by Gary DeLashmutt
The purpose of this research project is to examine the early German Lutheran Pietists' understanding of justification. Specifically, the teaching of Johann Arndt, Philip Jacob Spener and August Hermann Francke will be studied. Three specific areas of their view of justification will be examined: the basis of justification, the relationship between justification and sanctification, and the role of baptism in justification.
An effort has been made to identify and study the primary sources of each of the above Pietists in these doctrinal areas. Direct quotation of their works accompany and substantiate any assertion concerning their teaching. Secondary sources have also been evaluated for additional interaction in the interpretation of the primary sources.
Consideration has also been given to the theological and political climate of Protestantism during the seventeenth century. This has been done in order to assure fairness in evaluating the doctrinal emphases of the Pietists.
The Background of German Pietism
Like all religious movements, German Pietism was, at least in part, a reaction to the spiritual and political climate of its day. Any attempt to understand the theological emphases of Arndt, Spener and Francke must therefore be preceded by an overview of the religious and political climate in which they lived.
The Religious Situation
The most important factor in German Lutheranism just prior to the emergence of Pietism was its rigid confessionalism, or Verkonfessionalisierung.
After Luther died in 1546, Lutheran scholars tried to precisely formulate the doctrines of the Christian faith as they understood them. This was felt to be necessary since the Lutherans were experiencing acute doctrinal pressure from both aggressive Calvinists and Jesuit Catholics.Footnote1 Two camps developed within Lutheranism: the "Philippists", who, following the example of Luther's mentor Philip Melanchthon, emphasized the common doctrinal ground that they shared with the Calvinists, and the "Gnesio-Lutherans", who held rigidly to Luther's main tenets and regarded all other groups with suspicion. It was the Gnesio-Lutherans who won out in this struggle for ascendancy.Footnote2 The Formula of Concord of 1580 formally resolved the doctrinal disputes within Lutheranism.Footnote3
With its center at the University of WittenbergFootnote4, the same school from which Luther launched the Reformation, Lutheranism lapsed into a rigid orthodoxy and sterile scholasticism. Ironically, though Luther had unseated Thomist scholasticism from its throne of power over theology, the Lutheran scholars of this period consciously reintroduced it in order to formulate their doctrinal statements.Footnote5 The University of Wittenberg declared that the resulting creedal formulations of Lutheranism "possessed the force of divinely revealed and binding truth, not only in matters of doctrine, but in all affairs."Footnote6
This defensive, heavily dogmatic emphasis produced Lutheran Confessionalism--a dead orthodoxy that Luther would hardly have desired. Stoeffler describes this confessionalism and its effects on how people came to view Christianity.
It (Verkonfessionalisierung) refers to the rigid confessionalizing of Lutheranism which was undertaken by its seventeenth century theologians. The process was aided by the reappearance of Aristotelianism in German universities and gymnasia early during that century. The result was an unprecedented hardening of Lutheran doctrine. Not only did the guardians of orthodoxy endeavor to keep pure the teachings of the communion but the truth had to be stated in accepted phrases. Any deviation in phraseology was immediately viewed with great suspicion. After John Gerhard the various minutiae of the seventeenth century systems of Lutheran theology had to be treated in proper order and sequence so as not to raise apprehensions of heresy. In this heavily dogmatic atmosphere the essence of Christianity came to be regarded as consisting in a series of rationally ordered propositions. Faith had been largely re-defined so as to consist in personal assent to those propositions. Confessional theology and Christianity were regarded as almost synonymous.Footnote7
Brown is similarly critical in his evaluation of Lutheran Confessionalism, viewing it as a virtual reversal of the Reformation:
Negatively, some have felt that in Protestant Scholasticism we have an "intellectual Pelegianism" in which the good works of the medieval church were exchanged for the works of understanding. Aristotle, who had been thrown out the front door, quickly came in the back. Justification by faith became one of the dogmas instead of the source of dogma. Luther's God, who was a Thou, became an It. The testimony of the Holy Spirit became a mere intellectual process of increasing acquaintance with the truth. Though there was an apotheosis of the Bible, the Scriptures were used primarily as proof texts to verify the creedal dogmas.Footnote8
Spener, writing in Pia Desideria, similarly complained about the scholasticism of Lutheran Confessionalism:
Although by God's grace we still have pure doctrine derived from the Word of God, we cannot deny that much that is alien, useless, and reminiscent of the world's wisdom has here and there been gradually introduced into theology.Footnote9
Since the pastors were being educated in this spiritual climate, it is not surprising that their preaching consisted mainly of dogmatic expositions of Lutheran doctrine and polemical denunciations of Catholicism and Calvinism, rather than applied scripture which would build up the spiritual life of their congregations.Footnote10
The Political Situation
The spiritual unhealthy of late sixteenth century Germany was further aggravated by the political situation. Two factors in the political situation helped stir the spiritual hunger of the people who responded to the Pietists' message.
The Thirty Years War
The Thirty Years War lasted from 1609 until 1637, although the Peace of Westphalia which formally ended the war was not signed until 1648.Footnote11 This war, fought largely because of the religious intolerance between Catholic and Protestant rulers, devastated Europe worse than any other war before the twentieth century.
The war ended without any genuine resolution. The rulers simply wearied of the bloodshed and economic loss caused by it. The Peace of Westphalia granted to both rulers and subjects "freedom of religion"--as long as they were Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed. Although this increased religious tolerance was an improvement, it was not promulgated by the political rulers "out of a deeper understanding of Christian love, but rather out of a growing indifference to religious matters."Footnote12
This same indifference spread to the common people, whose lives were devastated by the war. The war had the effect of weakening the people's moral fiber. Cruelty and drunkenness became commonplace among the peasants. Their spiritual malaise was further aggravated by the ruthless and uninhibited behavior of both rulers and soldiers.Footnote13 "The seemingly interminable war raised religious doubts among the laity and generated indifference to moral and spiritual matters."Footnote14
The German State-Church Relationship
For a variety of reasons which lie outside the scope of this project, Luther did not sever the state's control over the church at the time of the Reformation. This wedding of church and state had a damaging effect on the spiritual health of German Lutherans for two reasons.
First, with the church and state under common jurisdiction, the church's power to exercise discipline with its members was limited by the agreement of the state rulers. As Stoeffler says,
Under the circumstances no presbyterial element had an opportunity to develop within Lutheranism. In most instances the churches and clergy were at the mercy of territorial rulers, the latter being often dissolute and seldom devout. Even if Lutheranism had developed a concept of church discipline, which it did not, effective discipline would have been difficult under these conditions.Footnote15
Since church discipline is one of the means Christ provided to maintain the church's spiritual vitalityFootnote16, its absence from German Lutheranism left the church much more vulnerable to spiritual decay.
A state-run church tends to lower the collective spirituality of the church in another way. Since everyone is supposedly a Christian in a state which is "Christian," the society does not tend to rise to the ethical or spiritual quality of the church. Rather, the church tends to conform to the society. This was certainly the case in seventeenth century Germany.Footnote17
The Resultant Nominalism
The factors described above combined in German Lutheranism in the seventeenth century to produce a form of Christianity which was nominal both in practice and in doctrine.
Confessional Lutheranism was doctrinally nominal because it defined being a Christian almost exclusively in terms of mental affirmation of Lutheran dogma.Footnote18 Nicolaus Amsdorf, a theologian of this period, even went so far as to teach that good works were hurtful to the Christian life since they could foster a doctrine of justification by works!Footnote19 Stoeffler describes this doctrinal nominalism:
When their rigidly objective interpretation of justification was joined to an equally objective interpretation of baptismal regeneration the centrality of the saving relationship was rather effectively eliminated from seventeenth century Lutheran orthodoxy. The Christian was now thought to be a person who interprets the Bible in terms of the Lutheran symbols as the truth of these symbols is expressed in an orthodox system of theology. Fiducia had become assensus, the liberty of the Christian man had given way to the tyranny of scholastic theology, and the Bible had once again become an arsenal of proof texts.Footnote20
This gross distortion of the theology of Paul and (to a lesser extent) Luther had the predictable effect of producing a behavioral nominalism that was worse than that of other post-Reformation Protestant churches. The laity had little appreciation of Christianity as a way of life as well as a series of doctrinal beliefs.Footnote21 Though the churches were well attended, there was little evidence of ethical transformation which was encouraged and manifested in the New Testament church. Personal spiritual devotion was replaced by superficial and mechanical religious observanceFootnote22 which God, speaking through the Old Testament prophets, says He hates.Footnote23 In Arndt, Spener and Francke, a similar prophetic voice was sounded.
Early Lutheran Pietists
Johann Arndt (1555-1621) has been widely acknowledged as the theological father of German Lutheran Pietism.Footnote24 As a Lutheran pastor and a scholar of Luther's writings, his True Christianity (1605) was the first German Pietist work to challenge the spiritual maladies of Lutheran orthodoxy.
Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) is credited with forging the ideas of Arndt into a reform movement within Lutheranism.Footnote25 Like Arndt, he was a Lutheran pastor and scholar. He was deeply influenced by True Christianity, and in 1675, he wrote a foreword to a new edition of True Christianity. This foreword, reissued separately a year later, was entitled Pia Desideria, or Heartfelt Desire for a God-pleasing Reform of the True Evangelical Church, Together with Several Simple Christian Proposals Looking Toward this End. As the title suggests, this work not only critiqued the spiritual state of German Lutheranism; it also outlined a plan of reform. It was greeted with an enthusiastic response by many German people, but with sharp criticism by much of the the clergy. In his subsequent works, Spener continued to outline the needed reform of the Lutheran church.
August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) was Spener's disciple and friend. As a Lutheran pastor, he found himself in conflict with other Lutheran clergymen after undergoing a profound conversion experience. As a result of Spener's influence, Francke was invited to become professor of Greek and Oriental languages at the newly formed University of Halle. Under his leadership, Halle became a key means of Pietist reform as it trained men for the Lutheran pastorate who were taught the theology and practice of Arndt, Spener and Francke.Footnote26
The Basis of Justification
The critical rediscovery of Luther and the Reformers was the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. God legally cancels the debt of our sins and imputes Christ's righteousness to us when we place our faith in Christ and His work on the cross to make us acceptable to God. Arndt, Spener and Francke completely agreed with this doctrine. Their impact was the result not of a different view of justification, but of a different definition of the faith that effects justification.
Justification by Faith Alone
Many Lutheran Confessionalists accused Arndt, Spener and Francke of teaching justification by works, or of confusing justification with sanctification.Footnote27 However, an examination of their writings proves that all three men believed that justification is by grace through faith alone, and that justification must precede sanctification.
Because Arndt was aware of the accusations leveled at him, he went out of his way to state his Lutheran orthodoxy in this area of theology. The following quotes clearly reveal Arndt's view of justification.
You must take care that you do not connect your works and the virtues that you have begun, or the gifts of the new life, with your justification before God, for none of man's works, merit, gifts, or virtue, however lovely these may be, count for anything. Our justification depends on the exalted, perfect merit of Jesus Christ, received by faith, as it is sufficiently discussed in chapters 5, 19, 34, and 41 of this book, and in the first three chapters of Book II. Take great care, therefore, not to confound the righteousness of faith with the righteousness of the Christian life, but make a clear distinction between them . . . Footnote28
Through this faith (in Christ) we receive forgiveness of sins, in no other way than through pure grace without any of our own merits (Eph. 2:8) but only by the merits of Christ . . . Even if it (our faith) is weak and we are still hemmed around with many sins, these are covered over out of grace for Christ's sake . . . From this you can see that works cannot make you righteous. First, you must be established in Christ through faith and be righteous in him before you can do any good work. See to it indeed that your righteousness is the grace and gift of God that comes before all your merit.Footnote29
In like manner, Spener clarified to his accusers the orthodoxy of his view of justification. Three passages will suffice to demonstrate this.
We gladly acknowledge that we must be saved only and alone through faith and that our works or godly life contribute neither much nor little to our salvation, for as a fruit of our faith our works are connected with the gratitude which we owe to God, who has already given us who believe the gift of righteousness and salvation. Far be it from us to depart even a finger's breadth from this teaching, for we would rather give up our life and the whole world than yield the smallest part of it.Footnote30
I know, believe and teach that as far as our justification is concerned, it takes place out of pure grace for the sake of Christ and is not in the least reflected directly or indirectly by our holiness or righteousness. If anyone should endeavor to mix anything of human worthiness, I would oppose that person from the bottom of my soul . . . none of our works or merits avail anything but only the merits of Christ, not what He has done in us but for us by Him. When we say that faith saves, I understand that such saving is not a work of faith as if it were a virtue that we possessed and therefore belong among works but that one receives justification only by God's grace and Christ's merit alone.Footnote31
" No, for Christ alone has made satisfaction for us by his sacrifice, and he who wishes to add to it his own sacrifice for atonement blasphemes the sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:14).Footnote32
"Ought we not also bring such sacrifices (ourselves and our good works) to God the Lord in order to make atonement for our sins?
Francke also clearly stated his theology of justification in terms designed to disprove all charges of heresy.
1. We are justified only by faith in the Lord Jesus without merit or the addition of work in that the Heavenly Father because of the perfect satisfaction and the precious merit of his Son judges us free and liberated from all our sins.
2. Through this justification, which occurs through faith, the justified person becomes completely and totally perfect; indeed, it is seen as the justification of God himself, as St. Paul writes: God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the justification of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Just as God looks on the Lord Christ as sin (because our sins were reckoned to him), so he sees the sinner as just and completely perfect because he gives to the sinner as the sinner's own the innocence and righteousness of Christ.
3. He who does not have this perfection cannot become holy. Perfection is nothing other than faith in the Lord Jesus and is not in us or ours but in Christ or of Christ for whose sake we are considered perfect before God and thus his perfection is ours by ascription . . .
10. From this it follows that both the following statements are true in a certain sense: We are perfect, and we are not perfect. Namely, we are perfect through Christ and in Christ through our justification and according to the righteousness of Christ ascribed to us. However, we are not and will not be completely perfect in the sense that we will nevermore be able to grow, to set aside evil and to take on good toward sanctification.
11. The one who does not wish to err in this matter must distinguish well the article concerning justification and that concerning renovation or sanctification. Otherwise he will increasingly become entangled in controversy. . . . Footnote33 . . . God having thus received me into his grace by faith in his son Jesus, I am not at one time justified and at another time not: but I am always and constantly in God's favor . . . Footnote34
Faith as Fiducia
One of the the key contributions of the Pietists to Protestantism's view of justification was its insistence that justifying faith is fiducia rather than assensus.
The Pietists insisted that biblical faith is more than merely mentally assenting to doctrinal truths (assensus); it is a personal faith (fiducia) which lays hold of the life of Christ and therefore results in regeneration and sanctification. To prove that this definition of faith was no doctrinal innovation, Spener was fond of quoting Luther's "Preface to Romans, " where he says,
But it (unbiblical faith) is a human imagination an idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, and so nothing comes of it and no betterment follows it. Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1:13). It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men of us in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith, and it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are good works to do, but before the question rises it has already done them and is always at the doing of them . . . "Footnote35
Luther did not develop or emphasize this dimension of faith because his primary battle was against the works soteriology of Roman Catholicism. But the Pietists did develop and emphasize it because their battle was against the dead orthodoxy of Confessional Lutheranism.Footnote36 This passage from Luther thus became a key part of their defense that they were not overturning the Reformation, but merely continuing it.Footnote37
Arndt develops this view of faith as one of his main themes in True Christianity.Footnote38
True Christianity consists, not in words or in external show, but in living faith, from which arise righteous fruits, and all manner of Christian virtues, as from Christ himself.Footnote39
Note that faith consists in living, consoling trust and not in empty sounds and words . . . This is true knowledge of God, which arises out of experience and consists in living faith. Therefore, the Epistle to the Hebrews calls faith a substance, a being, an undeniable witness (Heb. 11:1). This is a piece of the inner, spiritual worship, the knowledge of God, which consists in living faith, and faith is a spiritual, living, heavenly gift, light and power of God.Footnote40
In the living and working faith and in the following of the holy life of Christ, the true living knowledge of Christ consists.Footnote41
Spener stresses the personal and experiential dimension of biblical faith in "Christian Joy."
The basis of joy (is) the assurance of divine grace. Joy is not without peace; it follows upon justification that is upon forgiveness of sins (Rom. 5:1; 1 John 3:21). True faith takes on such assurance; insofar as we are joyous insofar do we believe . . . Ps. 73:18. This faith brings it about that we know the proper good because we have and have grasped it as a present reality. . .Footnote42
In Pia Desideria, Spener stresses the spiritual dimension of biblical faith and the moral change it effects.
Accordingly they (i.e., nominal Lutherans) have such a fleshly illusion of faith (for godly faith does not exist without the Holy Spirit, nor can such faith continue when deliberate sins prevail) in the place of faith that saves . . . So it is that all those who live under the rule of sin, with the consequence that they have no capacity for the Holy Spirit and hence for true faith, can have no other kind of faith than such human delusion."Footnote43
That Francke agreed with Arndt's and Spener's view of true faith is evident from his comments in "A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Most Useful Way of Preaching."
. . . let a minister carefully and clearly distinguish . . . between mere morality and true religion, between the moral honest man and the believer who, from a deep conviction of the depravity of his nature and the errors of his life, has learned to hate sin from his heart and lives by the faith of the Son of God . . . to enquire if . . . they can find in themselves the genuine marks of a true conversion to God, and a living faith in Christ . . . Footnote44
The Relationship Between Justification and Sanctification
It is in their understanding of the relationship between justification and sanctification that Arndt, Spener and Francke made their greatest impact on Protestantism. Though historians do not deny the fact of their impact in this area, they hotly debate the value of it. Some regard German Pietism as a terrible aberration of Reformation soteriology.Footnote45 Others regard it as the recovery and development of the true soteriological spirit of the Reformation.Footnote46 It falls outside the scope of this project to make a detailed study of Luther's understanding of the relationship between justification and sanctification. Rather, the views of these three German Pietists will be surveyed and evaluated.
Justification is Evidenced by Sanctification
It was the emphasis on fiducia that developed German Pietism's view of sanctification. The kind of faith which justifies is also the kind of faith that regenerates and sanctifies.Footnote47 If there is no evidence of sanctification, there is no evidence for regeneration and therefore no evidence for justification. Sanctification thus becomes the proof that one has been justified.
Passages from True Christianity and The Garden of Paradise suggest that although Arndt believed in justification by faith, he saw sanctification as a non-optional component of justification to such an extent that sanctification is a practical evidence of justification.Footnote48
Since Christ now lives and dwells in you through faith, his indwelling is not a dead work but a living work . . . it renews you in Christ so that you grow, blossom, and live in him. What is the use of a graft in a stem if it does grow and bring forth fruit?Footnote49
How can a person who believes on Christ at the same time have a desire to sin, not wish to leave sin, for which Christ had to pay with his blood and death, and with his life? . . . Therefore, all those who call themselves Christians crucify Christ again and hold him up to contempt . . . They cannot partake of the sufferings of Christ for they have tread on the blood of Christ with their feet . . . they must experience the righteous judgment of God . . . Footnote50
Christ understood the whole newborn man, the tree with its fruits, renewed through faith, in which Christ lives and dwells through faith. Such faith he will find in few. Where one does not follow Christ in his life through faith, there is neither faith nor Christ, but that one is cast out and denied.Footnote51
Where Christ is, a holy life exists in man . . . This relationship and unity of Christian faith and life is described in 2 Peter 1:5ff. . . . Peter says expressly: The person who does not have such unity and Christian faith does not know Christ; he has lost faith and walks in darkness. That is true faith which renews and makes the whole man alive in Christ so that Christ lives and remains in him and he in Christ.Footnote52
It is a most false and absurd thing for any one to profess himself a Christian, and yet to lead at the same time an unchristian life; or to pretend to faith and the true church, and yet never produce any of its true and genuine fruits . . . Footnote53
The passages above show that Arndt wrote in such a way that he left himself vulnerable to the false charge of teaching justification by works.Footnote54 Even though this charge is refuted by Arndt's affirmation of justification by faith, he is in this writer's opinion excessively rigid because he does not describe sanctification as a gradual process punctuated by moral lapses.
