Monday, August 20, 2007

Pietism, Puritanism and Evangelical Awakening between 16th to 18th century.

The missionary enterprises in Europe and England were marked by many movements led by men and women in the church. The Puritanism in New England, German Pietism, Methodism and the Great Awakening were all evangelical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries which attracted many women for the mission of the church. The protestant Evangelical Awakening had its roots in the earlier German Pietism, the Puritanism in New England and the Moravianism, all these have impacted on the evangelical awakening. The most interesting thing to notice is that along with men the women also have participated in the movement. Pietism stressed on the pious life as puritans stressed, but both of them stressed on the missionary work of the church and of every Christian. One of the notable features of all these movements led many women to be a part of it. In this paper let’s see the role of women, their contribution and their thrust for the new awakening.

Puritans were Protestant Christians rooted and grounded in Christian Scriptures, Creeds, Practices, Literature and ritual. They inhabited a Christian Cosmos and shared its story of creation, redemption and fulfillment. In the history of Puritanism women have played a major role in upholding the teachings of Puritans. The women had shared equal responsibility in the church activities and the women have control over other men. They also defended their minister at times when he was in trouble. As the historian of Elizabethan Puritanism, Patrick Collinson asserted “it was the women of London who occupied the front line in defense of their preachers, and with a sense of emotional engagement hardly exceeded by the suffragettes of three and a half centuries later.” [1]
In the 16th century the women members were high in number who joined the Puritanism. In 1660s there were more than 80% of women members in the New Heaven Church, and their regular attendance did not go below 50% of total membership. In the 17th century the women shared a equal place with the minister, deacons and elders. Queen Elizabeth had tried to have control over the church and played an important role in the English Reformation. During Queen Mary’s time a great persecution happened to the Elizabethan followers, and many of them fled to other parts and came under the strong influence of Protestantism. They lived a pure life, so they were nick named as ‘puritans.’
Now the question may arise what made the women to be attracted to Puritanism? How did they survive in the church as members? A simple answer can be given that they had an equal responsibility with men. As Kochler sees it, “Puritans attracted to keep women subordinate and dependent by limiting their educational opportunities, separating the sexes whenever possible, providing no possibility of female economic security out side marriage, censuring ‘old maids’ deprives women of the vote in the church and commonwealth….” [2] As the reformation was taking place many women attracted to the Puritanism because “women were drawn to them partly because of the seductiveness of puritan Theology and Puritan ministers: especially when delivered by an inspiring preacher, images of Christ as a ravishing bridegroom and God as an Omnipotent Father answered women’s desires for powerful love objects. Thus Puritan sermons on the nature of conversion and the devotional characteristics of faith in God offered women imaginary experience of erotic satisfaction and emotional security.”[3] Puritan Theology and puritan preachers attracted women by enabling them to exercise the public authority. They controlled the ministers and in the course of time there were some women parishioners in New England. As William Gouge puts in his encyclopedia of Domestic Duties, he says, “Though a husband in regard of evil qualities may carry the image of the devil, yet in regard to his place and office, he beareth the image of God.”[4] However the Puritans believe that the female enjoys the moral liberty as being a Christian wife. As Kochler Keller and Barker Benfield say that the radical Puritanism was an effective means for women to protest the male dominance and assured their authority as women. However, Anne Hutchins view is that it is trying to eliminate the women’s status and women’s equality than ideas about religious experience ideas. The domestic life of women in England emerged as a historical response to social turbulence. In the area of marital relations they affirmed that marriage was a sharing not only of the spiritual but also of the sensual, recognizing that the sensual had an important part to play. They encouraged the education for all and learning was emphasized. One thing to notice is that until John Banyan’s wife would teach him he was an illiterate.
Puritans flourished as a social reform movement after 1558. Puritanism helped for the social and domestic stability among men and women. With all these we can come to a conclusion of women in Puritanism with three main points. 1. The Puritanism helped women to exercise the authority indirectly and had influence over men. 2. Puritanism emphasized on the marriage of female and male and expanded the domestic role of women and thus it helped the women to resist the dominance of male. 3. The social inequality, fear, subordination, exploitation also helped women to be attracted to Puritanism.

