Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Has Pietism Infiltrated Reformed Churches? What Is Pietism?

Bob DeWaay rightly points out in this enlightening article that any teaching that promises something extra to make someone an "elite" Christian is rightly called "pietism." In other words, most of this stuff originates in the higher life movement or the Wesleyan holiness movement. What is particularly alarming is that many Reformed churches and individuals are buying into pietism without realizing its connection with Pentecostal/Charismatic doctrine. As DeWaay points out:

The essence of pietism is this: It is a practice designed to lead to an experience that purports to give one an elite or special status compared to ordinary Christians. The Bible addresses this error in the book of Colossians.4 The false teachers in Colossae claimed to have the secret to a superior Christian experience that would cause people to rise above the bad “fate” they feared. Paul went on to explain that they already had everything they needed through Christ and His work on the cross. Another way of stating this is: If after having fully trusted Christ’s finished work on the cross, you are told that you are still lacking something, you are being taught pietism.

Church history is littered with misguided pietistic movements. Many of them are linked with mysticism. I will give examples later in this article. Pietism can be practiced many ways including enforced solitude, asceticism of various forms, man made religious practices, legalism, submission to human authorities who claim special status, and many other practices and teachings. The fact that pietism has many forms can be seen by the litany Paul gives in Colossians:
Many thanks to Paula Coyle for posting the link to this article on her wall at Facebook.  You can read the full article here:  How Pietism Deceives Christians:  The Errors of Elitist Teachings in the Church.


NewKidontheBlogg said...

How is Pietism different than Puritanism? Of course pride in ones righteousness is wrong because all our righteousness is as filthy rags. How is Pietism different than following the ten commandments?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi Carol...

Pietism is different from Puritanism in that it focuses on a spiritual elitism where there are different levels of Christians, mainly two: 1) Carnal Christians and 2) Christians who "claim" to have the victory over sinful habits/the flesh/the sinful nature, etc. In other words, it is a form of the Roman Catholic doctrine of supererogation, doing above and beyond the call of duty. But according to Luke 17:10-13, that would be impossible.

Also the Reformed position does not make different levels of being a Christian. Either you are a Christian or you are not a Christian. However, even that is not a hard and fast rule since in the Bible we see the saints were also sinful. Go through the faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11. Who is named there? Samson? He married two foreign women and consorted with prostitutes and had strong drink. David? David committed murder and adultery and had many foreign wives. Moses? He got angry and struck the rock, refused to circumcise his son, and was refused entry to the promised land.

No, sanctification can only be obtained through the appointed means of grace: the word and the sacraments. There is no secret way of obtaining a higher level of Christianity.

The article I linked to is a bit long but it is well worth the read. It's by a former charismatic, Bob DeWaay.

Kepha said...

Well, I'm certainly of the mind that one is a Christian or not. Further, I'm someone who was burned badly by the charismatic movement when young, and have an abiding scepticism of anyone born after A.D. 90 who calls himself a "prophet".

But I've become a little less willing to use "Pietist" as a bad name. It did a lot to encourage those whom it influenced to love the Word of God and to understand that living faith in Christ produces ethical fruit.

Pietist movements of the late 17th and 18th centuries did a lot of good, as did some of their aftershocks down through the 19th. While I'm more of an intellectual than and emotional Christian, I appreciate the need for heart reliigion, which was Pietism's strong suit.

I, for one, love the hymns of Gerhard Tersteegen. Among the many strands by which the Gospel came to me were people influenced by Whitefield, Wesley, Zinzendorf, and Hans Nilsson Hauge. Maybe the bread was half-baked, but it was at least bread, and allowed me to develop a love for the Word of God.

Add to this, I have a great warm spot for global mission. Much impetus for this came from groups which might be called Pietist.

Further, in Lutheran contexts, some have rightly noted that Pietism drank a bit from the wells of Reformed ethical/practical theology.

Yes, let's have the emotional and ethical side in our Reformed circles, without sacrificing the intellectual. This is an area in which, I am sure, God our Heavenly Father would like us to "have it all."

Charlie J. Ray said...

I have to disagree, Kepha. Pietism is nothing other than legalism pretending to be Christian. It is a return to Phariseeism, supererogation, and semi-pelagianism. In fact, I would argue that pietism inevitably leads back toward Rome at best and at worst it leads to liberalism.

I graduated from two schools that emphasized personal piety above doctrine and I can tell you that it always leads to self righteousness, Phariseeism, and legalism.

One is either a Christian or one is not. The means of grace are preaching, teaching the Word and partaking of the sacraments. All the elitism is simply a source for spiritual pride and arrogance and boasting.

Besides, Gordon H. Clark made a fairly good argument that the dichotomy between "heart" and "mind" is a false one.


Charlie J. Ray said...

If you read the full article by Bob DeWaay, he makes many excellent points, although I think he lets Wesley off too easily. Wesley, according to the professors at Asbury, was a big fan of William Law. Law was essentially a pelagian like Charles Finney.

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