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5. Protestant renewal and the rise of the denominations



i) Survival of a mystical tradition.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-48) must be seen as one of the circumstances out of which the desire for spiritual renewal emerged. Although modern historical research has modified the exaggerated contemporary accounts of the war's effects, it is unquestioned that distress was widespread and profound. In some places the economy was reduced to barter, schools were closed, churches were burned, the sick and needy were forgotten. Not unexpectedly spiritual and moral deterioration accompanied the physical destruction. Drunkenness, sexual license, thievery, and greed were the despair of faithful pastors and earnest laymen.

During the war some notable signs of renewal began to appear. There reemerged, for example, an interest in the earlier devotional literature, some of which reflected the pious mysticism associated with such names as Johannes Tauler (c. 1300-61), Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471), and other German, Dutch, and even Spanish authors. The mystical tradition had lived on into the Reformation century and found representatives in Kaspar Schwenckfeld (1489-1561), Valentin Weigel (1533-88), and Jakob Böhme (1575-1624). Although both Lutherans and Calvinists opposed these mystics, many of their religious and theological ideas were subsequently absorbed by orthodox theologians. (see also Index: Christianity)

ii) Catholic recovery of Protestant territories.

After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the war, Catholicism regained some territories from Lutheran Protestantism: first, because the rise of toleration was somewhat more rapid in Protestant countries than in Catholic lands and, second, because Louis XIV identified French power with universal French acceptance of the Roman Catholic faith. In 1685 he revoked the Edict of Nantes and expelled thousands of Huguenots, who fled to England, Holland, or Germany, much to the advantage of those countries. Several of the French refugees became prominent in English religious life, and in Prussia groups of them founded flourishing congregations known as the French Reformed. In 1702 a determined group of Huguenots in the mountains of the Cévennes in France, known as the Camisards, rose in rebellion but was suppressed by military power two years later. There was a further small outbreak of war in 1709. For a time the few surviving Huguenot congregations met only in secret. They were led by Antoine Court (1695-1760), who secured ordination from Zürich and founded (1730) a college at Lausanne to train pastors. French Protestants barely held out until the French Revolution, after which they had a revival.

France gained Alsace in 1648. This enabled Catholics to increase rapidly, and Protestants decreased in strength. Strassburg, once one of the leading cities of the Protestant Reformation, returned its cathedral to the Catholics (1681) and became a town with a large Catholic population. Louis XIV ruled the Palatinate for nine years and allowed the French Catholics to share the churches with the Protestants; though he was compelled to surrender the country at the Treaty of Rijswijk (1697) to the Holy Roman Empire, a clause (the Simultaneum) of the treaty (added at the last moment and not recognized by the Protestants) preserved certain legal rights and endowments of Catholics in Protestant churches. As a result of France's greater power Protestant authority in the Rhineland between Switzerland and the Netherlands diminished. (see also Index: France)

Another shock to Protestantism was the conversion of Augustus II, elector of Saxony, to Roman Catholicism in 1697. It appeared as though Protestantism was not even safe in its original home. The conversion involved political motives; Augustus was a candidate for the throne of Poland and was loyal to his new allegiance, assisting the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and also, somewhat, in Saxony; but such assistance had no effect on the Lutheranism of Saxony.

iii) Protestant scholasticism.

The second half of the 17th century was at once the high age of Protestant systematic orthodoxy and the age when the first signs of its dissolution appeared. The axioms of the Reformation were worked out in a great and systematic body of doctrine. (see also Index: Reformed church)

The theologians defended and the pastors taught Luther's or Calvin's dogmatic systems--relying also upon authoritative sources such as the Formula of Concord (1577) in Lutheranism or the conclusions of the Synod of Dort (1618) in Calvinism--which were extended and made into a tradition. Even when the system was not of the ordinary Protestant tradition, it was generally worked out in many volumes, based upon coherent axioms, defended against all assailants, appealing always to reason and to biblical authority and seldom to feeling or conscience. This age has sometimes been known as the age of Protestant scholasticism. But that pejorative term came from a posterity that would no longer accept the axioms on which the systems were founded. These were the last scriptural theologians before the period of the Enlightenment, when the understanding of Scripture was altered. The old axioms were changed by Pietism, science, and philosophy.


Influences from English Puritanism reached the Continent through the translation of works by Richard Baxter (1615-91), Lewis Bayly (1565-1631), and John Bunyan (1628-88). Most frequently read were Baxter's A Call to the Unconverted, Bayly's The Practice of Piety, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Dutch Pietism, influenced by the Englishman William Ames (1576-1633) whose Medulla Sacrae Theologiae (1623) and De Conscientia (1630) were basic textbooks for "federal theology" and Puritan casuistry in England and New England, was represented by Willem Teellinck, Johannes Coccejus, Gisbertus Voetius, and Jodocus van Lodensteyn. Impulses from these men became a part of the reform movement that had already appeared in German Lutheran circles and was to be known as "Reform Orthodoxy." Older historians of Pietism, notably Albrecht Ritschl, paid little or no attention to this reform phenomenon within Lutheranism. Ritschl saw Pietism as an alien mysticism uncongenial to the spirit of both Luther and the 17th-century theologians. More recent scholars (E. Benz, M. Schmidt, H. Leube, F.W. Kantzenbach) have exposed the Ritschlian prejudice and deepened the understanding of the role played by such representatives of "Reform Orthodoxy" as Johann Arndt (1555-1621) and Johann Dannhauer (1603-66). The "pectoral [heart] theology" of these orthodox Lutherans found its highest expression and widest audience in the writings of Arndt, who, rather than Philipp Jakob Spener, can be called the "father of Pietism." His chief work, Four Books on True Christianity (1606-10), was soon being read in countless homes. Although Arndt developed devotionally the unio mystica (mystical union), a 17th-century Lutheran doctrinal addition to the ordo salutis (order of salvation), the central Arndtian theme was not that of mystical union. Rather, he stressed repentance, regeneration, and the new life, and this was the very essence of Pietism.

Alongside the orthodox piety of the 17th century one of the most significant contributions to spiritual renewal was the rich treasures of Lutheran hymnody. Examples from this classical period of church song are the works of Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608; "Wake, Awake" and "How Brightly Beams the Morning Star!"), Paul Gerhardt (1607-76; "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," "O How Shall I Receive Thee," "Put Thou Thy Trust in God"); and Martin Rinkart (1586-1649; "Now Thank We All Our God").

i) Pietism in the 17th century.