While Puritanism attempted to reform the church structure by political means, pietism avoided it and emphasized on individual spirituality. “Pietism is the name for a great religious awakening within the Protestant churches of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the continents of Europe. The name was derived from religious gatherings called the ‘Collegia Pietatis’.” [5] The word ‘Pietist’ came into use in the last quarter of the 17th century and the Pietist movement was started by Phillip Jacob Spener of Halle University. “Spener instituted devotional circles for prayer, Bible reading etc; he emphasized the universal priesthood of all faithful, without, however in essence deviating from Lutheran doctrine or intending to separate from the church.”[6] For him personal spiritual experience is more important than intellectual acceptance of the doctrines of the church. Pietism was a mixture of the mystical and practical tendencies within the Lutheran and Reformed churches. It started simultaneously in Holland, Germany and Switzerland, and it is believed the earliest movement was started in Holland. The Pietists stressed on the practical and upright living in faith. They emphasized on the affair of heart than head. It was Agustus Herman Franke was influenced by Spener and brought the Pietist movement in Germany to its great climax.

Three things may be mentioned about the context of the Pietist movement in Germany. “First, the Thirty Years’ War greatly damaged the churches in Germany, and produced low morality among the people as a whole. Second, the theology of preaching of Lutheranism became absorbed in polemical defense against Roman Catholicism and Calvinism. Lutherans emphasized correct doctrine, and confessional rigidity, ushering in the age of Lutheran orthodoxy and Protestant Scholasticism. Third, the Lutheran emphasized on sacramental regeneration, and the omission of teaching on conversion and regeneration through the vital work of the Holy Spirit resulted in deadness in the church and low morality among the people.”[7]
The German Pietism was mainly influenced by the writings of Puritans in England and their translation into German. As Keith R. Bridston observes:
The Pietist movement, one of the most dynamic and creative movements in modern Church history, with its strong emphasis on the inner life and personal commitment, was the source of renewal in many churches, not least in arousing missionary concern within them. The powerful impact of Pietism on the missionary movement, s both an energizing force and a continuing ideological influence, is well known. In a real sense, Pietism made the protestant missionary enterprise.[8]
Since the Pietists stressed on the mission work and the priesthood of all believers there was room for women too to be the part of movement. Many young went as missionaries to the foreign lands. Since the Pietist attracted many young people like Puritanism many women also have joined the movement. I hope many women actively participated in this movement.

Evangelical Awakening
The chief out come of the evangelical awakening was the rise of the modern missionary movement. “The pietistic movement and Evangelical Awakening were significant contributing factors for the emergence of Modern Missionary Movement in the late 18th century and in the 19th century as well.”[9] In the protestant mission there are three major evangelical awakenings, they are; “first, the Great Awakening in the North American colonies between 1726 and1760, beginning within the Dutch Reformed congregations and later spreading others”. The pioneer of this movement was Jonathan Edwards. “The second major force that influenced this missionary movement was the birth of Methodism”.[10] During this time in 1735 John Wesley and his older brother went as missionaries to Georgia. The third significant event that set the stage for this period was the Evangelical Revival (in England) and the Second Great Awakening (in the United States).[11]
In the Evangelical Awakening the women also have played a major role. “Elizabeth Fry worked in among the prisoners. In England, Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791), founder of the Calivnistic Methodist denomination during the Evangelical Awakening, functioned as a bishop by virtue of her right as a peeress to appoint Anglican clergymen as household chaplains and assign their duties, and to purchase presentation rights to chapels, enabling her to decide who would conduct services and preach.”[12] The place of women in puritanism was at equal status with men, but in the Pietist movement the women were attached to the holy living. However, Luther and John Knox do not give much emphasis on women’s participation. Luther decreed: “Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear and bring up children.” He also taught: “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it”[13] John Knox declares that women should serve and obey man, and she should not rule over man.
The women in the age of Puritanism, Pietism and Evangelical Awakening involved mainly in the preaching, Sunday school, women empowerment and they helped the ministers in the church. Many men and women involved in the philanthropic work with the industrial laborers and poor people.
In the second Awakening women like Deborah Peirce of Paris and Martha Howell of Utica became prominent in the church ministry. Catherine Booth (1829-1890) was one of prominent women who with her husband, William Booth, founded the Christian Revival Association in 1865 and the Salvation Army in 1878. The Booths regarded the active participation of women to be vital to Christianity.
In the time of three great Evangelical Awakenings many men and women were challenged to become the active participants in the church and society. The great passion of evangelicals was evangelism, both at home and to the ends of the world. William Carey, ‘Father of Modern Missions’ challenged many people by his writing, Enquiry. The wives of the missionaries also went as missionaries. “The first single American woman to serve as a foreign missionary was Betsy Stockton, a black women and former slave, who went to Hawaii in 1823. Later, in the 1820s, Cynthya Farrar, of New Hampshire, sailed for Bombay where she served faithfully for thirty-four years under the Marathi Mission.”[14]
There were three reasons why women were attracted to the missionary work.
1. There were fewer opportunities for women to work in the home land, and the work was considered to be of the male. 2. The Christian mission looked as an outlet for adventure and excitement. The adventure was explicitly for men, so the women dared to take it. 3. The greatest influence on women missionaries was the growing sense of feminism.(see Hrangkhuma p355)
After the Second Great Awakening in the United States and in England many women’s church-related organizations were founded for charitable and religious works. Women were actively involved in the missionary work, teaching, medical and charitable work wherever they went as missionaries.