Spener was also accused of teaching justification by works by many orthodox Lutheran theologians of his day.Footnote55 The following statements explain Spener's vulnerability to this charge.
. . . this sin (drunkenness), too, must once and for all be renounced if they are to be children of God . . . unless such sins are earnestly and resolutely rooted out these vicious and unrepentant persons will lose their salvation . . . If some advance the argument that drunkenness cannot be so grave a sin because, if it were, there would be very few true Christians among us, I shall accept the conclusion . . . "Footnote56
For Godly faith cannot exist without the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit cannot exist along side of premeditated and prevailing sins.Footnote57
As the faith, which alone justifies us and makes us holy, is inseparable from good works, so no one will be justified other than those who are intent upon sanctification."Footnote58
. . . pure doctrine and holy living must necessarily be united in the case of those who want to be saved . . . Footnote59
On the basis of passages like these, Brown is correct when he says that Spener saw good works as "a conditio sin quo non, necessary attributes which inhere in salvation."Footnote60 He also seems to share Arndt's excessively rigid view of sanctification which does not allow for serious moral lapses.
Francke focused on propagating Spener's understanding of Christianity, so it is not surprising that we find in his works the same emphasis sanctification as the evidence of justification.Footnote61 In Francke's writings, though, there is a much greater emphasis on the love of God which motivates sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit which empowers sanctification. Perhaps this emphasis was Francke's corrective to the harsh language used by Arndt and Spener concerning the necessity of sanctification for those who wish to be justified.
6. If the newborn Christian acknowledges such sins of the flesh, he strives with all earnestness against the evil which arises in his flesh. And he does so not through his own power and strength, . . . but through the spirit (sic) and he depends on the power of Jesus Christ which is made sanctification for him and conquers the evil in him.
7. In such sinful habits and crimes the justified man remains, however, never standing in one position, but through the grace of God he sets aside ever more and more the evil, and day to day grows in faith and in love . . . Footnote62
Insomuch as I cease from all my workings and am convinced that of myself I can do nothing but sin . . . but depend purely on God's grace . . . my heart begets new strength . . . and the new man, as a good tree, breaks out in blossoms which send forth a sweet odor and bears fruits that are acceptable to God and man. It is not another way by which I have been justified and again another by which I seek to be sanctified, but it is one in the same way, to wit, Christ. . .As I depend on nothing but Christ whenever I pray for forgiveness of sins, so I depend on him alone and turn to his grace and power only whenever I desire to be strengthened in faith, love, and hope. Yes, all that I have to do is to abide by in the grace which I have received . . . Then the work of God will be accomplished in me. For God wants none of my help for the accomplishment of his work. If I do but suffer myself to be prepared by him like a child in the mother's womb, not resisting the operations of his spirit, then he himself will work in me whatever is pleasing to him. Nevertheless it is by no means his will that I should be inattentive; and, instead of true resignation, fall into negligence or seek rest and peace in nature. For thereby I should even imperceptibly lose his workings.Footnote63
. . . it is a very great moment that a minister not only instruct his hearers what they must do and how they ought to act, but that he also labor fully to apprise and to convince them by the evidence of Scripture of their own native weakness and impotency for all that is spiritually good. And that he further show them, by the same word of truth from which they must look for, and from whom they may hope to receive, all grace and strength, not only to renew their souls in their first conversion but also afterwards to enable them to perform every duty as well of inward religion. They must be told that they can do nothing without Christ, according as he has assured us, Jn. 15:5, "Without me ye can do nothing" . . . Thus the holy apostles preached. These were the topics which they insisted much upon, and if their example is not followed in this matter, it will be no wonder if our modern preaching comes vastly short of the success of theirs. And by this means some of our hearers will be in danger of sinking into a mere legal frame and spirit of bondage while they are pressed to duty and working, but not encouraged by the grace of Christ nor directed where to look for strength to perform it.Footnote64
The love of Christ ought to be much more insisted on by preachers than what is commonly done, because when we apply ourselves in right manner to his passion, death, and atonement, his merit and that purchase of salvation which he hath made for us, the knowledge of his love to us, and of our pardon and justification through faith in his blood, it is the truest spring and most powerful attraction of our love to him. Now the more we love Christ and that for this very reason, `because he first loved us,' the better will every branch of our religion flourish, every other grace and every duty will flow from its proper fountain. Therefore, the more a minister endeavors to instill this principle of sacred love into the hearts of his hearers, the more comfortable success will he probably see of his labors in their spiritual improvement and growing obedience to the gospel.Footnote65
Arndt, Spener and Francke reestablished the biblical relationship between justification and sanctification which had been practically severed by Confessionalist Lutheranism. By insisting that those who are justified will evidence it by sanctification, they implicitly called into question the doctrinal validity of Confessionalism, which did not stress any practical connection between justification and sanctification. This is probably the reason for the Confessionalist's severe attack on the Pietists.
While this emphasis is the proper corrective to dead orthodoxyFootnote66, it can easily lead in practice to a legalistic emphasis on good works which forgets that sanctification is a gradual process punctuated by moral lapses.Footnote67 In this writer's opinion, Arndt and Spener were vulnerable to this interpretation by those who read them. Francke appears to have best understood this danger and supplied the corrective to this tendency in his emphasis on God's role in sanctification.
The Relationship Between Justification and Water Baptism
It is fair to say that in their doctrinal understanding of the ritual of water baptism, Arndt, Spener and Francke agreed with each other and with the doctrine of classic German Lutheranism. But they were reacting against what they saw as a mechanical view of baptism promoted by their Confessionalist contemporaries.
Their Doctrinal Understanding
Arndt, Spener and Francke agreed with Luther that infant water baptism was a means of "prevenient grace" whereby the infant was placed in objective state of grace by God.Footnote68 In keeping with Lutheran teaching, they also insisted that baptismal grace must be later confirmed by faith in Christ to actually effect justification.Footnote69 Because they were accused by the Confessionalists of Pelagianism, all three men sought to refute this charge by affirming the Lutheran view of baptism.
Arndt expressed his belief that one's objective standing with God was changed through infant baptism in all of his important written works. Consider the following passages.
