Excited to share part of today’s lecture! A must read!
I should begin by saying, she (GLS) began with heart while understanding the importance of Christian education. I say this because the the German Reformed folks that braved the sea and eventually established GLS were Pietist first (description below), and theologians second. This may be one of the most interesting discoveries for me so far. Spener will say (paraphrased): As the [Luther] Catechism are the rudiments of Christianity, and many have learned their faith from it; we need to recognize and reform deficiencies in the German church while remaining thankful for some things that should stay the same (confessions, order) while not taking pietism too the extreme. I would love your feedback here as this has helped me understand you so much better.
Here we go!
Spener (1635-1705) supported Sunday Worship & Chatechisms but, as noted above, was not convinced this is the only way to lead a horse to the water. So he wrote Pia Desideria that included three parts – This post focuses on the the third part.
Part 1 – There is a problem with church as we know it.
Part 2 – What will happen without Reform?
Part 3 – Offers a Reform Program of Six Points.
This is not a magic formula but we all should consider these in our personal lives and the life of the church.
1. Spener was a proponent of intensified Study of the Bible (more of the Word of God at home(afterall, Luther did call the first church “a house”)
2. Spener craved the need for a revival of “priesthood of believers” (fuller exercise by the laity of their spiritual preisthood)
3. Spener wanted greater emphasis on the practical side of Christianity, culminating in a spirit of love. That is, balance of knowledge and heart. (Example: Love of Neighbor – First towards Christians then towards all people)
4. Spener warned against unneccesary theological controversy (aimed at winning the heart not just the head)
5. Spener advocates reorginazation of formal theological education in the universaties; HOWEVER – where is the emphasis on a higher standard for spiritual formation)
6. Spener asked for a Reform of Preaching to Simple, full of Truth and Edifying (versus solely academic)
Overall theme of Dia : There is no true theology without a focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. Spener is promoting a “little church” within the church. (Again, prayer, preaching, small groups, “confessors”).
Here at the Wittenburg seminary where we are staying, the Lutherans (in general) tryed to smear him with over 243 articled points (I could be off on these the exact number but there were many).
In sum: Spener pushes for (in his time) what we see (or should see) common for evangelicals of our time. He wanted to see lay ministry grow into their calling because the pastor cannot care for the whole church. He advocates personal prayer, small groups (Bible studies), and having an accountability partner. He was not a proponent of overly academic sermons and constant polemics (strong verbal or written attack on someone or something) in the pulpit. Borrowed from a friend this may serve as a closing:
Study without piety is worthless and those who “have put on Christ in Baptism, must also keep Christ on and bear witness to him in our outwardly lives”. All to nurture an inner man that becomes an outward living Christian.