The various streams of concern for renewal converged in the life and work of Spener (1635-1705). In 1666, after having earned his theological doctorate at Strasbourg, he was called to be Senior of the clergy in Frankfurt am Main, where he was soon distressed by the conspicuous worldliness of the city. His sermons urged repentance and renewal, and each Sunday afternoon he held catechism classes for both children and adults. This led to efforts to revitalize the rite of confirmation, which, since the days of Martin Bucer, had been practiced in the Church of Hesse (Frankfurt). (see also Index: Germany)

The origin of the so-called collegia pietatis(assembly of piety) has been traced to a sermon of 1669, in which Spener exhorted the laity to come together on Sunday afternoon not to drink, play cards, or gamble, as was the custom among Frankfurt's smart set, but to review the morning's sermon and to engage in devotional reading and conversation "about the divine mysteries." The next year, at the request of a few parishioners, such meetings were held each Sunday and Wednesday at Spener's home. Although some of the Frankfurt ministers, over whom Spener was superintendent, took a dim view of the collegia pietatis, the practice flourished and in time became a distinguishing feature of the movement. Those who attended the conventicles were soon called Pietists.

In a relatively short time, Spener became a household name in Germany. Through his writings and extensive correspondence, especially with men in high places, Spener came to be called "the spiritual counselor of all Germany." Most significant was the publication in 1675 of his Pia Desideria (Pious Desires). The book's first part reviewed the low estate of the church. He charged civil authorities, who since before the Peace of Augsburg (1555) were the de jure heads of the church, with irresponsible caesaropapism (doctrine of state control over church). He likewise flayed the clergy, many of whom were scandalous and self-seeking, often confusing assent to "true doctrine" with faith. The laymen, too, he claimed, were not blameless. Drunkenness must not be excused as a German peccadillo; prostitution, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, thievery, and assault must be rooted out lest people lose God's promised salvation. The second part of the work reminded readers of the possibility of better conditions in the church: ". . . we can have no doubt that God promised His church here on earth a better state than this." When the full number of heathen (Gentiles) had been brought in, God would even convert the Jews. But the fulfillment of these hopes was not to be achieved by sitting with folded hands. Part three, therefore, set forth a six-point reform program:

1. The Word of God--the whole Bible, not merely the pericopes (biblical texts used in a set sequence in worship services)--must be made known widely through public and private reading, group study (conventicles under the guidance of pastors), and family devotions.

2. There should be a reactivation of Luther's idea of the priesthood of believers, which included not only the "rights of the laity" but also responsibility toward one's fellow men.

3. People should be taught that Christianity consists not only in knowing God's will but also in doing it, especially by implementing the command to love one's neighbour.

4. Religious controversies with unbelievers and heretics unfortunately may be necessary. If they cannot be avoided, they should be entered prayerfully and with love for those in error.

5. Theological education must be reformed. Professors must see that future pastors are not only theologically learned but spiritually committed.

6. Finally, preaching should have edification and the cultivation of inner piety as its goal.

Initially the Pia Desideria was received with enthusiasm and given wide acclaim. Some clergymen, however, felt threatened by the implications of the reform program's emphasis on the laity. Professors resented Spener's criticism of scholastic theology and advocacy of curricular reform. Spener's response was to emphasize more and more the collegia pietatis. Contrary to Spener's wishes the conventicles in time became divisive and abrasively donatistic (referring to the Early Church heresy that held that priests must be morally righteous or the sacraments would not be valid), tending to develop into "little churches within the church" (ecclesiolae in ecclesia). In an attempt to stem separatism and other questionable attitudes, Spener wrote tracts that expounded the doctrines of the spiritual priesthood (1677) and ecclesiology (1684). In the latter he argued that despite the faults of the church its teachings were not false and separation from services and sacraments was wrong.

Spener's influence had spread widely by 1686. In many circles, not least among the nobility, he was praised and imitated. In other quarters his emphases produced vigorous and, in many instances, unjust criticism. Weary of opposition and controversies, Spener accepted a call to be the court chaplain in Dresden, where he was soon disillusioned by the unresponsiveness and vulgarity of the court and the hostility of the pastors in this stronghold of orthodoxy. Two items of special significance from the Dresden period should be noted: (1) There he wrote his Impediments to Theological Study (1690), which was hardly calculated to win friends at the famous Saxon University of Leipzig; (2) there, too, he made the acquaintance of a young instructor, August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), who was to become in a sense Spener's successor and the second great leader of Pietism.

By 1691 Spener welcomed a call from the elector of Brandenburg, who soon brought in other Pietists, opened his domain to persecuted French Huguenots, and made Berlin a strong spiritual centre, thus taking religious leadership away from rival Saxony. All of this was enhanced by the founding of a new university at Halle (1694), the theological faculty of which became, with Spener's and Francke's influence, the academic centre of Pietism. (see also Index: Halle-Wittenberg, Martin Luther University of)

Spener's years in Berlin were not without bitterness. The conflict between Orthodoxists and Pietists had mounted to a high pitch. The theological faculty at Wittenberg, for example, charged Spener with 284 deviations and prayed that God would save "our Lutheran Zion" from the ravages of pietistic heresies.

During his last years Spener collected and edited several volumes of his papers (Theologische Bedencken), continued his friendship with and support of Francke at Halle, and, significantly, served as a sponsor at the baptism of Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, who was to lead evangelical Pietism in a new direction. Spener died on Feb. 5, 1705.

Meanwhile, Francke became the central figure of Pietism. During his student years at Leipzig he had been engaged in group Bible study, being one of the organizers of a collegium philobiblicum (assembly of Bible lovers), dedicated largely to the scholarly rather than devotional approach to the Scriptures. A religious experience in 1687 led Francke to make conversion--characterized by a severe penitential struggle and commitment to holy living--the norm for distinguishing the true Christians from unbelievers. Francke's Pietism, going beyond the spirit of Spener, came to stress a legalistic and ascetic way of life. Under Francke's leadership (he became professor in 1698) Halle became famous not only for its university but for the many "Halle institutions" that sprang up: an orphan asylum with affiliated schools, a publishing house and Bible institute, a Collegium Orientale Theologicum (Oriental College of Theology) for linguistic training of missionaries, and an infirmary that the medical faculty welcomed as compensation for the university's lack of a clinic. All of this gave to Halle and Franckean Pietism an energetic and activist character.

ii) Pietism in the 18th century.

1.        Central Europe and England.

One of Francke's institutions in Halle was the paedagogium (1698), which was intended for the education of boys whose well-to-do parents lived at a distance. Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf (1700-60) attended the Halle boarding school from 1710 to 1716. Having been drawn earlier to Spener, his godfather, Zinzendorf was now greatly stimulated by Francke. As a 14-year-old lad he organized the "Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed," whose youthful members pledged themselves to reach out in ever-expanding love to "the whole human race." (see also Index: United Kingdom)

By 1721 Zinzendorf had settled down on his estate (Berthelsdorf) near the Bohemian border, where he brought believers together in a nonseparatist ecclesiola in ecclesiawhich denied the Halle Pietists' demand for penitential remorse as a mark of "heart religion." Zinzendorf formulated the slogan that came to play such a great role in the history of revivals: "Come as you are. It is only necessary to believe in the atonement of Christ."

