Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pietism in the drivers seat, and Doctrine riding shotgun

Too often Reformed Christians disparage their siblings who are Pietists. Brad Boydston makes an astute comment on Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog:

"There are two reasons why Pietism gets misunderstood. The first is that it is a renewal or life movement rather than a doctrinal movement. It’s not saying that doctrine is bad — or unimportant but that it should not be in the driver’s seat. The car should be driven in a relational manner. That idea is troubling to those who have a rigid doctrinal system that they believe should drive everything.

Secondly, because it is not a tight system requiring uniformity in all matters, there are people within Pietism who have at times driven off in pretty weird directions — mysticism, extreme individualism or extreme focus on experience — to the degree that it pushes aside sound doctrinal input.

As I see it, though, you want to have a Pietist driving the car or it will never go anywhere significant. But you also need to have someone with a doctrinal orientation riding shotgun — and reading the map. They may annoy each other occasionally but the map reader is necessary or the driver can end up going in circles.

In 1 Timothy 4:16 the apostle tells Timothy to watch his life and doctrine. The church needs both the doctrinal and pietistic impulses. We’re the healthiest when we have been able to integrate both. Spener was calling the church to reintegrate both impulses. Those who caught the vision from him ended up doing some pretty amazing things — evangelizing the world, developing the notion of public education, caring for orphans and refugees…"

Comment by Brad Boydston — January 4, 2012 @ 10:39 am

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