The New Pietism Will Lead to The Same Old Results
“We do not have to look very far to see that today there is a new spirit of pietism abroad, a pietism that sees the essence of Christianity in the small, informal group, rather than in the total community of faith at worship within a recognized and formal liturgical order. It is a pietism that measures its success by the number of people it touches, rather than by the truth of the message it proclaims. It is a pietism that is preoccupied with “simple hymns” and informal structures of worship. It is a pietism that is impatient with the German Reformation of the sixteenth century, a pietism that asserts that we need new forms and less of the old. It is a new spirit of pietism that looks in many respects like the old pietism, the Pietism in the technical sense which we have considered here.
“The leading question, of course, is this: Where did the old Pietism lead? By the end of the eighteenth century German Lutheranism had almost disappeared.
“Liturgical forms had been eliminated, the highly developed church music of Bach and his contemporaries was no longer heard in the churches, and the content of the Christian faith had been watered down to little more than Unitarianism, with an invertebrate spirituality lacking the backbone of confessional theology. Instead of leading to a period of growth of the church, Pietism precipitated an era of decline of the church, a situation which was not reversed until, around the middle of the nineteenth century, there was a recovery of Lutheran confessional theology, Lutheran liturgical practice, and Lutheran church music, that is, a recovery of those things with which Bach was so intimately concerned.”
Bach and Pietism: Similarities Today, by Robin A. Leaver, Concordia
Theological Quarterly, 55:1 (Jan. 1991), pp. 5-22.