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Title page from "Nordische Sammlungen", a work in German, covering the martyrdom of several Radical Pietists in Sweden.

Radical Pietism are Pietists who decided to break with denominational Lutheranism, forming separate Christian churches. Radical Pietists contrast with Church Pietists, who chose to remain within their Lutheran denominational settings. Radical Pietists distinguished between true and false Christianity (usually represented by established churches), which led to their separation from these entities.[1]

Pietism emphasized the need for a "religion of the heart" instead of the head, and was characterized by ethical purity, inward devotion, charity, asceticism, and mysticism. Leadership was empathetic to adherents instead of being strident loyalists to sacramentalism. The Pietistic movement was birthed in Germany through spiritual pioneers who wanted a deeper emotional experience rather than a preset adherence to form (no matter how genuine). They stressed a personal experience of salvation and a continuous openness to new spiritual illumination.[2]

Many of the Radical Pietists were influenced by the writings of Jakob Böhme, Gottfried Arnold, and Philipp Jakob Spener, among others. They taught that personal holiness (piety), spiritual maturity, Bible study, prayer, and fasting were essential towards "feeling the effects" of grace.

Churches in the Radical Pietist movement include the Mennonite Brethren Church, Community of True Inspiration (Inspirationalists), the Baptist General Conference, members of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (such as the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church), the Templers, the Brethren in Christ Church (as well as the Calvary Holiness Church that separated from it), the Old Order River Brethren, the United Zion Church, and the Schwarzenau Brethren.[3][4][5][6][7]

BeliefsEdit

Unlike Pietistic Lutherans, Radical Pietists believe in separation from the established Lutheran Churches.[8][9] They believe that Christians can live through direct empowerment of the Holy Ghost rather than relying on a complex hierarchy.[10] Churches in the tradition of Radical Pietism teach the necessity of the New Birth, in which one has a personal conversion experience to Christ.[2] Radical Pietists emphasize the importance of holy living and thus frequently practice fasting and prayer.[11] They also believe in nonresistance and thus "forbid Christians to shed blood."[12]

With regard to baptism, many Radical Pietists hold "that the original and apostolic form of baptism was to immerse the candidate forward into the water three times (once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Spirit)."[13] Radical Pietists also practice the lovefeast (which includes footwashing and the holy kiss), as well as closed communion.[13] The Radical Pietistic communities do not believe in the swearing of oaths and also resolve problems at the congregational level under church councils presided by elders, rather than in civil courts.[13] Members who sin openly are visited by the elders and encouraged to repent of their transgressions.[13]

Active communitiesEdit

Churches in the Radical Pietist movement include the Brethren in Christ Church (as well as the Calvary Holiness Church that separated from it), the Baptist General Conference, the Community of True Inspiration (Inspirationalists), members of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (such as the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church), the Mennonite Brethren Church, the Templers, the Old Order River Brethren, the United Zion Church, and the Schwarzenau Brethren.[3][4][14][7]

Baptist General ConferenceEdit

The Baptist General Conference emerged as a result of Radical Pietism spreading in Sweden.[3] The denomination emerged among Radical Pietists who separated from state churches and emphasizes the doctrines of "believer's baptism, a believer's church, free access to read and study Scripture, the importance of prayer and other spiritual disciplines, and a lifestyle that exhibited separation from sin."[15]

Brethren in Christ Church and Calvary Holiness ChurchEdit

The Brethren in Christ Church emerged in Lancaster County after a group of Mennonites came under influence of Radical Pietistic preachers who "emphasized spiritual passion and a warm, personal relationship to Jesus Christ."[6][3] They teach "the necessity of a crisis-conversion experience" as well as the existence of a second work of grace that "results in the believer resulting in the ability to say no to sin".[6] The Brethren in Christ Church entered into a schism in 1964 resulting in the formation of the Calvary Holiness Church, which continues to emphasize the wearing of a headcovering by women, plain dress, temperance, footwashing, and pacifism.[16] Calvary Holiness Church is considered to be a part of the conservative holiness movement.[17]

Community of True InspirationEdit

The Community of True Inspiration, today based in the Amana Colonies, are known for their reliance upon Werkzeuge who are men and women inspired by the Holy Spirit.[18] The Inspirationists' temporal affairs continue to prosper due to their "balanced combination of agriculture, tourism, and the manufacture of Amana refrigerators."[18] Adherents belonging to the Community of True Inspiration practice their Radical Pietistic faith relatively unchanged for hundreds of years.[19]

