Sunday, 19 August 2012
Evangelical Pietism In Europe
Continuing from the first chapter, "Puritan Roots", my book "Passion for Israel" moves on to consider developments in Europe.
A great movement began in Europe that has followers to this day. It is called Lutheran Pietism. The founder of this movement was Jacob Philip Spenner. His colleague August Hermann Franke was also a foundational figure and made the University of Halle a center for Lutheran Pietism ... The Pietists read the literature of the Puritans, especially the devotional literature. However, they reapplied this literature in a Lutheran context, less predestinarian and less systematic than the Puritans. Out of their seeking and devotion, the Pietists developed four foundations. The first was a deep devotional life that was to be the characteristic of every believer. This devotional life was to center on Jesus as the crucified and risen Messiah. It was to be both the individual and the corporate emphasis. It was religion of the heart, not only of the mind in its logic and doctrine ... The second emphasis was the Unity of the Church. The Pietists wanted to see unity among all who truly loved the Messiah Jesus ... The third emphasis was world missions. Pietists longed to see the Gospel spread to people who had not yet received it ... The fourth emphasis is usually left out when people talk about Pietism, but it was foundational. It was a commitment and love for the Jewish people and prayer and witness toward their salvation. Some among the Pietists would become supporters of the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. They would become explicitly involved in real efforts in the 19th century.
One of the great Lutheran Pietists was Count Ludwig Von Zinzendorf. He adopted the same four stands, but spread them with even greater influence and practical involvement in the 18th century. Zinzendorf founded a community for the purpose of living out these four emphases. The Moravian church brought a unique combination of spiritual and governmental witesses to the other existing churches, yet what was also noteworthy was the passionate love for the Jewish people shared by Moravian and Pietist. Cold formality was rejected in all spiritual realms, and no less so in this concern.
So great was the influence of Pietism in Scandinavia that all four emphases swept the churches. The emphasis on loving the Jewish people and praying for their salvation was pronounced. This included a hope for their return to the land of Israel. The emphases of the Pietists and Moravians would influence many other denominations that could trace their roots to them. We indeed see such influences stemming from the Puritans on most Baptist groups as well. Methodism was really a Pietist movement in England and among Anglicans. They followed similar small group models. The Wesleys had the same hope for the salvation of the Jewish people and knew their preservation was promised by God.