Be Still My Soul

In the latter half of the 17th century a new revival was breaking out in Germany. The revival was pietism and the themes of this new movement were: “Living the Christian life versus doctrine,” and “Real conversion versus the appearance of godliness.”
Be Still, My Soul” was written by a German woman, Katharina von Schiegel during that time, but it really took three people to put it together as the hymn we sing today. Katharina wrote the words, originally in German. One hundred years later the hymn was translated into English by Jane Borthwick. The final contributor was Finland’s greatest-composer, Jean Sibelius. One movement from his “Finlandia” is used as the tune for our hymn. God used people from three countries to create this hymn. It teaches us that God is in control and to wait on Him when enduring challenging times.

It is based on Psalm 46, particularly verse 10:

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

What is Pietism?

My husband, our Pastor, wrote this article for our most recent newsletter.  I think it is helpful in explaining this movement within the Lutheran Church which is often misunderstood.  Of course, he is writing from the perspective of our particular Lutheran denomination, the Association of Free Lutheran Churches (AFLC).  Some of our authors are from other Lutheran bodies and I am hoping will give us some historical perspectives on how they evolved.

The AFLC traces its beginnings in this country to a revival movement among Lutherans in the 1890’s.  But the beginnings of our theological basis are found in a Lutheran movement know as Pietism that began in the 17th century in Germany and spread through Scandinavia.

Pietism is first of all Lutheran, with a special emphasis on the work of Martin Luther.  It seeks to encourage all believers to be able to say with St. Paul that they have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer they who live, but Christ who lives in them (Gal. 2:20).

Pietism advanced among people who sought for their lives more than simple church attendance and agreement with a set of doctrines.  It is at its heart a desire to live in a way which reflects a deep felt desire to grow daily in sanctification.

One of the disciplines many pietists embraced in their desire for a more Christian life was participation in what were then called conventicles.  A conventicle was a meeting of Christians outside of the regular church services where they would study and pray together.  We no longer refer to these meetings as conventicles but, in American parlance, as small group ministries.

Those who opposed Pietism tried to charge these conventicles with luring people away from the church and leading them into the possibility of theological error.  Some oppose such groups today for similar reasons.

However, it has been shown over and over again that a congregation with an active conventicle/small group ministry will have a deeper spiritual life than one which focuses all its work on Sunday morning.


Lutheran Pietism

I didn’t think a month on the subject of piety would be complete without something about the pietistic movement in the Lutheran church. I asked my husband to post about it, because he has much more expertise in this area. I hope you enjoy this bit of Lutheran history!


It’s said that when the early German settlers came to this country they often brought two books with them–Luther’s translation of the Bible and Johann Arendt’s book True Christianity.  True Christianity was the opening statement, if you will, in the movement that became known as Pietism.  Since that time this movement has been hailed as a saving force for Reformation theology and demonized as a substitution of personal feelings for Biblical truth.

I’ve been asked to write a little about Pietism and I’ll admit that I think it has overall been a good thing, but like any system established by people, it has its flaws and dangers.

The early Reformers did not spend much time on systematizing their theology–they were too busy dealing with the immediate problems and dangers they were facing.  In the generations after Luther’s death, Lutheran scholars began to work on theology in way Luther had not…

View original post 352 more words