Pietism, the Brethren Movement, and the Globalization of Evangelical Christian Practice

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Jean DeBernardi University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Canada

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This paper explores the influence of Pietism on the radical evangelical Christian movement known as the Open Brethren movement. In the 1830s, Anthony Norris Groves (1795–1853) met with German Lutheran missionary Karl Rhenius in India and praised his methods, which included support for indigenous Christian leaders and the independent churches that they led. Karl Gützlaff promoted similar methods in China and influenced wealthy London Brethren to found the China Evangelization Society (CES) in 1850. The CES founders also took the Moravians as a model, noting that a single congregation had launched a global missionary movement that had perpetuated itself from generation to generation. Although they had no formal relationship with the Moravian United Brethren, the Open Brethren knew of their work and that of Pietist institutions like the Francke Foundations both through personal contacts and publications. This paper utilizes the concept of “ensampling” to analyze the ways that Open Brethren founders modeled their work on practices that Pietist missionaries and philanthropists had developed in the long eighteenth century.

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