International Federation of Free Evangelical ChurchesEdit

 
Community Evangelical Free Church of Soap Lake, Washington

The Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church are denominations in the Radical Pietistic tradition that were founded by Scandinavian immigrants to the Americas.[20] They, along with other Radical Pietistic churches, founded the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches as an association of denominations around the world that "share the same Pietist approach to the faith and accept the Bible as their only creed".[21]

Mennonite BrethrenEdit

The Mennonite Brethren Church emerged among Russian Mennonites who accepted Radical Pietism.[3][22] Due to the belief in evangelism heralded by Radical Pietists, the Mennonite Brethren are characterized by their emphasis on misionary work.[22] As with other Radical Pietists, the Mennonite Brethren emphasize a personal conversion experience.[22]

Old Order River BrethrenEdit

 
Women belonging to the Old Order River Brethren, an Anabaptist denomination in the Radical Pietistic tradition

The Old Order River Brethren are an Anabaptist group in the Radical Pietistic tradition who are distinguished by their practice of plain dress and abstaining from what they see as worldly entertainment, such as the television set.[23] The Old Order River Brethren separated from other streams of the River Brethren (the Brethren in Christ and the United Zion Church) to herald the doctrines of nonresistance and nonconformity to the world; it is the most conservative in the River Brethren tradition.[24] The River Brethren hold experience meetings, in which "members [are seen] testifying of God's work in their lives in bringing them to salvation and daily living."[24] When a member has a conversion experience, he or she begins taking part in the experience meeting and then requests baptism.[24]

Schwarzenau BrethrenEdit

 
A church belonging to the Church of the Brethren, a Schwarzenau Brethren denomination that is a part of the Radical Pietistic tradition.

A Radical Pietistic community known as the Schwarzenau Brethren originated in 1708; the largest Schwarzenau Brethren community worships in the Church of the Brethren.[25] They are known for their frequent celebration of the lovefeast, which for them, consists of footwashing, supper, the holy kiss, and the Eucharist.[26]

Temple SocietyEdit

 
Templers, a Radical Pietistic community that lived in Palestine before being relocated to Australia.

The Templers are a Radical Pietistic community that emerged in Germany.[27] They promote small groups to study the Bible and emphasize preparing for the Second Coming of Christ.[27][28] Many Templers migrated to Russia, Palestine, and later to Australia where the Church is known as the Temple Society Australia.[27]

United Zion ChurchEdit

The United Zion Church is a Radical Pietist denomination in the Anabaptist, specifically River Brethren, tradition.[24] It separated from the mainstem of the River Brethren due to its allowance of meetinghouses, rather than worshipping in homes.[29][24]

Communitarian livingEdit

A common trait among some radical Pietists, is that they formed communities where they sought to revive the original Christian living of the Acts of the Apostles. Other Radical Pietists "preferred a largely solitary life of prayer, living in modest cottages or even more primitive dwellings in the hills outside of the town."[13]

Jean de Labadie (1610–1674) founded a communitarian group in Europe which was known, after its founder, as the Labadists. Johannes Kelpius (1673–1708) led a communitarian group who came to America from Germany in 1694. Conrad Beissel (1691–1768), founder of another early pietistic communitarian group, the Ephrata Cloister, was also particularly affected by Radical Pietism's emphasis on personal experience and separation from false Christianity. The Harmony Society (1785–1906), founded by George Rapp, was another German-American religious group influenced by Radical Pietism. Other groups include the Zoarite Separatists (1817–1898), and the Amana Colonies (1855-today).

In Sweden, a group of radical pietists formed a community, the "Skevikare", on an island outside of Stockholm, where they lived much like the Ephrata people, for nearly a century.[30]

Radical Pietism's role in the emergence of modern religious communities has only begun to be adequately assessed, according to Hans Schneider, professor of church history at the University of Marburg, Germany.[31]. However, this statement refers to the early era of Radical Pietism up to around 1715 while meanwhile the later era has been covered by numerous studies.

