Guess Who

Who is the writer? And even more, who is the writee? (I quote loosely, to avoid dropping clues)

They developed four distinctive emphases:

  • They preferred the subjective to the objective (“heart” to the “head”)
  • They preferred the spontaneous to the planned (rejecting liturgy)
  • They emphasized the individual I more than the corporate we.
  • They emphasized the small group rather than the visible church as the source of spiritual growth.

Be the first with the right answer(s), and as a reward everybody will know that you are smart.

[Update: Commenter ‘Tony’ is smart! The writer is T. David Gordon, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns, pp. 144-5, discussing the connection between German (Lutheran) Pietism and modern American Evangelicalism. An extended quote is in the comment trail below.]

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14 Responses to Guess Who

  1. MS says:

    the Wesley bros. (?)

  2. RubeRad says:

    Nope, although I dare say all four bullets would apply…

  3. dr p says:

    The Donatists would work, too, but I’m not placing any bets.

  4. Tony says:

    Is it our (Lutheran) man Walther, describing the pietists?

  5. RubeRad says:

    Smart man (in not placing any bets). But that’s the beauty of this quote; it does describe more than one group very accurately; including today’s Evanjellyfish, but as I am learning through everybody’s guesses, many others

  6. RubeRad says:

    Wow — great guess, you got the writee bang on the nose, even with a great (but wrong) guess at the writer! The group being described is Lutheran Pietism.

  7. RubeRad says:

    To help nail down the writer, here is an expanded quote:


    Some religious and theological movements have also exacerbated the situation. German Pietism of the seventeenth century arrived in North America thinly disguised as what we call revivalism or evangelicalism. Originally, in Germany, Pietism was a reaction to and rejection of the state church. The state church was, in large measure, moribund, as I believe all state churches eventually become. The solution, in my judgment, is to remove any civil support for the church, and effectively thereby remove the equivalent of civil servants from the gospel ministry. Students of Pietism weren’t able to think this way, however. They thought the problems had other sources, and they developed four distinctive emphases, unwittingly borrowed from Romanticism.

    • They preferred the subjective to the objective (“heart” to the “head,” we would say).
    • They preferred the spontaneous to the planned (rejecting the Lutheran liturgy).
    • They emphasized the individual I more than the corporate We.
    • They emphasized the small group (they called it the collegia pietatis) rather than the visible church as the source of spiritual growth.

    Pietism was (and is) therefore a somewhat deliberately antiformal approach to Christianity. When it blends with a culture that is also moving in anti-formal and anti-ritualistic ways, far from resisting the culture’s movement, it accelerates it.

    Regardless of its source, the result is the same: an unwitting and therefore unintended conveying of either that nothing is genuinely significant or that the meeting between the ascended Christ and his people is not significant, either of which I judge to be seriously erroneous and seriously sub-Christian.

  8. dr p says:

    that’s because Solomon was right when he said that there was nothing new under the sun. The same old heresies keep repeating like greasy spoon grub; and like it, doesn’t ttaste any better on subsequent trips.

  9. Tony says:

    Still barking up the Lutheran tree…. Herman Sasse?

  10. RubeRad says:

    Sorry, barking at Lutherans won’t get you any farther in this game…

    As a hint, the although the writer is not a Lutheran, he is a member of TWO other great branches of Protestantism. Although that hint might only be helpful if you already know the answer.

  11. Tony says:

    Well, this dog is done barking. One last desperate guess – Mike Horton, who is ordained as a deacon in the Anglican tradition (Reformed Episcopal Church) besides his impeccably Reformed street cred (unless you hail from Westminster Philly).

  12. RubeRad says:

    Wow, again sooo close! You got the right two limbs of protestantism, so I’m going to go ahead and award you 99 44/100% smart. I didn’t know that Horton had ties to the Anglican tradition (although I guess it shouldn’t be surprising given his English degrees). I wonder how many people are aware that T. David Gordon is not only a PCA minister, but is a member of an Anglican church.

    And it is he that penned the quote in question, on p. 145 of Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns. Good work Tony, you got most of the right answers for all of the wrong reasons!

  13. Tony says:

    I’m still honored to take the Ivory Standard of Smartness award, with thanks to the Outhouse Academy.

  14. RubeRad says:

    Ah, the Outhouse Academy, such fond memories. I can still see in my mind’s eye, your brilliant performance in your final examination for Handwashing 101.

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