Reflection and Conclusion
The women in the Christian history have a special attention for their work and their dedication for mission of the Church. The Puritanism in New England attracted many women who had enjoyed the equality of power sharing. The women stood against the social and ecclesial injustice committed to the women and poor. The dehumanizing factors in the society made women to be attracted to the Puritanism. This was not same with the Pietism in the Germany where the male Pietist had a different understanding of women’s participation. The Pietists including Calvin, Knox and later Luther had little interest in the women involving in the mission of the church. However, the Evangelical Awakening in the west, especially in England, America, and Scotland attracted many women to become missionaries. They went as single missionaries, as missionary wife. Many women dared to venture into the adventure of the new explorations. These women mainly came to Asia and African countries accompanied by their missionary husbands and coworkers. They involved in the medical work, education, humanitarian work, evangelism, gardening and they concentrated upon the deprived women in the elite and poor families. There work was both spiritual and humanitarian. Thus the Evangelical Awakening in the west has contributed much for the women’s participation in the church ministry.

Cross F. L. eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Hrangkhuma, F. An Introduction to Church History. Bangalore: Theological Book Trust, 1996.

Philip, T. V. Edinburgh to Salvador: Twentieth Century ecumenical Missiology-A historical study of the Ecumenical Discussions on Mission. New Delhi: ISPCK, 1999.

Porterfield, Amanda. Women’s Attraction to Puritanism in Church History Vol.60, No. 2. America: The American Society of Church History, June 1991.

Snaitang, O.L. A History of Ecumenical Movement: An Introduction. Bangalore: BTESSE/SATHRI, 2004.

Stephen B. Bevans and Roger P. Schroeder. Constants in Context: A theology of Mission for Today. Bangalore: Chartian Publications, 2005.

http//, 11/07/2004, 11/07/2007

Presented To: Dr. M. N. Behra
Presented By: Mr. Babu. C. [BD IV]

[1] Amanda Porterfield, Women’s Attraction to Puritanism In Church History Vol.60, No. 2 (America: The American Society of Church History, June 1991), 196.
[2]Ibid., 197.
[3] Ibid.., 198.
[4] Ibid., 201.
[5] F. Hrangkhuma, An Introduction to Church History (Bangalore: Theological Book Trust, 1996), 308
[6] F. L. Cross eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 1286.
[7] Op cit. F Hrungkhuma, 309 .
[8] T. V. Philip, Edinburgh to Salvador: Twentieth Century ecumenical Missiology-A historical study of the Ecumenical Discussions on Mission (New Delhi: ISPCK, 1999), 2.
[9] O. L. Snaitang, A History of Ecumenical Movement: An Introduction (Bangalore: BTESSE/SATHRI, 2004), 51.
[10] Bevans B. Stephen and Roger P. Schroeder, Constants in Context: A theology of Mission for Today (Bangalore: Chartian Publications, 2005), 209.
[11] Ibid. 210
[12], 11/07/2007
[13] http//, 11/07/2007
[14] Op Cit., F. Hrangkhuma, p.355

No comments: