seminary were established in Rock Island, Illinois. Augustana came under the influence of orthodoxy through Eric Norelius being trained at Capital Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. The more Pietistic side of this Swedish immigration to America formed the Mission Covenant and Evangelical Free denominations, both known today for their Church Growthism.
Narrow-minded Lutheran has left a new comment on your post "The Age of Pietism Gave Us UOJ":
Thanks for this post. One has to wonder why the Lutherans left the Prussian Union, toiled to get here, toiled to get established here, then immediately returned to the same old heresies.
What is equally ironic is that the Reformed guys, in an attempt to disassociate themselves with anything appearing remotely Roman, have created their own papacies, as you well-noted above.
Perhaps we could someday do a study of Grabau and the Buffalo Synod, as I can't find much material on the subject. Since everyone in today's Lutherdom seems to put down Grabau and the Buffalo Synod, they may have been doing something right. After all, if you're not a Walther idolater, you could be labeled a "hyper-Euro."
Thanks again for this post.
GJ - WELS, Missouri, and the ELS are so far away from Luther's doctrine that I am amazed they claim the name. No wait, they are jettisoning that now too. Good for them. I list myself as Church of the Augsburg Confession on Facebook. Lutheran means nothing when Ye Olde Synodical Conference runs down ELCA while working with ELCA on ELCA's terms.
WELS has topped that by denouncing the gaity of ELCA while publishing its own homosexual video on YouTube and Facebook, featuring its college students, one of them doing a Michael Jackson move, something too perverse for the Fire Island boys.
The current posts on justification are all from the book. Hoenecke did fascicle publishing of the Dogmatics. I am doing the same with a blog - cheaper and faster, and bound to please the tree-huggers.