A small band of Moravian exiles took refuge on his estate in 1722. Looking upon this event as an opportunity to realize his cherished project of "the Mustard Seed," he gave up his position in the Saxon civil service and welcomed other Moravian refugees. They, like Zinzendorf, had been primarily influenced by Pietism and had only a hazy idea that their ancestors were Hussites. Zinzendorf soon organized the colony, now called Herrnhut, into the community of the Bohemian Brethren. They were not to separate from the Lutheran Church of Saxony. They would attend services in the village church at Berthelsdorf and call upon the local pastor for ministerial acts; but they were to look upon themselves as "the salt" of the earth, an ecclesiola from which "heart religion" would be disseminated throughout Christendom. Under Zinzendorf's "superintendency" the Herrnhut Brethren became more and more a distinct church, the reborn Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum. Although Zinzendorf received a license as a minister in 1734 and three years later was consecrated bishop, he left Herrnhut under pressure in 1736, traveling in western Germany, England, and America. The chief centres of his missionary work in Pennsylvania were Germantown and Bethlehem. He returned to Herrnhut in 1749 and presided over the Church of the Brethren until his death (1760).

The influence of the Moravians on the Evangelical Awakening in England was significant. By 1775 there were 15 Moravian congregations in England, and it was in one of these that John Wesley, founder of Methodism, had his famous "Aldersgate Street Experience" (1738) as he was listening to a Moravian preacher reading Luther's Preface to the Romans:

while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt that I did trust in Christ . . .; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins."

He allied himself with the Moravian society in Fetter Lane, London, and the same year journeyed to Hernnhut to learn at first hand about the people to whom he owed so much. Although Wesley later parted from the Moravians, his initial experience of saving grace in the company of the Brethren shaped the wide-reaching evangelical movement that associated the names of the two Wesleys (John and Charles) and George Whitefield.

2.        Germany.

A slightly different type of Pietism appeared in Württemberg, where Spener had established relations with Swabian churchmen. Avoiding the extremes of Franckean Pietism, it accepted conventicles but opposed all temptation to separatism and sought an evangelical, as opposed to legalistic, sanctification of life in the congregations. Interested in academic theology and a scholarly study of the Scriptures, the leader of Württemberg Pietism, Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), was a pioneer in textual criticism and biblical, in contradistinction to systematic, theology. His Gnomon Novi Testamenti(1752; "Interpretation of the New Testament") was widely distributed in the Lutheran and English world; a fresh approach to the Bible by its emphasis on Heilsgeschichte (the history of salvation).

Radical Pietism always lurked beneath the surface of Evangelical Pietism. The appeal to mystical and emotional experiences and the depiction of the church as "unholy Babylon" were common characteristics of Radical Pietism. Difficult to trace historically because of a tendency to flare up spontaneously, it can nevertheless be divided into two main forms. The first was a fanatic sectarianism in which ecstatic and visionary elements were dominant. A favourite doctrine was chiliasm (referring to the thousand-year reign of Christ at the end of history), in which the apocatastasis (the eventual salvation of all men) played a large role. Somewhat different but still under the first rubric were the "inspired congregations," whose inspiration was expressed in convulsive physical phenomena accompanied with glossolalia, "speaking in tongues." The second main form was "separatistic" or "nonchurch" and emphasized the "inner light." Because the "inner light" and human reason were often identified, the advocates of "Spiritual Pietism" tended to move toward Rationalism (see below). Chief among these men were Gottfried Arnold (1666-1714), Johann Konrad Dippel (1673-1734), and Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769). (see also Index: Christianity, millennium)

iii) 18th-century Pietism in Scandinavia, Russia, and America.

1.        Denmark/Norway.

As in Germany, the age of orthodoxy in the Dano-Norwegian kingdom had its deeply spiritual side, which came to expression in men like Bishop Jens Dinesen Jersin (died 1632) and Holger Rosenkrantz (died 1642), both of whom taught the necessity of pious living. Also, as in Germany, the "reform orthodoxy" was evidenced in hymns, especially those of Thomas Kingo (1634-1703). Pietism, as such, arrived in Copenhagen at the turn of the century and was welcomed, strangely enough, by the unpietistic king Frederick IV. It was during his reign (1699-1730) that the royal chaplain, the German R.J. Lütkens, was able to give status to pietistic pastors and to win the King for the cause of missions in India. The King initiated a search for missionaries and, finding none in his domain, he turned to Germany, where Lütken's contacts brought about the connection with two young Halle-trained Pietists, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) and Heinrich Plütschau (1678-1747). Ordained at Copenhagen in 1705, these men became the founders of the famous Tamil mission at Tranquebar, India, and stimulated foreign mission interest among the Halle Pietists. To this period belongs the Christian work among the semipagan Sami (then known as Lapps) in northern Norway carried on by the Norwegian Pietist Thomas von Westen. Another Norwegian, Hans Egede, became the pioneer missionary in Greenland. King Christian VI, known as the "Pietist on the throne," gave support to numerous pietistic causes: an orphan home and schools modeled after Halle, a missionary institute, and even conventicles (the 1741 decree permitted them only under pastoral leadership). The name of Erik Pontoppidan, court preacher at Copenhagen and later bishop of Bergen in Norway, was to have enduring significance largely because of his excellent exposition of Luther's catechism, entitled Truth unto GodlinessVirtually a national reader for many generations, especially in Norway, this "layman's dogmatics" combined Law and Gospel, orthodoxy and Pietism, in such a manner that its power persisted into 20th-century American Lutheranism.

2.        Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Original royal opposition to Pietism in Sweden was softened only after Francke personally visited King Charles XII on his Russian campaign. Meanwhile, Swedish students at Halle returned to their homeland imbued with Francke's ideas and practices. Following the defeat of Charles XII at Poltava in Russia (1709), thousands of Swedish prisoners of war were quartered in Siberia. Many sought comfort in religion under the leadership of a Swedish Pietist, J. Cederhielm. Correspondence with Halle and the writings of Francke and Arndt produced a strong pietistic movement in the prison camps from which only 5,000 of the original 30,000 captives were able to return to Sweden by 1724. The zealous returnees carried their pietistic convictions back to Swedish parishes. In a short time both church and government looked upon Pietism as a threat to national unity. The result was the Conventicle Act of 1726, which retarded Pietism and held Swedish church life to conventional forms for the next century. Finns as well as Swedes had followed Charles XII to defeat. Those who returned from Russia were the apostles of a religious awakening. For a time the literature of Pietism was influential, but due to the Conventicle Act of 1726 (Finland was partially a Swedish domain), its role was somewhat limited. (see also Index: hymn)

Meanwhile, Pietism came to the Russian-occupied Baltic states, where it experienced greater freedom than under the Swedes. From the foreign quarter of Moscow, inhabited mainly by German Lutherans, the work of Francke reached Peter the Great and some of his government ministers.