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you who have. . .instituted the holy sacrament of baptism. . .I thank you from the heart that You have through this sacrament led me into the holy Christian Church and thereby made me a partner of all your heavenly and eternal benefits. . .through baptism you have clothed me with your holy obedience, merit, righteousness, holiness, and innocence. Through the waters of baptism the Holy Spirit has created new life and changed a sinner into one who has been justified. . .You have received me because of your eternal grace and promise and bound me unto Yourself through this means of grace. . .Footnote70
Through the Holy Spirit's power and activity, man is newborn. The new birth occurs first through the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:4). This is what the Lord calls "to be born of the Spirit." Secondly, it occurs through faith (I Jn. 5:1). In the third place it occurs through holy baptism (Jn. 3:5).Footnote71
As a means to it (our salvation), holy baptism is ordered by which we are baptized in the death of Christ so that we might die with Christ to our sins by the power of his death and once again arise from our sins through the power of his resurrection.Footnote72
Where the Spirit of God is, there also is the Spirit's power, salvation, regeneration, renewal; all this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we know that we are born again through baptism. . .and cleansed from our sins.Footnote73
Spener was in complete agreement with Arndt in his view of baptism, as is made clear in the following citations.
Nor do I know how to praise Baptism and its power highly enough. I believe that it is the real "washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5), or as Luther says in the Catechism, "it effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants (not merely promises) eternal salvation".Footnote74
Since by it we are united to Christ, and so all become members of one spiritual body, this communion also imposes the obligation that one member shall, according to his ability, further the best welfare of the other (I Cor. 12:18; Eph. 4:15f.).Footnote75
"How does Baptism point to it (our obligation to build up other Christians)?"
In baptism the old man dies so that thereby we testify that we no longer live but what the Lord lives and that the new man is hereafter to live and work in us. In the Holy Communion we eat the body and blood of the Lord so that he is ever closer and increasingly united with us, and that he lives in us much more so than we live in ourselves (Gal. 2:20).Footnote76
As in the Old Testament, priests were not elected but born thereto, so also the new birth in baptism is that which gives us the divine adoption as sons and the spiritual priesthood connected to it.Footnote77
"How do Christians become priests?"
According to Stoeffler, Francke agreed with the position of Arndt and Spener on baptism.
In faithfulness to his Lutheran heritage Francke also spoke at times of baptism as a means toward entering the new life . . . It appears to have been his belief that the baptized infant finds himself in a relation of special divine solicitude. . ."Footnote78
The Necessity of Fiducia
The real difference between Arndt, Spener and Francke and the Lutheran Confessionalists was on their insistence that baptismal grace must be confirmed by personal faith (fiducia) in Christ rather than mere mental assent (assensus) to doctrine if it is to have any lasting value.
The Confessionalists' view of Christianity did not emphasize the necessity of making a personal commitment to trust Christ for one's justification. As has already been shown, they held that mental assent to the creedal statements was sufficient. With such a perspective typically comes a corresponding belief in ritual as efficacious in itself.Footnote79 Thus, it was commonly assumed that unless someone expressly denied Christ, they had "faith" in Christ and thus remained in the state of baptismal grace conferred upon them as an infant. For all intents and purposes then, many Germans believed that they permanently entered a state of grace at infant baptism.
While the German Pietists did not reject the Lutheran doctrine of baptism, they reaffirmed that it could not keep a person in a state of grace unless that individual came to personal faith in Christ. By emphasizing the personal nature of saving faith and the moral change by which it was evidenced, they rejected the validity of mental assent faith. This in turn led them to warn against depending upon the abiding efficacy of infant baptism. They saw this negative emphasis as necessary in order to call people to genuine faith; one's false security in baptism must often first be destroyed before one will come to true saving faith.
In True Christianity, Arndt does not expressly state that infant baptism must be coupled with personal faith in order to stay in a state of grace. Rather, one reaches this conclusion as a logical inference by his emphasis on the nature of saving faith and its necessity. As Stoeffler says,
" . . . Arndt held the historic Lutheran view of baptism. In point of fact, however, he said little about it and put the emphasis on conversion, oneness with Christ, and a holy life." Footnote80
What was a logical inference from Arndt became an open declaration with Spener. Two statements from Pia Desideria make this clear.
Just as the above illusion of faith as the only means of salvation from our side does great harm, so from the side of the divine means of Word and sacraments the shameful illusion of an opus operatum is added. This is not less harmful to the church, leads many people to damnation, and strengthens the aforementioned false notion of what true faith is. We cannot deny--on the contrary, daily experience convinces us--that there are not a few who think that all that Christianity requires of them (and that having done this, they have done quite enough in their service of God) is that they be baptized, hear the preaching of God's Word, confess and receive absolution, and go to the Lord's Supper, no matter how their hearts are disposed at the time, whether or not there are fruits which follow, provided they at least live in such a way that the civil authorities do not find them liable to punishment . . . It (baptism) will be in vain that you comfort yourself in your Baptism and in its promise of grace and salvation if for your part you do not also remain in the covenant of faith and a good conscience or, having departed therefrom, return to it with sincere repentance. Accordingly if your Baptism is to benefit you, it must remain in constant use throughout your life.Footnote81
Nor is it enough to be baptized, but the inner man, where we have put on Christ in Baptism, must also keep Christ on and bear witness to him in our outward life.Footnote82
Francke continued Spener's emphasis on the uselessness of baptism unless it was accompanied by personal faith.
Thus you ought not to say, "I am baptized, I go to church, I am a Christian." The hypocrites do the same. There is many a person baptized who yet went back on his oath and was faithless and fell out of his baptismal covenant . . . You must make no decisions (about whether you are justified) because you follow externals (i.e. baptism, church attendance, communion). The Scripture is directed to your heart and indicates how you must find proper certainty and be sealed by the Spirit of God. You must receive the Spirit of God from God and from it you must know how richly you are graced by God. See, there you are commanded, there you might know what happens in the heart of God for your sake, whether God loves you, whether you are his child.Footnote83
Arndt, Spener and Francke held an orthodox Lutheran view of baptism. They saw baptism as a means of prevenient grace which must be confirmed in adult life by personal faith in Christ in order to have permanent validity. They disagreed, however, with both the Confessionalists' and the common people's view of baptism who essentially viewed it as a permanent entrance into grace. They struggled to maintain the Lutheran view of baptism while stressing the supreme importance of personal faith in Christ as the sole assurance of salvation.
It is the opinion of this writer that Arndt, Spener and Francke were struggling with a Lutheran doctrine which was logically contradictory and biblically unnecessary.
There is an inherent logical tension in the Lutheran doctrine on baptism which Arndt, Spener and Francke inherited. On the one hand, Lutheran doctrine affirms that baptism effects an objective change in the infant's standing with God, placing the infant in the sphere of God's grace. On the other hand, it affirms the necessity of exercising faith in Christ in order to be justified. Many have noted the difficulty of understanding why faith is necessary if baptism places one under grace, or why baptism is effective if faith is what justifies.Footnote84
It is evident from the writings of both Luther and the Lutheran Pietists that the source of this "tension" is their interpretation of several New Testament passages which teach that "baptism" objectively changes our relationship with God.Footnote85 It appears that neither Luther nor the Lutheran Pietists ever seriously questioned the Roman Catholic interpretation of these passages as referring to Christian water baptism. If it is granted that these passages refer instead to the baptism by the Holy Spirit into Christ (I Cor. 12:13), an invisible event which occurs at the moment of faith (Eph. 1:13,14), the apparent biblical and logical "contradiction" disappears. Water baptism is then understood as an outward affirmation of what has already taken place at the moment of personal faith in Christ (see Acts 10:44-47).
