Monday, April 05, 2021

Thank you, Pietists! I mean it!


Many so called “confessionals” are offended with Pietism. Many pastors who claim to being “confessional’ deem them to be the enemy of “the faith”. The pietists emphasized life more than doctrine, it is behaviour over theology. They hate it with vigorous hatred. Indeed, it is to your doom once you are labelled a “pietist”.  There are many bad words amongst “confessionals” you dare not get pinned on you. This probably takes the cake.


Whereas to the extreme, some of the Pietists value much, living the faith, that it deteriorates Christianity to a work-based religion, there are some things I respect and learn from Pietism.

I must remember that Pietism is a reaction to dead orthodoxy. Hence, if you do not want pietism to rise in your midst, stop being dead in your faith.

Dead orthodoxy, stinks like a dead church mouse. Pietism is a rightful rejection of it. Pietism did not rise from a vacuum; it arose out of human reflection on one’s life in line with Christ’s teaching in comparison to believing versus the doing. You do not need to look away from you to others, you just look at your own life, and you will agree, it is stale like bland bread. Faith produces works.  Faith without works is dead. Even James 2:14-26.

What I observe with dead orthodox people is that in the main, there is lack of love, when in fact this is what faith is supposed to produce. In the NT, the Pharisees valued observance of rules over love and compassion for the people in need. Jesus’ very actions rebuked this proud idea - we see this encounter in Matt 12: 1-14. For the Lord, doing something compassionate for a person in need, is more important than following the rules.

Dead orthodoxy, does not have faith that leads to love, it just has rules. It prides itself with following rules from tradition. Mk 7:7-13.

Dead orthodoxy does not like talking about demonstrable expressions of faith; when you get emotional with Jesus, that is a no-no. It denies that faith that produces love for God and fellowman does not have to affect you. Correct, I said, affect. It is impossible to say we love Christ and we are indifferent towards him, or to say, we love our brothers and sisters in the faith and not feel their sorrow nor feel their joy. Affection, people who claim “orthodoxy” don’t have this.

In dead orthodoxy, affirming sets of assertions, thus doctrines, is much easier than working on repenting of your behaviour. It is a great substitute for being accepted by your circle and even transposing it to think you are being accepted by God.

To me pietism is really a reaction against hypocrisy.

This love that faith produces according to St Paul in Gal 5:6, he also defines, in 1 Cor 13:1-13. This is the character of this love. He even says, even if I have understanding of all knowledge and have no love, I am still nothing. Even if I have faith to believe the impossible to happen, and yet have no love, I am still nothing.

This love combines mercy and truth together – it is found in our Lord Jesus who is described by St John where grace and truth are found John 1:17. The Psalmist said the same Ps 85:10. Dead orthodoxy has one but does not have the other, which is fake after all because love is not found nor evident in it.

Jesus and his disciples like Paul and John talked about love. If we miss this important issue, we miss the whole point of the Lord’s teaching. St John even says God is love. It is the fruit of the HS. 

You want rules? Only one rule Gal 5:14. All laws are fulfilled in with one word – love.

Love to many is not interesting – having a theological brawl is more exciting. People are bored by this teaching about having love for our neighbour and even our enemies. It is less attractive because it is hard. Indulging in believing this or that is a lot easier, you can do it on the couch.

What the Good Samaritan did was hard. It involved his time, his money and his energy, but it was he who showed love not those who claim orthodoxy such as the scribe who passed by.

To miss a faith in Christ that has no love is to miss the whole point of the Christian faith.

Actually, maybe I should have changed my title of this post.

Maybe it should be -- Thank you, Pharisees! I mean it!