3.        America.

In 1703 three pastors from New Sweden on the Delaware River ordained Justus Falckner, a Halle-educated Pietist, for service among the Dutch Lutherans in New York. Most of the Dutch Lutherans were of Pietist orientation, as were the many Germans from the Rhineland and Southern German valleys. These "Palatines," who settled in New York and Pennsylvania, and the famous refugee Salzburgers, who settled in Georgia, came via London where the Pietist court chaplain M. Ziegenhagen assisted them on their way to America. Accompanying the Salzburgers were two Francke-selected pastors, J.M. Boltzius and I.C. Gronau, who naturally shaped the spiritual life of the Georgia settlement. Zinzendorf's visit to America (1741-42) led to a clash between his type of Pietism and that of Halle, represented by Henry Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-87). The victory belonged to Mühlenberg, who became the organizing genius and spiritual leader, later called "The Patriarch of American Lutheranism."


The first signs of a Rationalist movement, which was to have as powerful an influence on Protestantism as the Pietists had had, may be traced back to those few who at the end of the 16th century attacked Calvinism on grounds of reason. In Leyden, the Netherlands, Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) reacted against Calvinist doctrines of predestination (God's foreordaining men to heaven or hell). Though anyone not a Calvinist after a time came to be called Arminian, there were groups so designated in Holland and England that had members who were more marked by their use of reason in theology than by their opposition to Calvin. In England the enemies of such liberal theologians gave them the name Latitudinarians. The so-called Latitudinarians sought to maintain church unity based upon a few fundamental articles of faith and otherwise to allow for a wide diversity of doctrine, polity, and ways of worship. Their best representatives were the Cambridge Platonists--philosophical theologians at Cambridge (c. 1640-80)--who claimed that reason is the reflection of the divine mind in the soul. (see also Index: Arminianism)

During the 17th century philosophy, hitherto considered a handmaid to theology, was expanded beyond the limits of Aristotelian philosophy and the Bible and--partly due to natural science and partly due to the reflections of thinkers from Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and René Descartes (1596-1650) onward--developed its independence. The successes of science, especially to be noted in the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), persuaded many men of the power of reason and, by 1680, of the necessity that all things be tested by reason, including even those realms of the conscience or spirit that hitherto had been thought inaccessible to reason. The signs of the age of Rationalism were the rapid decline of belief in witchcraft; the slow and painful rise of a belief in toleration; a more widespread symbolic comprehension of conceptions like heaven and hell; and the recognition of the small size of the planet Earth within the universe. On the Continent Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) and G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716), and in England John Locke (1632-1704), were regarded as the philosophers of the age. Among the German theologians Christian Wolff (1679-1754) of Halle approached theology almost as if it were a form of mathematics, seeking for a truth that would be incontrovertible among all reasonable men. Under prompting from Pietists of Halle, he was expelled from Prussia in 1723. But before Wolff's death Rationalist theologians had displaced the Pietists in control of Halle University and had made it the centre of Rationalist theology among Protestants. (see also Index: science, philosophy of)

In England the same trend among the disciples of John Locke issued in the Deists (especially John Toland, 1670-1722) for whom Christianity was never mysterious and was understood only as a republication of the natural religion of the human race. Like Wolff and his disciples the English Deists had no permanent influence on the history of Protestantism, except by forcing the theologians to answer them and thereby to treat the philosophy of religion with seriousness. The most important of all the answers to the Deists lay in the work of Bishop Joseph Butler (1692-1752), whose sermons and Analogy of Religion formed the most cogent defense of the basis of Christian philosophy known in that age. (see also Index: Deism)

Rationalist theology, contemporaneous though certainly not in harmony with Pietism and evangelicalism, began to modify or even destroy the traditional orthodoxies--i.e., Lutheran or Calvinist--of the later Reformation. The Rationalist theologians insisted that goodness in God could not be different in kind from goodness in men and therefore that God cannot do what in a man would be immoral. Though for the most part they accepted the miracles of the New Testament--until toward the end of the 18th century--the Rationalists were critical of miracles outside the New Testament, since they suspected everything that did not fit their mechanistic view of the universe.


i) Methodism.

Similar to the Pietists in Germany was the evangelical, or Methodist (named from the use of methodical study and devotion), movement in England led by John Wesley. While a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, Wesley gathered a group of earnest students of the Bible about him, made a missionary expedition to Georgia, and became a friend of the Moravians. Like the Pietists he laid much emphasis upon the necessity of conversion and devoted the remainder of his life to evangelistic preaching in England. He did not intend any separation, but the parish system of the Church of England as then organized was incapable of adjustment to his plan of free evangelism and lay preachers. In 1744 Wesley held the first conference of his preachers; soon this became an annual conference, the governing body of the Methodist societies, and was given a legal constitution in 1784. The Methodist movement had remarkable success, especially where the Church of England was failing--in the industrial parishes, in the deep countryside, in little hamlets, and in hilly country, such as Wales, Cumberland, Yorkshire, and Cornwall. In 1768 Methodist emigrants in the American colonies opened a chapel in New York, and thereafter the movement spread rapidly in the United States. It also succeeded in French-speaking cantons of Switzerland.

The Methodist movement seized upon the elements of feeling and conscience that Protestant orthodoxy had tended to neglect. It gave a renewed and devotional impetus to the doctrines of grace and justification and to the tradition of moral earnestness, which had once appeared in Puritanism but which had temporarily faded during the reaction against Puritanism in the middle and late 17th century. In England it slowly began to strengthen the tradition of free churchmanship though for a century or more many English Methodists believed themselves to be much nearer the Anglican Church from which they had issued than any other body of English Protestants. It enabled hymns--hitherto confined (except for metrical Psalms) to the Lutheran churches--slowly to be accepted in other Protestants bodies, such as the Church of England, the Congregationalists, and the Baptists. The evangelical movement of the 18th century produced several of the most eminent of Christian hymn writers, especially Philip Doddridge (1702-51) and Charles Wesley (1707-88).

Though John Wesley himself had not been Calvinist, in Wales the Methodists retained both the name and the theology of Calvinistic Methodists. In the United States Methodism made even more rapid progress.

ii) The Great Awakening.

Churches in the 13 colonies of the American states practiced the Congregational or Baptist church polity on a scale not known in Europe. The small Anabaptist groups had required evidence of faith, and this sometimes meant public testimony to the experience of conversion. In the larger congregations of America a similar testimony--because it was given to a wider circle--became more evident, more solemn, and at times more emotional. The pastors of the Calvinistic tradition of New England, trying to escape from the religion of forms and to seek the religion of the heart, gave unusual stress to the necessity for an immediate experience of salvation. Pastors found that under certain conditions a wave of emotion could sweep through an entire congregation and believed that they could here observe conversion and its subsequent issue in a better life. The movement owed something to the German Pietist T.J. Frelinghuysen (1691-c. 1748) and something to John Wesley's colleague George Whitefield (1714-70). The chief mind at the beginning of the Great Awakening, however, was that of an intellectual mystic rather than of a conventional Calvinist preacher. Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) was the Congregational pastor at Northampton in Massachusetts, where the conversions began in 1734-35. In the middle years of the 18th century waves of revivals and conversions spread through the colonies. Though the revivals were led by Congregationalists and Presbyterians, many small, independent, Bible-centred groups, which often professed allegiance to Baptist teaching, came into being because of the revivals. As Wesley in England and Zinzendorf in Germany had been forced to carry their new methods outside the established churches of their lands, so too were the American revivalistic leaders.

The movement was not native to America. But the conditions of the American frontier gave this kind of evangelicalism a new vigour, and from America it permanently influenced the future development of Protestantism. In the towns and new cities with moving populations, Protestantism found methods that became a feature of evangelical endeavours to reach the unregenerate or the unchurched crowds of the coming industrial cities.


The American Revolution and the French Revolution changed the history of Western society and within it the history of the Protestant movement. The American Constitution, with its inferred separation of state and churches, owed something to the spirit of free churchmanship that had been inherited from colonial days, something to the religious mixture of immigrants continually arriving from Europe, something to the reaction against the "Church and King" alliance that prevailed in Britain, and something to the secular spirit of the Enlightenment. With the French Revolution and Napoleon, the idea of the secular state became an ideal for many European liberals, especially among the anticlericals in Roman Catholic countries. The American pattern was probably more influential than the Napoleonic in Protestant Europe. The Protestant states of Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and Scotland, which were all accustomed to established Protestant churches, for a time met no strong demand anywhere for disestablishment. In all those countries the members of the free, or dissenting, churches were able to secure complete toleration and civil rights during the 19th century, but in no Protestant country was the formal link between state and an established church totally broken during the 19th century, except in Ireland (1871) and in Wales (1914-19), where the Church of England was a minority. At least as an outward and historical form, however, established churches remained in England, Scotland, and all the Scandinavian countries.


Early in the 19th century the greatest acts leading to reunion since the Reformation were initiated. During the later 17th century the states of Europe--especially as they allowed more than one denomination--moved slowly toward toleration for all men as long as they were good citizens. The Christian leaders, especially of the new Rational, or Latitudinarian, school, sought to show that the doctrines that divided Protestants from each other (if not Protestants from Catholics) mattered less than the truths upon which they agreed. Among the Lutheran and Reformed, the German theologian George Calixtus (1586-1656) already had sought to prove their essential unity by showing that the doctrines that divided them were not essential to faith. A Scotsman, John Durie (1596-1680), traveled from England to eastern Germany and from Sweden to Switzerland on practical endeavours to persuade churchmen to unite. In 1631 the Huguenot Synod of Charenton (France) agreed to accept Lutherans who married Reformed or were godparents, without compelling them to abandon their special beliefs, on the ground that there was a sufficient agreement in the essential gospel between the Lutheran and Reformed. Lutherans (except for Calixtus and his school) could not take this view. Neither Calixtus nor Durie had much influence. Leibniz and the French Roman Catholic bishop Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) corresponded about the possibility of union between Catholics and Protestants, but in vain. In Prussia, with a mainly Lutheran population and a dynasty of Reformed princes, the policy of reconciliation became more effective. In 1708 King Frederick I built a "union-church" in Berlin, with the Lutheran Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism side by side on the altar. In 1817, in a Prussia stimulated by the national revival that followed the fall of Napoleon (1815), King Frederick William III (1770-1840) used the third centenary of the Reformation to unite the Lutheran and Reformed of Prussia by royal decree (the Prussian Union), and despite resistance the union was slowly accepted by the majority of Prussian congregations. Other, though not all, German states succeeded in uniting their Protestant communities about the same time. Many of the more conservative Lutherans, rejecting the Prussian Union, emigrated to the United States.


i) Germany.

Before and for some time after 1815 an awakening occurred in Germany as a reaction against the Enlightenment. In philosophy, literature, and music it found expression in German Idealism and Romanticism. In the congregations the reaction took the form of Pietism. Pietistic orthodoxism and biblicism continued to live on among "the quiet in the land." Some solitary thinkers with pronounced religious interests sought to preserve and awaken genuine Christianity and to point out the banality of the Enlightenment. Among these was Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88), a theologian given to brilliant paradoxical thought, who understood Luther's theologia crucis (theology of the cross) better than any other 18th-century person. Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) was another representative of the antirationalist mood of the dawn of the 19th century. Johann Friedrich Oberlin (1740-1826) mixed his biblicistic piety with a concern for social missions. J.A. Urlsperger (1728-1806) sought to promote piety by organizing the Christentumsgesellschaft ("A Society for Christianity"), the German counterpart of the British Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Out of it grew the Basel Mission Society. G.C. Storr (1746-1804) and J.F. Flatt (1759-1821) represented the "Old Tübingen school" of biblical Supernaturalism.

It was in such a climate that the revival of Pietism occurred. Many of the people involved in it were not interested, at least in the beginning, in reviving former confessional differences. They were satisfied with being known as "Christians" or "evangelicals." But in time some of these new Pietists, influenced by Romanticism's admiration for the past, began to assert the need of linking their pietistic interests with the traditional confessional heritage of the church. True religion (Pietism), they argued, is really Lutheranism properly understood. Thus beginning with a renewal of heart religion (Pietism), they came to a neoconfessionalism.

There were three discernible "schools" in this revival of Lutheranism. "The Repristination Theology" (i.e., restoration of earlier norms) made the 17th-century orthodoxy normative for the interpretation of Martin Luther and the confessions, and it fought the rising historical-critical approach to the Bible by affirming the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the original manuscripts (autographs) of the Scriptures. Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg (1802-69) was the champion of this school of "Old Lutherans." A second group, the Neo-Lutherans, felt that the Repristinationists, though not basically wrong, needed correction and improvement especially in their view of the church, the ministry, and the sacraments. These Neo-Lutherans ("high churchmen"), influenced by Romanticism, were the German counterpart of the Oxford Movement in England. Chief exponents were August Vilmar (1800-68) and Wilhelm Löhe (1808-72), the latter having strong influence in American Lutheranism. The third group, the so-called Erlangen school, rejected Rationalism, Repristination, and Romantic catholicizing of the church. They asserted that theology must see the relationship of faith to history, thus providing a new setting for understanding both the Bible and the Lutheran confessions. Chief representatives were Gottfried Thomasius (1802-75) and J.C.K. von Hofmann (1810-77).

ii) Denmark.

The Spener-Francke tradition of Pietism survived the age of Rationalism in Denmark by being nurtured here and there by pietistic pastors and congregations, especially in rural Jutland. The rebirth of Danish spiritual life and the conquest of Rationalism in the first half of the 19th century, however, came not from Pietism but from the religious and cultural impact of N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) and Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55). Both of these men were profoundly religious and at times may have sounded like Pietists, but neither had any essential sympathy for Pietism. Grundtvig was in fact definitely opposed to Pietism, while Kierkegaard, though stressing "the individual" and his existential involvement in the truth, found little time for Pietism as such. The actual renaissance of Pietism in Denmark was associated with the Inner Mission Society (established in the 1850s) and its leader Vilhelm Beck (1829-1901), who, deeply influenced by Kierkegaard's Øieblikket ("The Present Moment"), brought some of his emphases into the church that Kierkegaard so bitterly criticized.

iii) Norway.