Rather than challenge the Lutheran doctrine of baptism, the Lutheran Pietists simply emphasized the necessity of coupling baptism with personal faith. But the tension inherent in Lutheran baptismal doctrine was such that many later Pietists wrestled with their views of baptism.Footnote86 The adoption of believers-only baptism became one of the distinctives of the Radical Pietists.
Arndt, Spener and Francke were in agreement with Luther and Lutheran orthodoxy that justification is a gift of legal righteousness received by faith alone.
They were insistent that the faith that justifies is a living, personal faith (fiducia) rather than a barren mental assent to orthodox creeds (assensus). In this area, they were more in keeping with the teaching of Luther than their Confessionalist contemporaries, though admittedly Luther did not develop this theme to a great degree.
Arndt, Spener and Francke were also in agreement with Luther and Lutheran orthodoxy about the meaning of baptism as a means of prevenient grace which must be later confirmed by personal faith. But their emphasis on fiducia as necessary for justification led them to decry the false confidence that many Germans had placed in their baptism as an ex oper operato rite.
From their insistence on living faith, they concluded logically, biblically and experientially that sanctification will follow and give evidence of justification. It was this position that called forth from their Confessionalist contemporaries the charge that they were overturning the Reformation by reintroducing works as a condition for justification.
Throughout their lives, Arndt, Spener and Francke consistently denied that they were overturning the doctrine of the Reformation. They did not even claim to be "completing" the Reformation that Luther began, though some have charged that they did. Rather, they saw themselves as a reform movement within Lutheranism, calling for a return to the spiritual dynamic between justification and sanctification that they read in scripture and in Luther, and that they had experienced in their own lives.Footnote87
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Arndt, Johann. The Garden of Paradise. London: J. Downing, 1716.
Arndt, Johann. True Christianity. Translated by Peter Erb. New York: Paulist Press, 1979.
Brown, Dale. Understanding Pietism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978.
Deeter, Allan C. "An Historical and Theological Introduction to Phillip Jakob Spener's Pia Desideria: A Study in Early German Pietism". Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1963.
Drummond, Andrew L. German Protestantism Since Luther. London: The Epworth Press, 1951.
Ensign, David E. "Radical German Pietism (c. 1675 - c. 1760)". Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1955.
Erb, Peter C., ed. Pietists: Selected Writings. New York: Paulist Press, 1983.
Erb, Peter C. "Brethren in the Early Eighteenth Century: An Unpublished Contemporary Account". Brethren Life and Thought. 22 (Spring 1977):105-112.
Grunberg, Paul. Philipp Jakob Spener. 3 vols. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1893-1906.
Hallbrooks, G. Thomas, ed. Pietism. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1981.
Hickman, James T. "Spener's Pietism: Spiritual Fire". Christianity Today, May 21,1976 pp. 6-8.
Payne, Richard J., ed. Pietists: Selected Writings. New York: Paulist Pres, 1983.
Sattler, Gary R. "August Hermann Francke and Mysticism". Covenant Quarterly. 38 (November 1980):3-17.
Sattler, Gary R. God's Glory, Neighbor's Good. Chicago: Covenant Press, 1982.
Skarsten, Trygve R. "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective". Trinity Seminary Review. 3 (Fall 1981):20-28.
Spener, Philip Jacob. Pia Desideria. Translated by Theodore G. Tappert. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964.
Spink, George Samuel. "John Arndt's Religious Thought: A Study in German Proto-Pietism". Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 1970.
Stoeffler, Ernest F. German Pietism During the Eighteenth Century. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973.
Stoeffler, Ernest F. The Rise of Evangelical Pietism. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1965.
Stoffer, Dale R. "Gottfried Arnold's View of the Christian Life". Brethren Life and Thought. 26 (Autumn 1981):237-246.
Stoffer, Dale R. "The Life and Thought of Gottfried Arnold". Brethren Life and Thought. 26 (Summer 1981):135-151.
Stoffer, Dale R. "The Background and Development of Thought and Practice in the German Baptist Brethren (Dunker) and the Brethren (Progressive) Churches (c. 1650-1979)". Ph.D. dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1980.
Thompson, Clark A. "Motifs in Eighteenth Century Pietism". Ph.D. dissertation, Brown University, 1974.
Toon, Peter. Justification and Sanctification. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1983.
Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978), p. 22.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1965), p. 182.
Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), p. 3.
Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 23.
Erb says the Lutheran Scholastics got their methodology from Melanchthon, who got it from the earlier (Catholic) scholastics. See Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 3.
Andrew L. Drummond, German Protestantism Since Luther (London: The Epworth Press, 1951), p. 52.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism , pp. 182,183.
Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 24.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 51.
The practical results of this kind of training were almost solely polemical and/or explanatory sermons, emphasis on rhetoric and academic learning, decline in catechetical instruction and prayer, priority of study of theology over exegesis, and a lifestyle indistinguishable from those who didn't study theology. Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, pp. 24,25.
Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2 (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), pp. 135-141.
Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2, p. 140.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, pp. 181,182.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 186.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 185.
Paul indicates this in 1 Cor. 5:6-8, where he says that serious sin which goes undisciplined is like "leaven" which leavens the rest of the loaf (the local church). Properly exercised, it has the ability to restore the spiritual vitality of the local church so that the believers walk in "sincerity and truth."
"Quite as serious is another difficulty which is always associated with a territorial church. In such a situation nearly everybody who happens to be born, baptized, and confirmed in a particular territory is a member of the Church. Under these circumstances the Christian ethic tends to lose itself in a commonly accepted folk morality. This is especially true when the emphasis of the Church's witness is upon assent to doctrinal truth and when the doctrine of the Christian calling is watered down to mean little more than obedience to authority and acceptance of the status quo." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 185.
"The basic requirement for being a Christian was to recognize these statements of church doctrine as being the authoritative formulations of the essence of divine revelation contained in Scripture. All the people had to do was accept them. In the meantime, the vitality of the people's faith declined, and their spiritual lives suffered." G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1981), p. 149. Stoeffler concurs with this evaluation when he says that "the emphasis of the Church's witness (was) upon assent to doctrinal truth. . ." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 185.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 183.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, pp. 183,184. Confessional Lutheranism's usage of the word assensus to define biblical faith became a key area of Pietistic criticism as we will see.
". . .the doctrine of the Christian calling (was) watered down to mean little more than obedience to authority and acceptance of the status quo." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 185.
