Head or Heart: GLS Built Upon Both

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.

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Door Where Luther posted the 95 theses in 1517


Much work is being done on the buildings here as they prepare for a huge influx of people to commemorate the 500yr birthplace of the reformation 2017. 

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As promised, the trip to Mannheim

Just remember this was written on the train coming back on Sunday

Today was Mannheim, our ancestral capital city or at least it is mentioned in many accounts that I have read as a city that was a main loading point to start their decent down the Rhine towards Rotterdam. We first went to the Rhine river which was absolutely amazing. The last time someone in my family saw it, they were being fired on from the very side on I was standing on. No words could express how I felt just knowing that this 100 yard river played a huge role in my family’s and Europe’s history. Even better, it was just Spencer, me and a guy on a John Deere lawnmower there to see it at 7:45 this morning. I was on the banks of the river that was a boundary for the Roman Empire. It was near this river that Roman General Varus lost probably over 100,000 men, over 10 Roman Legions to a Germanic ambush that left even the powerful Caesar Augustus in grief and he was not able to expand his empire any more after that. It was running very swift and there were barges on it now just as there would’ve been in 1731 when my ancestor Casper Holshouser embarked on a long journey to the American colonies from probably not far from where I was standing. The city itself was very modern and industrial. We helped to get rid of their historic buildings during many bombing runs during World War II so not much remains from before. It still felt very awesome that I was standing where my ancestors did so long ago though.

Here’s a picture of me at the Rhine and the river in black and white:

I’m writing this on the train from Frankfurt to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Looks like instead of a four hour train ride it will be close to eight due to vandalism on the power cables that run the trains. But once again, a historical perspective shines through. The tracks back to the Lutherhaus were probably in about the same location during World War II and on them, thousands of German soldiers were rushed to the Western Front from the Russian Eastern Front to help fight the American, British and Canadian armies and stall their advance. This is also about the same route some of Napoleon’s army took through Germany on their way to some of their greatest victories like Jena and Austerlitz and Napoleon’s greatest defeat once he invaded Russia and stretched his supply lines from France all the way to Moscow through hostile territory. It’s an amazing feeling if you really understand the history of the area that you are in here. A lot of what happened in Germany helped to shape the Western World in ways that England, Spain and France played supporting roles. It’s really beyond words to describe.

Hope everything is fine back at home, Spencer and I miss it a lot but we are still having a good time here.  The connections between our church and Germany that we are finding are really cool and this is just a scratch of the surface.  I can’t wait to do more work on it when I get back to the States and can research in my own language…

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Calvin, You, & Me – We all Need Mentors

Calvin received some of the best mentoring and advise from Butzer after he (Calvin), was kicked out of Geneva, frustrated by reforming efforts, but glad to leave.God was equipping him for his return. When you talk with folks about church, maybe some of these advises people want to hear but we are afraid it will deter them! Scholar for Christ and Christian to the world.

1. Calvin only wanted to do scholarly work (at the time). Butzer pushed Calvin into reform into the church as a high calling (Luther had proposed that every calling is a high calling.) Until Butzer changed his mind, Calvin did not realize that he could be a scholar for the “glory of God” in doing this. Do not think you can leave the ministry of God without offending God?

2. Learned church organization and pologey. Intergrating church and city. (Our Community Vision this year is spot on – “God Cares, We care” – Building and bridging relationships within the church and in the community!!)

3. Importance of “Ecumenical Protestantism” (that is, do not hate each other when you are not in complete agreement with someone.) Learn to work together for the common goal. This is one of the key facets Calvin was received internationally.

4. Exergetical Practice and his Worship Style. Calvin states “I have particularly copied Butzer in much of my style. There is none better than Butzer.” On his deathbed he stated that he never distorted scripture.

5. Butzer encouraged Calvin to learn how to be a pastor and to teach. Strassburg became a leading center for Christian reform education in Europe.

6. Butzer said, “You need a wife.” (Amen!)

7. Butzer taught Calvin the “Marks of the True Church”; A question we all should be asking – why do I attend church?

*True preaching of the Word of God: (preaching entire books)

*True administration of Sacraments: (importance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.) Think about this. As Baptist pushed toward conversion, nothing wrong with this; yet we should rediscover that as we nurture youth towards profession, membership and thus, communion – there is greater news for the reformed. We have communion often (time to mediate, pray, decide and rededicate! – Sound like an alter conversion?)

*Church Discipline: Goal is restoration out of love, not a “gotcha” attitude.

Unlike before, Calvin was now prepared to return to Geneva In 1539 to be the reform leader with the tools to be both pastor and preacher and friend. The Genevians were asking for Calvin’s return and he agreed with one stipulation – that he would draft rules between church and state, church independent of the state. At the time, the state hired pastors. Here we get education, church life and the consistory. Doctors were to be the seminary of the church. Pastor were to teach the word, administer the sacraments, instruct and admonish. Deacons were responsible for the administration of the taking care of the needy and charity – Elders were responsible for the spiritual welfare and discipline (this word comes from “being a disciple”) in the community.

So Calvin asked the question “How do you know someone is a Christian?”

1. Profess openly

2. Over a period of time will show fruits

3. Will want to regularly take communion

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Weather and other stuff

Keith’s comment made me remember that I haven’t told you guys anything about the weather here in Germany.  I packed two pairs of shorts and haven’t worn them yet.  The highs here barely get out of the 70s and 80 is about the hottest it has been here.  We’ve been keeping track of weather in the states and we hear there is another heat wave coming.  After being here in the cool, I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle giving tours at the Charlotte Museum in 100 degree weather anymore (just joking Liz, I’m still planning on being in first thing Tuesday morning).  The days are a lot longer up here since we are farther North.  The sun comes up…at some time very early…and goes down after 9:30.  When it does go down though, it’s so pretty with orange light reflecting through the narrow streets.

I’ve also worn about all the clothes in my suitcase (except for the shorts) so things should start getting interesting clothes wise pretty soon.  And we really are starting to miss home because of the distance and different culture.  Monday, on the way home from Frankfurt, I think Spencer said he missed Aurora and Cameron six or seven times to me.  I feel the same way about Amber and yes I miss my momma too.

The lectures over the past few days have really helped me connect Lower Stone church to the larger Reformation and I didn’t realize just how important Germany was to the development of the modern university system/world until this trip.  I’ll try to explain that a bit better in a later post or I’ll have to have it worked out by the time I give the presentation about the trip.  It’s one of the most profound things I have found out so far.

I’m going to try to post up some pictures now, hopefully they’ll all come out in the end.  My Mannheim update is coming, I need to edit what I wrote on the train coming back from it for clarity and length, I don’t want to bore you guys to death talking about history.

We miss you all, but we are having lots of fun.  Any questions, please post a comment and ask.



The east side of where we are staying. You probably can't zoom it, but there are really cool carvings on the side.


The huge organ at city church where Martin Luther preached. It's a new one though so I got to see and hear it, he didn't.The pulpit at City Church. Not the one Luther preached from, a piece of that is in the museum right beside of where I am about to go to sleep.


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