Nineteenth-century Pietism in Norway may be seen in three episodes: (1) the life and work of Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), (2) the pietistic confessionalism of Gisle Johnson (1822-94), and (3) the conflict over liberal theology (c. 1875-1908). Hauge was a layman theologically untrained but at home in the Bible, Luther's catechism, and the works of Arndt, Pontoppidan, and Kingo. Converted in 1796, his sense of mission eventually produced a national revival. Hauge and Haugeanism, though sharply critical of the established church, became an example of conventicle Christianity within the framework of the state church. Arrested no fewer than 10 times for violation of the long-neglected Conventicle Act of 1741, Hauge's final imprisonment lasted from 1804 to 1811. Although he thought of himself solely as a religious awakener, Hauge and his movement contributed to the sociopolitical revival in Norway through the influence of laymen who had been trained in an activistic type of Pietism. A characteristic feature of Haugeanism was its concept of a person's daily work as a divine calling. Imitating Hauge's example, many Haugeans became successful businessmen, shippers, and farmers.

The second figure in Norwegian Pietism gave his name to a revival that occurred in the 1850s, the Johnsonian Awakening. Influenced by the German "Erlangen school," Johnson was joined on the theological faculty in Christiania (Oslo) by a staunch Hengstenbergian Repristinationist, C.P. Caspari, a converted German Jew. The Johnsonian Awakening, unlike the lay-oriented Haugean movement, was consciously directed toward pastors and church leaders. It produced powerful lay organizations that promoted inner and foreign missions.

The third phase of Norwegian Pietism was manifested in the conflict over theological liberalism during the last quarter of the 19th century. Increasingly the university-oriented Norwegian intellectuals--clergy and lay--were drawn toward liberal positivism, historical relativism, and progressive optimism, the whole structure of which was based on natural science and biblical criticism. The orthodox Pietists of the Johnsonian school led the attack on the liberal professors now dominating the theological faculty. By the turn of the century the idea of establishing a faculty independent of state control and supported by the faithful in the congregations was born. This was realized in 1908 when the Menighetsfakultetet (the Congregational Faculty) was created.

iv) Sweden.

Like Norway, Sweden was visited with a variety of pietistic movements in the 19th century. The first was militant revivalism in northern Sweden, where Moravian Herrnhuters interested in Lapland missions merged their enthusiasms with those of pietistic Lutherans and together were called the "Old Pietists." Lay conventicles, encouraged by some clergymen, emphasized devotional reading of the liturgy, the Bible, and Luther's and Arndt's sermons. The movement, called the Läsare ("The Readers"), soon came under attack, resulting in the emigration of a group under Erik Jansson to Bishop Hill, Ill. A second revival in the first half of the century was associated with the name of Henrik Schartau (1757-1825), who was pastor and dean at Lund, Swed. What distinguished Schartauism as a revival movement was its strong churchly character. It was catechetical, liturgical, orthodox, and anti-conventicle. Yet its profound piety produced an awakening in southwest Sweden, the results of which were still noticeable in the 20th century. The third revival occurred toward the middle of the century under the leadership of Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-68), a lay preacher strongly influenced by George Scott, an English Methodist evangelist. Rosenian Pietism, or the "New Evangelism," as it was called, made much of "objective justification," appealing to sinners to "Come as you are." Again, as in Denmark and Norway, a healthy inner mission society was one of the fruits of revival, the National Missionary Society. Following the death of Rosenius, leadership came into the hands of Paul Peter Waldenström (1838-1917), whose subjective views of the atonement led to the formation of the Swedish Mission Covenant Church (1878). (see also Index: Moravian church)

Generally speaking, the two Swedish universities, Lund and Uppsala, represented high and low churchism respectively. The latter viewpoint influenced Parliament to allow the Church of Sweden its own Convocation (1865) with lay representation.

v) North America.

The great 19th-century German and Scandinavian immigration began in 1839-40. The first Germans to arrive were "Old Lutherans" from Prussia whose original pietistic impulses had given way to a high-church confessionalism of the Hengstenbergian and "New Lutheranism" line. Colonies of about 1,000 "Old Lutherans" under J.A.A. Grabau settled in the vicinity of Buffalo and others in and around Milwaukee. They were the forerunners of the Buffalo Synod (1845). Saxon immigrants, under Martin Stephan and Carl F.W. Walther likewise arrived in 1839 and settled near St. Louis to become by 1847 the Missouri Synod. Stephan had practiced conventicle Pietism in Germany and had influenced Walther and others in this direction. Walther and other Missouri Synod leaders later moved to a staunch confessionalism that left little room for conventional Pietism. The Norwegians, who also arrived in 1839, were almost entirely of the Haugean persuasion, one of their first leaders, Elling Eielsen (1804-83), being an extremely legalistic lay follower of Hauge. Most of the subsequent waves of immigrants were sympathetic to Pietism, the laity inclining toward Haugeanism, the clergy towards Johnsonianism. The Danish immigrants, fewer in number, eventually split over the question of Pietism. The anti-Pietists, or Grundvigians, were known as "the Happy Danes," while the pietistic, inner-mission disciples of Beck were denominated "the Sad Danes." The Swedish-Americans reflected "Läsare" and Rosenian Pietism initially, but after the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod was formed in 1860 it soon began to evidence a churchly type of Pietism that perhaps could be traced to Schartauism.


i) Toleration.

The great Protestant advance depended in part on the existence of the secular state and toleration. As late as 1715 the Austrian government had denied all protection of the law to the numerous Hungarian Protestants. But after the French Revolution the few survivals of this old church-state unity were rapidly whittled away. Even in countries in which one church was established, all churches were given some form of protection; Protestant groups could spread, though slowly and under difficulty, in Spain or Italy. Even in tsarist Russia, which did not recognize toleration, Baptists obtained a foothold from which they were to build the second largest Christian denomination of Soviet Russia. Wherever western European and American ideas were influential, Protestant evangelists could work fairly freely, especially in the colonial territories of Africa and India. (see also Index: religious toleration)

Though the secular state thus helped Protestant (and Roman Catholic) expansion and variety, it also confronted all churches with urgent new problems. The American pattern, in which the state must have no constitutional connection with religion, stemmed as much from the old Congregational tradition as from the ideas of the Enlightenment and was never antireligious in intention. It was influential among the older churches of Europe. In Protestant countries where state and church had been in alliance since the Reformation the effect was twofold: the state became more neutral in its attitude toward the leading denominations of its territory; and the state church pressed harder toward independence from all forms of state control. Lutheran Germany produced a strong movement toward independence in the mid-19th century. In Scotland the evangelical movement demanded independence from the state in the appointment of ministers to parishes, and when this was refused by the courts and by the government, nearly half the Church of Scotland (1843) under the leadership of Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) left the established church to found the Free Church of Scotland. The two churches continued side by side (until their eventual reunion in 1929). In Switzerland a Reformed theologian, Alexandre-Rodolphe Vinet (1797-1847), pressed for the separation of church and state and in 1845 founded the Free Church.

