Full Text for Church History 3 - Volume 16 - Pietism and Missions (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CH3-016 PROFESSOR LAWRENCE REST PROFESSOR WILL SCHUMACHER Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***** >> DAVID: I appreciated your explanation of Pietism so much that now I am compelled to ask: Was there a connection between Pietism and missions? It does seem to me that the Pietists would have felt compelled to send missionaries out into the world, but I'm wondering what influence their Pietistic doctrines and practice had upon mission activity. >> SPEAKER: Thanks, David. You're absolutely right. The Pietists did have this sense of needing to share the gospel. They emphasized, of course, not only their own personal conversion but also the need to witness to that faith. Early Pietist leaders such as Philipp Jakob Spener emphasized both aspects and were serious about the need to share the gospel. They also expected the very soon imminent return of Christ. There was a sort of eschatological urgency to this business of sharing the gospel. They saw it as important that all peoples have the opportunity to hear the gospel and be converted before the Day of Judgment which they believed would come very quickly. Beyond Lutheran circles, Count Zinzendorf, Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, the founder of the Moravian movement, carried these ideas of Pietism and mission and really acted that out as he spread the gospel and preached beyond Europe. Zinzendorf was one that saw the world as an important field for spreading his understanding of the gospel. It also happened that just at that time when European rulers associated with the Reformation had the opportunity and saw needs for becoming involved in world mission. It was also the same time that Pietism was taking root as an important force in the church in Europe. I mentioned a moment ago King Frederick IV of Denmark. He became concerned with his far-flung colonial interests in India and decided that in addition to sending a Danish pastor for the Danish officials at the colony who were serving as their chaplain, that he would also recruit missionaries to go and preach the gospel of Christ to the indigenous inhabitants of that area. He found that he couldn't recruit any Danish missionaries for that work and decided to turn to the German University of Halle where the Pietist leader August Francke supplied him with two promising young men from the theological department, Bartholomew Ziegenbald and Henry Plutschau. Ziegenbald and Plutschau, both Germans, thus became the first Lutheran foreign missionaries trained by the Pietist faculty at Halle and sent out not by their own church in Germany, but rather by the king of Denmark to go and work in India. They arrived in south eastern India in Trankebar in July of 1706. So that can be viewed as the birthday of Protestant foreign missions, July of 1706, the very first non Roman Catholic European missionaries to arrive in India. But you asked not only about the Pietists being concerned about mission, you also asked about how Pietism affected the whole mission of the church. South African missiologist David Bosch in his important work of missiology highlights several ways that Pietism shaped the Protestant missionary idea. First of all, he says Pietism marked the shift away from regarding mission as just a duty of a Christian ruler. When we talked about Roman Catholic missions, I mentioned the kings of Spain and Portugal understood it as their duty as a ruler to see to the spiritual well-being of their subjects either in Europe or in their colonies. And that led them to support missions. Something of that idea was also present with King Frederick IV of Denmark, the Lutheran king who sent missionaries to India. But Pietism really worked against that by highlighting not just the duty of colonial governments but also the duty of the church in mission. Secondly, Pietism shifted responsibility from what we might call professionals in that mission to ordinary Christians. Pietism as a movement helped ordinary Christians understand that they had an active and important role in missions, either as supporters or, in many cases, as missionaries themselves. So the ordinary Christian came to see himself or herself as having an important and active role in mission. The third point that Bosch makes is that the movement of Pietism tended to cross boundaries of nationality and confession. It thus introduced a more ecumenical element into world mission work which became very important in later developments in Protestant missions. We see that in a preliminary way already with the example of Frederick IV and the two Germans that he sent. These were not from the same church structure. They came from the church in Saxony. They didn't work for the same nationality of ruler or church. They worked for the Danish king, were sent by him and commissioned by him. Their Pietist sympathies meant that they were able to cross some of the traditional boundaries of hierarchy and confession that otherwise tended to divide the churches of the Reformation. The fourth point that David Bosch makes is that through the influence of Pietism, Germany became, for more than a century, the leading Protestant missionary country in all of Europe. Germany had not had the early opportunities of colonies and empire that Spain and Portugal had. But Germany, as the birthplace of the Reformation, quickly became the most important missionary sending country in Europe, at least for Protestant missions. And finally, Bosch highlights the fact that Pietist missionaries exhibited several traits that were tremendously important in the success and long term fruit of the work of Protestant missions throughout the world. They were enormously dedicated to their work, and they were willing to sacrifice personally for the sake of this task. This willingness for self sacrifice had previously really been exhibited mostly in the Roman Catholic missionary orders which were characterized by a great, almost a spirit of martyrdom in many cases, as the early Jesuit missionaries had gone around the world and suffered great setbacks and hardships and often even death in the course of their work as missionaries. The Pietists brought this sense of tremendous dedication and willingness to sacrifice also to Protestant missions which made a lasting impact. So, yes, the movement of Pietism was crucially important, not only because the Pietists themselves became involved in mission actively, but also because they helped shape the way Protestants in Europe thought about the missionary task and the vocation of missionary service. ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *****