Reading Horton on pietism and the Eucharist

I am learning more and more about pietism. The subject came up while I was introducing myself to covenant theology by reading, well, Michael Horton's Introducing Covenant Theology.

Horton touches upon the issue of pietism while discussing sacraments as forms of "ratification" of the New Covenant. Horton reviews the Old Testament habit of ratifying treaties by having a meal -- a tradition replicated in Passover and later reworked into the Lord's Supper. He argues that the Lord's Supper is a covenant meal: "while it is first of all a ratification of God's pledge to us, it also ratifies our pledge to God and to each other" (159).

The problem with the pietistic version of the Lord's Supper, Horton argues, is that

in its obsession with the individual's inner piety, it loses much of the import of the feast as a sacred meal that actually binds us to Christ and to each other. Instead of viewing it first as God's saving action towards us and then as our fellowship with each other in Christ, we come to see it as just another opportunity to be threatened with the law. (160.)

This echoes the criticism of pietism touched on by the more political theologians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see e.g. the afterword to Life Together, 139-40).

The parallel here is of course that laestadianism is a form of Christian pietism, or at least heavily influenced by it. Sacraments can be used politically -- as instruments or events of both inclusion and exclusion -- and now I am interested in how this plays out in churches within the movement? Is the Eucharist an act of reaching out and becoming one with the neighbour? Or is it that of reading them the law?



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