In England the move toward independence in a state church was a feature of the Oxford Movement, founded by John Henry Newman (1801-90) in 1833. Here the movement took a course unique in Protestantism. It asserted independence by emphasizing all the Catholic elements within the traditional heritage of Protestantism and so created a school of thought that, though remaining within a Protestant Church, came close to repudiating the Protestant tradition as it was then commonly understood in Europe and America. Newman himself became a Roman Catholic in 1845 and was made a cardinal in 1879. Under the leadership of the survivors the Oxford Movement brought about a transformation in the worship, organization, and teaching of the Church of England within the traditional polity of an established and Protestant church. The remarkable sign of this change was the revival from 1840 on of nunneries and from 1860 on of monasteries. (see also Index: monasticism)

In German Lutheranism, under the influence of Pietism, Theodor Fliedner (1800-64) established in 1836 a "mother-house" for deaconesses that became a model for the many successor diaconate orders in Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States. These were the first such to appear in Protestant communities since the dissolution of monastic communities during the Reformation. In the mid-20th century France produced a celebrated community at Taizé devoted to ecumenical prayer and study. (see also Index: Taizé community)

On the whole the trend was always, though slowly, toward a free church in a free state. A few powerful conservative theorists, especially Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802-61) among German Lutherans, strenuously defended one version or another of the old link between throne and altar and the necessity for a single privileged church if revolution or rationalism were to be avoided. These theorists were usually viewed, however, as survivals from a past age. Much more powerful and contemporary were the theorists who, in resisting the trend toward denominationalism and pluralism, saw the church as the religious side of the nation and therefore wanted to broaden its doctrines and liberalize its polity. In England Frederick Denison Maurice defended the established church upon these liberal lines; and in Denmark, more easily because the population was so largely Lutheran, N.F.S. Grundtvig shrank from every form of denomination or confessionalism and wanted to make Christianity the spiritual aspect of Danish national life. Grundtvig's movement had extraordinary success; but Denmark, and to a lesser extent Sweden and Norway, were exceptions to the trend. The older Protestant churches steadily moved farther away from the state and unsteadily but gradually secured more autonomy in their organization.

ii) The rise of American Protestant influence in the world.

Since the 16th century the two centres of Protestant political power had been Germany and England. With German unity effected under Prussia and the rise to world power of Britain, the political force of Protestantism was stronger during the 19th century than at any time since the Reformation. But about 1860 it began to be clear that a third force was emerging in the United States. After 1820 American frontier conditions helped to extend the variety of Protestant forces, and denominations such as the Disciples of Christ, formed in 1832 from revivalist groups, arose. These Protestant denominations in time extended their influence beyond America. Many of the immigrants to America were Catholic, and in time the largest single denomination in the United States was to be the Roman Catholic. But the tone of American leadership and culture remained Anglo-Saxon, liberal, and Protestant. Many Germans and Scandinavians, usually of the Lutheran persuasion, emigrated to America, and American Lutheranism expanded until it became a centre of Lutheran life and thought of a weight equal to the original homes of Lutheranism in Germany and Scandinavia. Because the Lutheran leadership came largely from European pietistic groups, the American Lutheran churches tended to be more conservative in theology and discipline than the churches in Germany. The element of revivalism in American Christianity continued throughout the 19th century and helped the concept of a personal Christian faith to penetrate deeply into the American way of life.

iii) The spread of missions.

With the background of European strength in Germany and Britain, with the rising strength of the United States, and with the longest period of peace that Europe had ever known, the Protestant churches entered their greatest period of expansion. Confronted at home by the new cities, they developed social services on a scale hitherto unknown, such as in hospitals, orphanages, temperance work, care of the old, extension of education to the young and to working adults, Sunday schools, boys' and men's clubs in city slums, and the countless organizations demanded by the new city life of the 19th century. Abroad they carried Protestantism effectively into all those parts of Africa that were not under French or Portuguese influence, so that in southern Africa the Bantu became largely a federation of Protestant peoples. In India British and American missionaries steadily increased the strength of the newer Indian Christian churches. In China Christianity had been hitherto confined to the seaports and the survivors of Roman Catholic missions in the 17th century; but now a variety of evangelical groups, mostly financed from England or America and led by the China Inland Mission (founded 1865), created congregations deep in the interior of China. Japan had been closed to Christianity since 1630, and after its reopening in 1859 American and British missionaries created Japanese Christian churches. American missionaries developed Protestant congregations in the countries of South and Central America. All of the main Protestant denominations--Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists--developed into worldwide bodies, and all suffered strain in adjusting their organizations to meet these extraordinary new needs.


One of the most prominent features of Protestantism in the 19th century was the development of revivalist methods to meet the needs of an industrial and urban society. Although many urban poor seldom went to church, they listened to evangelical preachers in halls or theatres, or on street corners. Methodists and Baptists, familiar with revivalistic methods, made many strides forward, especially in the United States. Their efforts were not confined to reaching the working class. The English Baptist Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-92) secured a large audience in London and helped to make the ministry of Protestant dissent very powerful. His mission was for the most part to the educated rather than to the urban poor. For the lowest end of the social scale, a former Methodist preacher, William Booth (1829-1912), and his wife, Catherine, created in east London the agency of evangelism that was known from 1878 as the Salvation Army. They directed their mission to the men on the street corners, using brass bands and even dancing to attract attention. They differed from the Methodist revivalist tradition, from which they had sprung, by their belief in the necessity of a strong central government under a "general" appointed for life, and by abandoning the use of sacraments. At first they met much hostility and even persecution, but by the end of the 19th century the Salvation Army had securely established its place in British life and had become a worldwide organization.

In Sweden a Methodist preacher influenced Karl Olof Rosenius (1816-68), who introduced revivalism into Swedish Lutheranism. He and some disciples also were influenced by the movement that stemmed from Zinzendorf. Though there were links with Pietism, the new movement was quite unlike the little groups of Pietism. The Pietists wanted to gather men to salvation out of the world, whereas the Bornholmers (as they later came to be called in Denmark because of a famous episode in evangelism on the island of Bornholm) wanted to declare salvation to the world. The movement had effects in Norway and Denmark and in the Lutheran Church--the Missouri Synod in the United States--but never became as separate as the Salvation Army.

In the United States the development of revivalism was particularly marked in the expansion of the moving frontier. The memory of the Great Awakening (c. 1725-50) was always powerful, and in halls of cities as well as in the camps of the west, revivalistic preaching methods were effective. Protestantism was exceptionally strong because, in many cases, immigrant groups found in religion that link with their historic past that secular society could not for the time give them. Famous evangelists appeared to meet the need of the cities, especially Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) and Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-99).

Thus, some of the evangelistic power in Protestantism of the 19th century was drawn away from the traditional churches of the Reformation--Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican--and tended to create new forms of church life and new organizations. These almost always used lay preachers, were far more concerned with bringing the individual to conversion and little concerned with church order, and were sometimes content if they could draw a soul to Christ without worrying if it were drawn into a historical Christian community as understood since the Reformation. Consequently they developed a tendency, not common before the Pietist movement, to identify Protestantism with individualism in religion. Because the evangelistic endeavours subsequently produced separate organizations, the separate denominations and the varieties of Christianity that still called themselves--and with justice--Protestant were rapidly increased.

