Full Text for The Ghost of Pietism (Text)

242 'I'he Ghost of Pietism. We are also informed by the same paper that the cause of these efforts is to be sought in the fact that the Board of Education of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America had resolved to close the school for lack of funds. When it is remembered that this seminary was formerly the property of the Hauge Synod, where its doctrines and practisos had been taught and advooatod for yoars, the surprising amount of feeling which is evident in the articlos pro and con may be understood. The intention of tho Haugeans is to support this school in preference to all other schools in the Ohurch and to make it a stronghold of pietism. They also demand that their views shall be taught at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, the official seminary of the Church. Rev. Wick's argument for the effort now being made "to gather the pietistic element about a certain school" is based on the presence of "a natural gift molded by God's recreating grace into a gift of grace," the gift of praying and testifying in public. It is argued that gifts of this kind must not be ignored by the Church, but should be placed into its service. He says : "We are aware of a situation. The old Haugean lay preachers aro fast disappearing in our Church. One by one they are passing away, and few seem to rise to take their places. That is one thing. Then we have the language transition wielding its influence. The old men of God havo given their message almost exolusively in the Norwegian languago. A witness who is from now on g'oing to roaoh and influence the growing generation must be able to deliv~r his message in English." X ow, for this purpose they noed a school where laymen may receivo "some holp in handling the language, but particularly Bible knowlodge, Lutheran teachings, and homiletical assistance in the treatment of Bible texts." Of course, the students would have to be brethren with a definite, positive "Chris­tian experience." Preventing the establishment of a school for their training is referred to as an attempt to "choke the true Christian life." In the same issue of the Lutheran Herald, space is given also to an article by Rev. C. K. Solberg, who speaks somewhat more boldly, first, in his complaint of the "high-churchly tendency," which had no use for revival meetings or prayer-meetings, where the laity took part with testimony and free pTayer. Then follows the old-time Haugean complaint about "educational Christianity" (opdragelseskristendom). The danger of "a dead orthodoxy and formalism" is pointed out espe­cially in view of the fact that "many in the congregations are un­saved." While not willing to go so far as to demand that the layman who feels called of God to preach shall have the right to go into a con­gregation and hold meetings without the permission of the congrega­tion or its pastor, Solberg nevertheless compares the action of a congre­gation which refuses to permit lay preaching to the rejection of Ohrist's own disciples -"when ye depart out of that house, shake off the dust The Ghost of Pietism. 243 of your feet." Such congregations "will have to take the consequences and shoulder the responsibility themselves." To the present observer this attempt to revitalize Haugeanism looks like an attempt to galvanize into life the dead body of a move­ment which in its own day was not only blessed of God, but was un­doubtedly Spirit-driven, -the Haugean revival of Norway, 130 years ago. This man Hauge was not only what Kielland has called him, "the greatest man that Norway ever had," but was one of the greatest lay­men in the history of the Christian Church. To appreciate this high estimate, one must read Wilhelm Pettersen's The Light in the Prison Window, the Life-story of Hams Nielsen Hauge, or, better still, the biography by Bishop Bang. Hauge was a peasant, who lived in the age when a Norwegian bishop could sit and listen to a minister preaching "gospel" that had in it "neither a Savior nor remission of sin nor repentance nor sancti­fication and just about no God," -and say nothing or even praise the minister's eloquence and learning. Rationalism and materialism were in the saddle. Ministers, instead of preaching the Gospel of salvation, talked about planting potatoes and about vaccination and wrote drinking-songs. Bishops of the Church were outspokenly hostile to Christianity itself. The ministerial education was at low ebb. In some years there were only three theological candidates, in 1817 only one. In 1827 nine parishes were vacant in the Trondhjem district alone. In this age of spiritual corruption a Norwegian peasant, Hans Nielsen Hauge, rose as the leader of an evangelical Tevival. He preached repentance and conversion. His revival was not of the fa­natical type, with shouting, convulsive seizures, and similar mani­festations familiar to us from the American "Great Revival," but was simple preaching of the old Lutheran doctrine. Granted that there was too high a valuation of personal testimony, professions of sin and of conviction, -we shall not judge of these excrescences too harshly; the times may have called for such evidences of return to faith. Hauge brought back the Lutheran hymn, the