"People attended church partly because they were required to do so by law, and attendance was sometimes thought of as a good work whose mere performance gave them credit in God's sight. Even more was participation in the Lord's Supper regarded as an act which had a mechanical effect on one's relation to God, and most people were regular communicants, whether once a year, once a quarter, or (occasionally) once an month." Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, translation and introduction by Theodore G. Tappert, pp. 7,8.
The denunciation of this sin formed one of the major themes of the Old Testament prophets. See Is. 1:10-20;29:13,14; Jer. 7:21-23; Amos 5:21-27; Hos. 6:6; Micah 6:6-8.
"The father of Lutheran Pietism is not Spener but John Arndt. . .That Lutheran Pietism in the seventeenth century took its rise with Arndt and ended with Spener is quite obvious to anyone acquainted with this development." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, pp. 202,203.
See G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, p. 151.
See Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 9.
Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 83.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), p. 24.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 45.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 63.
Philip Jacob Spener, Theologische Bedencken (Halle: Waysenhaus, 1702), 4:435, cited in Trygve R. Skarsten, "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective", Trinity Seminary Review, 3 (Fall 1981):27.
Philip Jacob Spener: "The Spiritual Priesthood", translated from Hauptschriften, bearbeitet und eingeleitet von Paul Grunberg (Gotha, 1889), Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 53.
August Hermann Francke, "On Christian Perfection", trans. from Gustav Kramer, August Hermann Francke: Ein Lebensbild (Halle, 1880), Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, pp. 114,115.
August Hermann Francke, The Holy and Sure Way of Faith of an Evangelical Christian, cited in G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, p. 289.
Martin Luther, "Preface to the Epistle of Romans," cited in Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, pp. 219,220. Francke also refers to this passage in his Autobiography. See Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 106.
". . .Spener believed that. . .his ministerial colleagues did not have to deal (like Luther) with people who wanted to become blessed from good works as much as with those who regarded them as unnecessary and impossible." Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 95. "This (the Lutheran orthodoxy of his day) caused him to stress the meaning of faith as fiducia rather than the more current emphasis on faith as assensus. While Arndt understood and accepted the traditional Lutheran teaching of justification by faith alone he desired to stress the idea that justification is meaningless from the position of the individual who needs salvation unless it is personally appropriated in fiducial commitment." George Samuel Spink, "John Arndt's Religious Thought: A Study in German Proto-Pietism" (Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 1970), p. 156.
"Precisely at a time when Lutherans were understandably intent upon defending the heritage of the Reformation. . .Arndt discerned behind the theological conclusions of Luther the function of doctrine as the perimeter around the experience of penance and salvation; in short, he brought to light again the spontaneity of Christian service as the true fruit of a living faith. Arndt is entitled to the honor of being the first "Luther scholar" to see, underscore, and apply Luther's vision that justification by faith alone does not preclude but, to the contrary, unleashes good works in terms of the whole Christian, his action in the Church and in the world." Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, preface by Heiko A. Oberman, p. xv.
"It (faith) is in essence, he thought, absolute trust in Christ and commitment to him. Here he differed markedly from many of his contemporaries to whom faith at best was trust in a historic act rather than commitment to a person." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, pp. 207,208.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 23.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 112.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 277.
Philip Jacob Spener, "Christian Joy", Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 94.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, pp. 219,220.
August Hermann Francke, "A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Most Useful Way of Preaching", Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 118.
The most influential example of this negative perspective is Albrecht Ritschl, The History of Pietism, 3 Volumes (Bonn, 1880-1886), reprint Berlin, 1966.
"Arndt discerned behind the theological conclusions of Luther the function of doctrine as the perimeter around the experience of penance and salvation; in short, he brought to light again the spontaneity of Christian service as the true fruit of a living faith. Arndt is entitled to the honor of being the first `Luther scholar' to see, underscore, and apply Luther's vision that justification by faith alone does not preclude but, to the contrary, unleashes good works in terms of the whole Christian, his action in the Church and in the world." Heiko A. Oberman's preface in Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), p. xv.
"Pietists in general held that the new birth must necessarily manifest itself in a new pattern of life. . .Though denying that good works are necessary to justification, they put a new stress on them as attributes which necessarily follow from an active, living, justifying faith. They saw an intimate connection and coordination between justification and sanctification due to the conviction that the faith which justifies is also the faith which sanctifies." Dale R. Stoffer, "The Background and Development of Thought and Practice in the German Baptist Brethren (Dunker) and the Brethren (Progressive) Churches (c. 1650-1979)" (Ph.D. dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1980), pp. 52,53. Oberman says, "Unlike his Orthodox contemporaries, Spener focused more on the subjective appropriation of the believer's redemption than on God's objective saving act in history in the incarnation." Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 6.
"While Arndt thoroughly understood that the blessings of justification are obtained solely by the merits of Christ, he insisted that they be accompanied by the reality of sanctification. Arndt believed that while it is true that God alone knows whether a man possess (sic) valid faith, it is also true, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, that a man's pattern of behavior gives a real indication of the genuineness of his faith." George Samuel Spink, "John Arndt's Religious Thought: A Study in German Proto-Pietism", p. 163.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 47.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, pp. 56,57.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 60.
Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. Peter Erb, p. 177.
Johann Arndt, The Garden of Paradise, p. ix.
"A quick perusal of the contents of. . . . True Christianity . . . .reveals a heavy emphasis . . . on the new life in Christ and the fruits that should accompany such a walk. One is tempted to weigh the pages devoted to sanctification and find what seems to be an inordinate amount of space spent on this doctrine and conclude that to be a Christian one must attain to the virtues therein described thus confusing law and gospel, justification and sanctification. . .It is very easy for the reader to skip over Arndt's `Foreword to the Christian Reader'. . .where Arndt explains that he is going to write on sanctification. If this is done, the reader can very easily surmise that Arndt is talking about justification." Trygve R. Skarsten, "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective," p. 26.
"The theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg found 284 heresies in Spener's work (Pia)." Trygve R. Skarsten, "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective", p. 27.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 59. In speaking of "losing their salvation," I assume Spener means that the baptismal grace that they received as infants will be of no effect because they did not couple it with true faith.
Allan C. Deeter, translation of Pia Desideria (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1963), p. 41.
Philip Jacob Spener, Erste Geistliche Schrifften, cited in Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 97.
Grunberg, Philipp Jakob Spener (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1893), 1:452. This quote is from a sermon given by Spener in 1697.
"Spener went beyond Orthodoxy when he hinted that such works must necessarily follow. Although he desired to disassociate himself from the formula that good works are necessary for salvation, he practically implied it in the way he spoke of the necessity of an active Christianity. He referred to good works as a conditio sin qua non, necessary attributes which inhere in salvation." Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, pp. 93,94.
"He (Francke) made sure that he absorbed thoroughly the Spenerian understanding of Christianity and that he devoted his energies to its propagation by word and deed. . .There can be no doubt about the fact that. . .the theological insights of Spener were not only conserved but compacted by Francke into a clear-cut body of ideas which could be communicated to the younger generation with relative ease." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 6,23.