The secular state allowed or even stimulated the Protestant churches to establish further and powerful varieties of religious groups. Among radical Protestants several important groups or new churches emerged, and several of them were apocalyptic, owing their origin to expectations of the Second Coming of Christ. In Britain appeared the Plymouth Brethren, founded in 1827 by John Nelson Darby (1800-82), who separated themselves from the world in preparation for the imminent coming of the Lord. The Catholic Apostolic Church, formed in 1832 largely by the Scotsman Edward Irving, likewise prepared for an imminent coming. Apocalyptic groups and sects were successfully established in the United States, probably because of the absence in new areas of any settled or habitual church polity. The Seventh-day Adventists were founded by William Miller (1782-1849) of New York, again with an expectation of an immediate end of the world. Though not self-proclaimed Protestants, the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints), founded by Joseph Smith (1805-44), came out of a parallel waiting upon the end. Another set of groups arose from the revival of faith healing, the most important being the Christian Scientists, founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), who set up her first church in Boston. (see also Index: secularism, apocalypticism, revivalism)


i) Churches and social change.

Attacks on the churches during the 19th century (and after) were twofold: social and intellectual. Rapidly growing cities and industry created a proletariat estranged from religious life. Many of the political leaders, especially in Europe, claimed that the churches were bulwarks of that order of society which must be overthrown if justice was to be secured for the working class. Some of the earlier forms of socialism were atheistic or at least deistic and suspected free churches as fiercely as they suspected an alliance between altar and throne. Social and economic thinkers, such as Karl Marx (1818-83), argued that religion was the opium of the people, that it bade human beings to be content with their lot when they ought to be discontented.

In response to such views, in nearly every European country, Catholic or Protestant, there came into existence groups of "Christian Socialists," who believed (at least) in the doctrine that workers had a right to social and economic justice and that a Christian ought in conscience to work toward those political conditions that would achieve more social justice for them. Except for these basic views the Christian Socialists varied greatly in their outlook and ideas, whether political or theological. Adolf Stöcker (1835-1909), a court preacher in Berlin, was an anti-Semitic radical politician; and Charles Kingsley (1819-75), a clergyman novelist in England, was a warmhearted conservative who deeply sympathized with and understood the working class. The most profound of all the Christian Socialists was Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-72), a theologian of King's College in London until he was ejected in 1853, then a London pastor, and finally a professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge.

But in England and America the radical wing of Protestants--especially Baptists and primitive Methodists--did as much for the workers' religion as the intellectual leadership of a few Anglican theologians. In some cases the endeavours made Socialist parties possible for the Christian voter; in others they persuaded Christian voters or politicians--without actually voting for a Socialist party--to adopt policies that led toward a welfare state. Nevertheless, they made Christians more conscious of a social responsibility. In America the Social Gospel excited much influence in the churches at the end of the 19th century, and its most influential leader was a Baptist, Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918). Whereas in Catholic countries political parties arose that especially appealed to Christian voters and often used the word Christian in their name, in all the Protestant countries all political parties needed to appeal to Christian voters, and few avowedly secular parties had political success.

ii) Biblical criticism.

Besides political, social, and economic criticism, Protestantism was encountering an intellectual onslaught on Christianity. There were thinkers who declared that the advance of science and of history proved the Bible, and therefore Christianity, untrue. The question of biblical criticism was first posed in the German universities; i.e., whether a man might be a Christian and even a good Christian though he held some parts of the Bible to be not true. This became the great question for Protestantism, if not for all Christendom, in the 19th century. On the one hand Protestantism stood by the Bible and declared that the truth of God came from the Bible. On the other it rested in part on a fundamental conviction of the liberty of the human spirit as it encountered the Bible. Protestantism was thus seldom friendly to the tactic of meeting argument merely by excommunication or by the blunt exercise of church authority. The theological faculties of German universities, being state faculties and not church institutions, suffered much internal stress, but they arrived at last at the conviction that reasoned criticism--even when it produced conclusions opposed to traditional Christian thinking--should be met rather by refutation than by way of authority. Thus German Protestantism showed at length an elasticity, or open-mindedness, in the face of new knowledge, which was as influential in the development of the Christian churches as the original insights of the Reformation. Owing in part to this German example, the Protestant churches of the main tradition--Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Congregational, Methodist, and many Baptist communities--adjusted themselves relatively easily (from the intellectual point of view) to the advances of science, to the idea of evolution, and to progress in anthropology and comparative religion. (see also Index: Anglican Communion)

In such a flux of ideas, with the Protestant tradition seemingly under attack from Protestants, there was naturally a wide variety of approaches, both in philosophy and history. There was an opinion, represented by the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), that Christianity should be restated as a form of Idealistic philosophy. This view was influential for a time in Germany and afterward among Oxford philosophers of later Victorian England. Such restatements were subjected to destructive attacks, of which the most powerful were published by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, chiefly because such reasoned philosophy failed altogether to account for the depths and tragedies of human existence. An earlier opinion sought to base the justification of Christian faith in the religious feelings commonly found in humanity. A German philosopher, F.D.E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834), sought to infer the Christian and biblical system of thought from an examination of human religious experience. Schleiermacher's attempt had much influence on Protestant thought. Throughout the 19th century the appeal to religious experience was fundamental to liberal Protestant thinking, especially in the attempt to meet the views of modern science. Probably the most important of the successors of Schleiermacher was Albrecht Ritschl, who wholly rejected the ideas of Hegel and the philosophers; he distinguished himself sharply from Schleiermacher by repudiating general religious experience and by resting all his thought upon the special moral impact made by the New Testament on the Christian community. Between 1870 and 1918 the Ritschlian school was one of the leading theological schools of thought within the Protestant churches. (see also Index: idealism, Existentialism)

Meanwhile, scholars made long strides in the study and exposition of the Bible. Freed from the necessity of defending every one of its details as historical truth, professors at Protestant universities were able to put the books of the Bible into a historical setting. This made an important difference in the study of the New Testament but was a revolution so far as the Old Testament was concerned, where the entire earlier accepted chronology was changed. German Rationalist or Hegelian historians were the first to study the problems with freedom. Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860) of the University of Tübingen applied the methods of Hegelian philosophy to the documents of the New Testament, which he conceived to be products of the clash between the Jewish Christians led by Peter and the Gentile Christians led by Paul. This theory, known as the Tübingen theory, soon receded in influence; but in aid of this theory Baur expounded the texts with such ability as to make his study a landmark in the study of the Bible. Among a large number of excellent biblical students, Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-89) of Cambridge finally demolished the Tübingen theory by showing the 1st-century origin of most of the New Testament texts; and Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) of Berlin by the end of the century summarized the results of a century that was revolutionary in the area of biblical study. (see also Index: historical criticism)


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