Pietism and populism cannot go hand in hand, says German pastor

18-02-2022

Central Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Photo AFP, Robert Michael

Christian pietism is essentially different from populism. That is the opinion of pastor Steffen Kern, president of the Evangelical Gnadauer community in the German Protestant Church.

Christian pietism is essentially different from populism. That is the opinion of pastor Steffen Kern, president of the Evangelical Gnadauer community in the German Protestant Church.

The pastor believes that most German Christians are "level-headed, cautious and responsible." However, he estimates that a minority of the Evangelical movement in Germany is susceptible to populist politicisation.

Kern warns against that "right-wing populist alienated Christianity”. He describes right-wing populism in a report to the general meeting of the Pietist umbrella organisation as a conviction that "the majority of society is misguided." According to Kern, representatives of such populism see society as suspicious and evil, Pressedienst IDEA reports. Populists are sceptical about institutions, such as political parties, science, the media and churches. Kern argues that for these populists, Christianity does not create their identity, but common enemies, such as Islam, Liberals and Socialists.

In many countries, there is debate about relation between Evangelical Christians and populists, since they sometimes share the critical position towards the modern culture. Also during the Covid-period, Pietists were much more critical towards vaccination than other groups in society. That was the impression of the former leader of the Gnadauer movement, Michael Diener.

Also in Scandinavian countries, the impression is that most of the Corona sceptics concentrated in the independent churches, as was reported by CNE.news earlier.

However, pastor Kern asserts that Christians should have a pro-stance and "seek the best of the city" (Jeremiah 29:7). He is concerned that populist influences result in individualism and alienate the belief in Christ. "Populist influences instrumentalise Christianity ideologically, and use it for socio-political purposes."

Vaccination status is not a confession status

The pastor was reluctant to comment on vaccination against Covid-19, a controversial issue that is also popular under populists. Even though he promotes winning over as many people as possible for vaccination, he still places some question marks at mandatory vaccination for all. Kern called vaccination debaters to "defuse emotionally." He finds the zeal of some strange: "Vaccination status is not a confession status."

Instead of the pessimistic populist view, Kern writes in his report that Christians are a movement of hope. "We don't have to save the world. That relieves and liberates." According to Kern, Christians should trust that God holds the world and all events in his hands. "We believe in a living God, Who acts in the past and the present. He is the reason for our hope."

Chain

Newsletter

Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.