Sir:

     Gary E. Gilley’s ET essays on Pietism and subjective Christianity lack historical and theological objectivity. German Pietism was not rooted in Lutheranism but started in the 1660s in Reformed and formerly Reformed areas along the rivers Ems, Ruhr, Rhine and Lippe in Lower Germany; in Würtenberg and Alsace in Upper Germany and in Reformed Switzerland. The German church-based movement, pioneered by Theodor Undereyk, a Reformed pastor, was influenced by Swiss, Dutch, English, Scottish and North German Reformed teaching. Undereyk’s work spread from the Ruhr district into neighbouring countries, including Belgium whose persecuted Protestants were given asylum in Mülheim. This pietism was grounded in the balanced belief that doctrine must go hand in hand with a godly, active Christian life. Its emphasis was on exegetical, evangelical preaching. Missionaries were sent from this area to the New World and such as Theodor Freylinghausen, called by Joel Beeke the ‘Forerunner of the Great Awakening’ provided George Whitefield with his pattern of preaching and evangelism. India was supplied with missionaries from these churches long before Carey’s outreach. The Reformed pietistic revival which lasted for over a century, caused Neander, Spener, Franke, Gerhardt and Bengel to model their own Bible studies, family and house worship on Mülheim lines. Of these, only Neander, converted under Undereyk, was Reformed, the others were highly influential Lutheran ministers, but of Reformed piety.

     Alsace, where Arndt and Spener studied, had a thriving Reformed Church allied with the Zürich Reformation long before the Lutheran Augsburg Confession and both men were of this school doctrinally and experimentally. They rebelled against the dry orthodoxy of a Lutheran Church which decried conversion and made membership a matter of learning confessions by rote. Bengel, called the Father of Würtenberg Pietism, whom Gilley leaves out, stressed with Spener and Franke both the objectivity of God’s word and the need to be born again. Arndt’s True Christianity and Spener’s A Heartfelt Longing for a God-pleasing Reformation of True Evangelical (Protestant) Churches, challenged dead, legal Lutheranism to the core. Arndt, Spener, Franke and Bengel, the revivers of the Reformation in Germany, combated the growing Mysticism, Rationalism, Liberalism and wild enthusiasm in the churches. To link these scholarly Pietists with such movements as Gilley does is a grave misjudgement. They stand in direct lineage with Keil, Delitsch, Hengstenberg, Krummacher, Kohlbrügge and Oncken. Zinzendorf, who had an entirely different ecclesiology, was never part of them but admired their missionary and evangelistic Spirit.