August Hermann Francke, "On Christian Perfection", Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, pp. 115,116.
August Hermann Francke, The Holy and Sure Way of Faith of an Evangelical Christian, G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, p. 290.
August Hermann Francke, "A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Most Useful Way of Preaching", G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, pp. 295,296.
August Hermann Francke, "A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Most Useful Way of Preaching", G. Thomas Hallbrooks, ed., Pietism, p. 301.
The epistle of James applies this corrective to dead orthodoxy in Jas. 2:14-26. The fact that neither Arndt, Spener, nor Francke quote James in support of their position is probably due to Luther's doubts about its canonicity.
"In perspective, one beholds consistently in the writings and thought of these early Pietist leaders the effort to avoid the appearances and errors of moralism. Yet one sees in the teleological test of doctrine a moralistic temptation. . .The shift from the judging function of the law and the commandments to their role as requirements of Christian life tended toward legalism. The application of the sanctification test to the justification experience led in many cases to greater subjectivization. The attempted classification of people into regenerate and unregenerate contained the potential seeds of prideful self-assertion." Dale Brown, Understanding Pietism, p. 101.
"Luther prized infant baptism precisely as a demonstration of God's prevenient grace. . .The benefit of baptism, then is God's gracious covenant promise, which is no merely symbolic word about some future effect, but the active presence of Christ Himself beginning a new work in us to make us new. . .(baptism is) God's attested and operative promise." Julius Bodensieck, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965), Vol. 1, pp.180,183. As long as the necessity of personal faith is not denied, Lutherans do not object to speaking of "baptismal regeneration." "Lutherans have regarded it (baptism) as regeneration (Tit. 3:5, cf. John 3:5). . ." Bodensieck, p. 180.
"(Luther effected) a change in understanding the manner in which the Sacrament exerts its gracious effect: not by the objective performance of the rite (ex opere operato) but only by personal faith." Julius Bodensieck, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, Vol. 1, p. 179.
Johann Arndt, Paradislustgard (Stockholm: F & G Bekjers Forlag, 1875), pp. 117-118, cited by Trygve R. Skarsten, "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective", Trinity Seminary Review (Fall 1981):23.
Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), pp. 37,38.
Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 40.
Johann Arndt, Catechismus Predigten (Stuttgart: zu finded bey Johann Christoph Betulius, 1771), p. 573, cited by George Samuel Spink, "John Arndt's Religious Thought: A Study in German Proto-Pietism" (Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 1970), p. 175.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 63.
Philip Jacob Spener, The Spiritual Priesthood, included in Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 60.
Philip Jacob Spener, Die Evangelische Lebens Pflichten In einem Jahrgang der Predigten. . . (Franckfurt am Main, 1715), included in Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 85.
Philip Jacob Spener, The Spiritual Priesthood, trans. by A. G. Voigt (Philadelphia: The Lutheran Publication Society, 1917), p. 15.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 17. Though Stoeffler cites "Uber die Lehre von der Heilige Taufe" as his source for this assertion, I have been unable to find primary source material from Francke on this subject.
While the Confessionalists themselves did not technically hold to this belief, it appears that many of the common people did. Spener held the Confessionalists responsible for the spread of this erroneous among the people. "Just as the above illusion of faith as the only means of salvation from our side does great harm, so from the side of the divine means of Word and sacraments the shameful illusion of an opus operatum is added. This is not less harmful to the church, leads many people to damnation, and strengthens the aforementioned false notion of what true faith is. We cannot deny--on the contrary, daily experience convinces us--that there are not a few who think that all that Christianity requires of them (and that having done this, they have done quite enough in their service of God) is that they be baptized, hear the preaching of God's Word, confess and receive absolution, and go to the Lord's Supper, no matter how their hearts are disposed at the time, whether or not there are fruits which follow, provided they at least live in such a way that the civil authorities do not find them liable to punishment." Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 65.
Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 208.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, pp. 65,66.
Philip Jacob Spener, Pia Desideria, trans. Theodore G. Tappert, p. 117.
August Hermann Francke, "If and How One May Be Certain that One Is a Child of God", Predigten Uber die Sonn und Fest-Tags Episteln (Halle, 1741), pp. 859-882, cited in Peter C. Erb, ed., Pietists: Selected Writings, p. 147. See also Stoeffler, "In faithfulness to his Lutheran heritage Francke also spoke at times of baptism as a means toward entering the new life. Following Spener, however, he made very sure not to introduce any ex opere operato concepts into his theology of baptism. For that reason he always speaks of baptism and faith together and makes it a special point to say that the promise of salvation is not connected with baptism only. It appears to have been his belief that the baptized infant finds himself in a relation of special divine solicitude, which, however, never precludes the absolute necessity of a personal decision for God either on the part of a child or an adult. At some point in the maturation of the individual personal faith must be added to baptism." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 17.
Stoeffler agrees: "The difficulty here is that Luther by insisting on salvation sola fide and, at the same time, on a rigidly objective interpretation of baptism bequeathed to posterity what comes close to a logical contradiction. The attempt to deal with this contradiction has perennially exercised and often agitated the minds of Lutheran theologians." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, p. 208.
Jn. 3:5; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Eph 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21 all speak either of "baptism" or of "washing" which unites us with Christ. Lutherans typically refer to these verses as speaking of water baptism. See Julius Bodensieck, The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, Vol. 1, p. 180.
Of Arndt, Stoeffler says that "He thus linked himself definitely with many of the later Lutheran Pietists to whom the Lutheran doctrine of baptismal regeneration as popularly held was always an occasion of regret or at least of embarrassment. . ." Of Spener, he says "He never really rid himself of the strongly objective (sacramental) overtones which are inherent (sic) in the Lutheran tradition. Accordingly he held that the baptism of an infant establishes some sort of objective relationship between the baptized infant and God, a relationship in which unbaptized persons do not find themselves. . .It evidently did not occur to him that he was holding to two more or less radically disparate views of salvation. The one is based on sacramentally infused grace, or at least on a sacramentally induced change in God's attitude, the other on a personal faith commitment. . .In view of this contradiction it is understandable that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration lost more and more of its importance for Spener's followers who became progressively aware of the difficulties involved." Ernest F. Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism, pp. 208,242.
"The many allusions, citations and references to Luther and the Book of Concord, directly and indirectly, leads one to believe that seventeenth century Lutheran Pietism saw itself as a reform movement returning to the dynamic and vibrantly alive doctrine of justification that Luther and the Confessions had espoused and not a movement bent upon completing the Reformation left unfinished by Martin Luther." Trygve R. Skarsten, "The Doctrine of Justification in Classical Lutheran Pietism: A Revisionist Perspective", p. 28.