Lutheran Orthodoxy and Pietism

I spent much of last year studying the Reformation.

I’m currently studying the period between the Peace of Augsburg and the Enlightenment and exploring how Lutheranism continued to evolve in Northern Europe in the late 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. This period is roughly bounded by Luther’s death and Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher which begin the modern era within Lutheranism.

It consists of three stages: the creation of a doctrinal consensus within Lutheranism by Luther’s successors that became the Lutheran Confessions, the Age of Orthodoxy which lasted from 1580 until the Enlightenment during which Lutheranism was the basis of the social order in Northern Europe and the Pietist movement within the church after the Thirty Years’ War which sparked the broader age of evangelicalism within Protestantism in the Anglo world.

Why is this so fascinating? It interests me because during this period liberalism is not yet the basis of the social order in Northern Europe as it is today. Each Lutheran territory is governed by a prince or a king. Lutheranism is the official state religion. The church and state are integrated. There is a homogeneous culture although toward the end of this period Calvinism becomes tolerated by the Hohenzollerns in Prussia. French Huguenot refugees settled in Brandenberg after the Edict of Nantes was revoked by Louis XIV in France. Simply put, it was very different from the Anglo world where the conflict between Anglicanism and Calvinism culminated in the English Civil War and the growth of liberalism and latitudinarianism that followed.

There was a major difference between the Prussia of Frederick I and the Britain of Queen Anne around the turn of the 18th century. Liberalism was beginning to germinate in England and the Netherlands around this time. We can watch these ideas grow and radiate outward in a series of stages: 1675 to 1700, 1700 to 1725, 1725 to 1750 and 1750 to 1775. It starts out almost nonexistent in the Lutheran world and by the end of this period it has become fashionable in France and the German world. Kant in Königsberg in East Prussia was the most influential Enlightenment philosopher. He was raised and educated as a Pietist though.

This period between the Reformation and the Enlightenment is the soil in which liberalism sprouted. I want to have a better understanding of it. Lutheranism went from essentially being a state religion that organized life in absolutist states in Northern Europe and where over the course of nearly two centuries there was almost zero missionary activity into what is today where transgender Latinas are being ordained as Lutheran pastors.

Note: I don’t expect this will be of much interest to most readers. I am very interested though in tracing the growth of liberalism and particularly the impact it had on Lutheranism. This is a pet project of mine.

About Hunter Wallace 9105 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

9 Comments

  1. Why was Protestantism so bad at resisting liberalism?

    Catholicism is awful, but some Catholic societies did resist liberalism somewhat longer, although they also existed at a lower level of social equilibrium. More primitive Catholic societies often got a secondary infection of liberalism, instead of creating it themselves, they adopted it later on once liberalism was already power.

    Islam is awful, but they did pretty well resisting liberalism., although they also existed at a lower level of social equilibrium.

    Basically, thinking about Christianity and taking it seriously seems to be inherently destabilizing. And Christianity is best at maintaining stability when people don’t think about it, don’t read about it and understand it.

    Protestantism let the camel’s nose into the tent. It let people start thinking about Christianity and start reading about it and start coming up with their own ideas about it. (And not just Priests who have an incentive to maintain the status quo)

    And that was the end of conservative, stable Christianity. Eventually, it spells the end for Christianity altogether.

    Liberalism (aka secularized, post-Christianity, based on a new, more plausible set of superstitions) *could* have just been a phase that we passed through.

    Unfortunately, it was so virulent, but also so retarded that it set up a perfect storm scenario where the most powerful societies were also the most vulnerable to a particularly (((horrible parasite))). And the rest is history.

  2. “This period between the Reformation and the Enlightenment is the soil in which liberalism sprouted. I want to have a better understanding of it. Lutheranism went from essentially being a state religion that organized life in absolutist states in Northern Europe and where over the course of nearly two centuries there was almost zero missionary activity into what is today where transgender Latinas are being ordained as Lutheran pastors.”

    What changed was the departure from strict Augustinianism/Pauline NT Thought, into Arminian/Pietist/outright Pelagianism in all the protestant sects, as well as the RCC, with their contrasting emphases AWAY from the Reformers.

    Instead of the doctrines of Grace, sovereign Election, and Absolute Predestination we have ‘the sinner making a decision for Christ, emotional (female) ‘feels’ and the supposed ‘movement of the Spirit’ all across the board, from the pseudo-faggotry of Wesley, to Finney’s outright blasphemies in the USA, with the attendant heresies of Jos. Smith, and his variant on Wesleyan Arminian ‘You can be a god on THIS WORLD’ Moron-ism, to the Campbellite heresy, to Margaret McDonald’ ‘visions’ which led to the Chiliastic Dispensational error, and all the rest.

    THAT is what happened. This has been chronicled all over the place in Reformed theological circles for decades- it’s why you still don’t “get it” Brad. Lutheranism was already partially Arminian in a number of ways, and his confusion about what Calvin REALLY believed in the Real Presence (and his stubborn German pride) caused the rift between the Calvinists and the other Augustinian Reformers, the Lutherans, right at the beginning.

    When even an Orthodox Hierarch [Cyril Loukaris] can form a moderately reformed/Calvinist confession of Faith, and almost get away with it, you are seeing the fear of a truly PAULINE revival that could have spread like wildfire, if people had only been willing to submit to their betters. But the Presbys wouldn’t have Bishops, the Congregationalists would have Presbyteries, and the Damned Baptists wouldn’t have anyone, and there you are.

    Anarchy. And the 250,000 Protestant sects, cults, divisions, jurisdictions, etc. today.

  3. Sorry, Clarification. “…and his [ Luther’s] confusion about what Calvin REALLY believed in the Real Presence (and his [ Luther’s] stubborn German pride). Verzeihung, Meine Fehle.

  4. I find it interesting for one, Hunter, so I hope you will continue to share your findings here with us. If I may ask a question, are you also researching this subject as part of an attempt to come up with an alternative system to liberalism for the current times?

  5. We can watch these ideas grow and radiate outward in a series of stages: 1675 to 1700, 1700 to 1725, 1725 to 1750 and 1750 to 1775. It starts out almost nonexistent in the Lutheran world and by the end of this period it has become fashionable in France and the German world.

    What was happening in America over this time period? Americans moved with astonishing rapidity from Cotton Mather to Thomas Paine.

    • It’s all there. The ‘halfway covenant,’ the rise of Methodism, the Congregationalist desire to be their own bishops (without the piety, sacraments, grace, or intellect of the Episcopal class) and the importation of Voltaire, Endarkenment philosophy, etc. There’s a book that ‘almost’ gets it right, called ” “Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West” by Kevin Swanson. But, unlike the far more ‘catholic’ works of the late Francis Schaeffer (père), this book stops before ‘naming the Jew’ or ‘not hating on the ‘consensus patrum.’

  6. Today, I went to church for the first time in many years. Not from any desire to convert to Christianity but as a communal experience and respect for family and heritage. As I sat through the prayers and sermon, the irrational metaphysical jargon was jarring to my thinking mind which was trying to reconcile it into some greater order. To avoid emanating waves of disturbance through the group consciousness, I reminded myself why I was there and entered a state of mindfulness to transcend the thinking mind.

    As I did this, I saw and heard finite contingent human beings pleading and yearning for grace, mercy, salvation, and hope reflecting my own humanity. Regardless of the irrational forms, the immanent humanity was heavy and a spirit of humility, solemness, gratitude, and communion filled the room.

    Yes, Jesus was a Jewish Mediterranean peasant who lived and died under the Roman Empire. No, he wasn’t the Infinite Deity who created and sustains all of reality. And that’s okay because somehow human beings can still continually transform this myth to enable them to live more meaningful lives today and into the future.

    The criticisms of the pagans and Nietzscheans are rational, but, I’d mostly likely rather spend time with Christians than them….

    Ha!

    Two good books among a plethora of many others offering an alternative viewpoint regarding Jesus and Christianity:

    1. God and Empire: Jesus against Rome, Then and Now. John Dominic Crossan

    https://www.johndominiccrossan.com/God%20&%20Empire.htm

    2. Living Buddha, Living Christ. Thich Nhat Hanh

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/73184.Living_Buddha_Living_Christ

    • https://www.openbible.info/topics/weapons

      Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

      Lol

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