Lutheran books of de­votion and postils, Pontoppjdan's Catechism, the Lutheran doctrine. His immense influence was due to the full assurance which he had of the grace of God and an irrepressible, irresistible desire to save others. The official Church did everything to discourage, hamper, hinder, persecute, berate, deride, beat, Hauge and his assistants and finally "imprisoned the only man who real1y knew his people and loved his country, till this big-hearted, warm-souled, clear-minded, strong­willed, sound-bodied man was a broken-down wreck, suffering from as many diseases as he had been years in prison." Now, in order to understand the situation in the Norwegian Lu-244 The Ghost of Pietism. theran Church in America, it must be remembered that the work of Hauge, chiefly through the arrogance and blind opposition of the state church, engendered an immense amount of bad feeling, in fact, worked a cleavage in the Norwegian people. As in other countries of Northern Europe, the revival at the beginning of the century was followed by a great strengthening of Lutheran consciousness. The Norwegian Church, too, produced a number of soundly Lutheran leaders, and when the emigration to America set in, there was a supply of orthodox ministers, men of the highest type of university training. But the Haugeans remained a people separate and aloof. They continued to regard the "educated minister" as somehow lacking in spirituality. These scholarly men had not "passed through the second birth," had no "experience" of salvation. They were orthodox, of course, but not "Spirit-filled." Haugean lay preachers continued to conduct their prayer-meetings among the immigrant settle~ents, and here and there Budbaereren, the official organ, would report revivals documented by distinct "manifestations" of the Holy Spirit's power. We might sympathize with the first and second generations of Haugeans in this country, knowing their antecedents in the home­land: the glorious results achieved by their leader and other lay preachers, the haggard opposition of the authorities, the suffering of shame and imprisonment for the sake of testifying to the power of Jesus -it had all been so glorious that we shall not blame the early Haugeans for efforts to continue the tradition, also the methods of the revival. To-day there is no justification, except that of sentiment, for con­tinuing the Haugean movement. The Norwegian Lutheran Church has had these many years orthodox and conscientious preachers. It has a laity awake to the preciousness of its Lutheran heritage, a laity that loves Lutheranism and makes every sacrifice for the maintenance of the ministry and of missions. It recognizes a divine favor in its present supply of educated and well-trained preachers. It appreciates higher education through church-schools like no other Lutheran body in the United States. And this writer sincerely believes that the Norwegian Synod farmers who mortgaged their property in 1889 when Luther College was burned, were as spiritual and consecrated as their Haugean neighbors who derided the "learned preachers." We do not believe that the pietistic movement of the eighteenth century in Germany was justified by conditions. As the Lutheran Herald pointed out editorially (November 24, 1931), the period of the great dogmaticians was by no means an age of dead orthodoxy. "The period of orthodoxy had men such as Johann Gerhard, the great dog­matician, a peaceful and pious man. John Arndt and Christian Scriver have written the best devotional books in the Lutheran Church. During the period of orthodoxy, Paul Gerhardt and others wrote some 5)er Spiritus Septiformis. 245 of our best hymns. When scholastic subtilities were common in the pulpit, men with a deep feeling for more spirituality gave expression to their Ohristian experience in spiritual psalms." To raise at this time the ghost of pietism lacks every justification from the standpoint of history. Even of the earlier Haugean lay preacher of Minnesota and Iowa it might have been said, as one English poet wrote of another:-He never could recapture His first fine, careless rapture. If, instead of returning to the discussion of lay preaching, prayer­meetings, and "the second birth," our Norwegian Lutherans would direct their attention to the amendment of their articles of agreement (Madison Opgjopr), they would attack a real problem and might achieve results which would lead to a greater unification of Lutheran iOTces than we have in America to-day, THEODORE GRAEBNER. ~er Spiritus Septiformis. ~n bem berannien l13fingftIieb Veni, Oreator Spiritus, bas frilfjet aiemIid) arrgcmein bem ~mlirofhts auge.fd)ticben hJurbc, bagegen aber bon ll.none (Hymni Latini, I, 242) mit grii13eret 2Bafjtfd)einIid)feit als bon ®regot bem ®ro\3en l±ammcnb lJcseid)net tn h:b , iaute± bie briHe ®±topfje: Tu septiformis munere, Digitus paternae dextrae, Tu rite promissum patris, Scnnone ditans guttura. ;tliefe ®±topfje if! bOll 2ubwig ~JCofet gegen @;nbe bcs 15. ~afjrfjunbeds nid)± ungefd)icU illietfe:\3t worhen: SDu Dift Die filienformig (lnaD, 5)er recf)tcn ~anD GOtS ft)nget trab, SDes batters gelilbt bon f)t)meltidJ, 5)ie fefen maef)eft reben tief). 2utfjets i'tbetfetung befitt bie borre Shaft bes OriginaW: SDu bift mit