Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought

Pietism. Enlightenment. Autonomy. Heteronomy. Locke. Deism. Modern Development. Final Remarks.

This is my last lecture today. I will continue in the discussion of the main movements and tides, as I have called it – high and low – from the Reformation period to the present. I emphasized the importance of the Orthodox period and gave you some statements about the necessity for every Protestant theologian to study the classical period of Protestant theology, namely the Orthodox period.

Then I spoke about the protest of the subjective piety, personal, inner piety, against the objectivism of the Orthodox doctrines. And in discussing Pietism, not in a derogatory sense but in a highly appreciative sense, as a breaking through of an element which was in the early Luther but got lost in the Orthodox development, I said that there are especially three problems with which they dealt, and which changed reality: theology, where they emphasized the existential point of view: you must participate in order to be a theologian; the Church, in which they re- emphasized Luther’s principle of the priestly function of everybody, and established the small churches within the large Church.

The third point I want to make now is their influence on the morals in the Protestant world. The situation in the time in which they arose, at the end of the 17th century, was morally disastrous in Continental Europe. Everything was dissolved and in chaotic stages, through the Thirty Years’ War, and the following attacks from outside. It was an extremely rough, brutal, unrefined, uneducated form of life. Against this, against which the Orthodox theologians didn’t do very much, and didn’t even try to do very much, the Pietists tried to collect individual Christians who took upon themselves the burden and the liberation of the Christian life.