Endtime expectations, breakdown of social barriersEdit

Two other common traits of radical Pietism were their strong endtime expectations, and their breakdown of social barriers. They were very influenced by prophecies gathered and published by John Amos Comenius and Gottfried Arnold. Events like comets and lunar eclipses were seen as signs of threatening divine judgements. In Pennsylvania, Johannes Kelpius even installed a telescope on the roof of his house, where he and his followers kept watch for heavenly signs proclaiming the return of Christ.

As for the social barriers, in Germany and Sweden the familiar pronomen "thou" ("du") was commonly used among the radical Pietists. They also strongly abandoned class designation and academic degrees. Some of the barriers between men and women were also broken down. Many[quantify] radical pietistic women became well known as writers and prophets, as well as leaders of Philadelphian communities.[32]

LegacyEdit

Radical Pietism heavily influenced the development of the Methodist Churches, as well as the Moravian Church.[33][34]

Neo-Lutheranism was a Lutheran revival in reaction against pietism, and the pietistic movement in Germany declined in the 19th century. Radical pietism had an influence on Anglican religion, especially as practiced in the United States, due to German immigrants especially in Pennsylvania, and combined with the influenced of Presbyterianism and Puritanism eventually led to the development of the so-called Third Great Awakening and the emergence of radical Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism peculiar to Christianity in the United States as it developed during the later 19th to early 20th centuries.[35]

Karl Barth, who initially supported pietism, later critiqued radical pietism as creating a move towards unorthodoxy.[36] John Milbank, speaking from the perspective of Radical Orthodoxy sees his critiques as misguided, overlooking how they were able to critique modern philosophy from a theological perspective by questioning the legitimacy of philosophy as "autonomous reason", ultimately leading to the demise of Kantianism. This is then seen by Milbank as the impetus for the quick rise and failure of defenses of critical reason by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. All this is seen as culminating in the especially radical pietism in Kierkegaard, especially in his critique of Hegel. Further, he sees the theological content of radical pietism as forcing post Kantian idealisms to remain somewhat theological and characterizing certain central elements of modern philosophy, including "the priority of existence over thought; the primacy of language; the 'ecstatic' character of time; the historicity of reason; the dialogical principle; the suspension of the ethical; and the ontological difference."[37]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ronald J. Gordon: Rise of Pietism in 17th Century Germany. Located at: http://www.cob-net.org/pietism.htm
  2. ^ a b Woodbridge, John D.; III, Frank A. James (2013). Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context. Zondervan Academic. ISBN 9780310515142.
  3. ^ a b c d e Shantz, Douglas H. (2013). An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe. JHU Press. ISBN 9781421408804.
  4. ^ a b Smith, James Ward; Jamison, Albert Leland (1969). Religion in American life. Princeton University Press.
  5. ^ Ratliff, Walter R. (2010). Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva. Walter Ratliff. ISBN 9781606081334.
  6. ^ a b c Carter, Craig A. (2007). Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective. Brazos Press. ISBN 9781441201225.
  7. ^ a b Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598842043.
  8. ^ Kuenning, Paul P. (1988). The Rise and Fall of American Lutheran Pietism: The Rejection of an Activist Heritage. Mercer University Press. ISBN 9780865543065.
  9. ^ Granquist, Mark Alan (2015). Lutherans in America: A New History. Augsburg Fortress Publishers. ISBN 9781451472288.
  10. ^ Cartwright, Michael G. (2010). Exploring Christian Mission Beyond Christendom: United Methodist Perspectives. University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9781880938744.
  11. ^ Methodist History, Volume 37, Issues 2-4. Methodist Church. 1999. p. 184.
  12. ^ Archives and History: Minutes and Reports of the ... Conference on Archives and History. Concordia Historical Institute. 1983. p. 65.
  13. ^ a b c d e Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442244320.
  14. ^ Ratliff, Walter R. (2010). Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva. Walter Ratliff. ISBN 9781606081334.
  15. ^ Carlson, William G.; Gehrz, Christopher; Winn, Christian T. Collins; Holst, Eric; Collins, Gehrz; Christopher, Carlson; William, G. (2012). The Pietist Impulse in Christianity. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 9780227680001.
  16. ^ Lewis, James R. (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus Books. p. 151. ISBN 9781615927388.
  17. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1978). The Encyclopedia of American Religions. McGrath Publishing Company. p. 236.
  18. ^ a b Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199743797.
  19. ^ Schneider, Hans (2007). German Radical Pietism. Scarecrow Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780810858176.
  20. ^ Shantz, Douglas (2014). A Companion to German Pietism, 1660-1800. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9789004283862.
  21. ^ Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598842043.
  22. ^ a b c Toews, John B. (1993). A Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and North America, 1860-1990. Kindred Productions. pp. 83–85. ISBN 9780921788171.
  23. ^ Cates, James A. (2014). Serving the Amish: A Cultural Guide for Professionals. JHU Press. ISBN 9781421414959.
  24. ^ a b c d e Bronner, Simon J. (2015). Encyclopedia of American Folklife. Routledge. ISBN 9781317471950.
  25. ^ Bowman, Carl F. (1995). Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a "Peculiar People". JHU Press. ISBN 9780801849053.
  26. ^ Stutzman, Paul Fike (2011). Recovering the Love Feast: Broadening Our Eucharistic Celebrations. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781608994564.
  27. ^ a b c Ratliff, Walter R. (2010). Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva. Walter Ratliff. pp. 75–76. ISBN 9781606081334.
  28. ^ Pappé, Ilan (2015). Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid. Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 9781783605927.
  29. ^ Kurian, George Thomas; Day, Sarah Claudine (2017). The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries. Baker Books. ISBN 9781493406401.
  30. ^ Alfred Kämpe, "Främlingarna på Skevik" (1924)
  31. ^ German Radical Pietism, by Hans Schneider Archived 2007-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ German Radical Pietism/The Roots, Origin, and Terminology of Radical PietismArchived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2003. ISBN 9780852299616.
  34. ^ Concordia Theological Monthly, Volume 39. 1968. p. 257.
  35. ^ "Evangelicalism itself, I believe, is quintessentially North American phenomenon, deriving as it did from the confluence of Pietism, Presbyterianism, and the vestiges of Puritanism. Evangelicalism picked up the peculiar characteristics from each strain – warmhearted spirituality from the Pietists (for instance), doctrinal precisionism from the Presbyterians, and individualistic introspection from the Puritans – even as the North American context itself has profoundly shaped the various manifestations of evangelicalism: fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism, the holiness movement, Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and various forms of African-American and Hispanic evangelicalism." Randall Balmer (2002). The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. vii–viii.
  36. ^ [1], published in Karl Barth & the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth's Critique of Pietism & Its Response, page 24-25.
  37. ^ [2], pages 22-23.

BibliographyEdit

Books and articles in German:

  • Hans-Jürgen Schrader: Literaturproduktion und Büchermarkt des radikalen Pietismus: Johann Heinrich Reitz' "Historie der Wiedergebohrnen" und ihr geschichtlicher Kontext (Palaestra 283). Göttingen 1989.
  • Ulf-Michael Schneider: Propheten der Goethezeit. Sprache, Literatur und Wirkung der Inspirierten (Palaestra 297). Göttingen 1995.
  • Barbara Hoffmann: Radikalpietismus um 1700. Der Streit um das Recht auf eine neue Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main 1996.
  • Andreas Deppermann: Johann Jakob Schütz und die Anfänge des Pietismus. Tübingen 2002.
  • Willi Temme: Krise der Leiblichkeit. Die Sozietät der Mutter Eva (Buttlarsche Rotte) und der radikale Pietismus um 1700 (Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Pietismus 35). Göttingen 1998.
  • Johannes Burkardt/Michael Knieriem: Die Gesellschaft der Kindheit-Jesu-Genossen auf Schloss Hayn. Aus dem Nachlass des von Fleischbein und Korrespondenzen von de Marsay, Prueschenk von Lindenhofen und Tersteegen 1734 bis 1742. Hannover 2002.
  • Eberhard Fritz: Radikaler Pietismus in Württemberg. Religiöse Ideale im Konflikt mit gesellschaftlichen Realitäten (Quellen und Forschungen zur württembergischen Kirchengeschichte 18). Epfendorf 2003.
  • Eberhard Fritz: Separatistinnen und Separatisten in Württemberg und in angrenzenden Territorien. Ein biographisches Verzeichnis (Südwestdeutsche Quellen zur Familienforschung Band 3). Stuttgart 2005.
  • Hans Schneider: Radical German Pietism. Translated by Gerald MacDonald. Lanham, MD 2007.
  • Douglas H. Shantz: Between Sardis and Philadelphia: the Life and World of Pietist Court Preacher Conrad Bröske. Leiden 2008.

External linksEdit