Info

Get Paid To Write Online

Get Paid to Write at Home

Get Instant Access

Herrnhut in Germany. Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf had originally intended the Herrnhutters to be a group within the Lutheran Church that would encourage deeper religious sensibilities, but they came to be considered a separate body. Zinzendorf was banished from Germany for more than ten years and travelled to America and England to set up Moravian congregations. During this time Erdmuthe handled missionary work in Denmark and Livonia, established orphanages, and ran the home colony. Her dowry and family money provided most of the support for all Herrnhutter activities.

The most important outgrowth of Pietism in the English-speaking world was Methodism, a group in which women were also very active. Even during her son's Anglican ministry, John Wesley's mother Susanna had held unauthorized meetings with over 200 in attendance at which she read sermons and discussed religious issues. Both men and women in Methodism were encouraged to give public testimony of their conversion experiences and spiritual life and to 'exhort' others to faith and repentance. By the 1760s, Sarah Crosby (1729-1804) and Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1739-1815) had, with John Wesley's reluctant approval, gone from less formal 'exhorting' to being leaders of Methodist 'classes', weekly meetings at which members were to give an account of their actions and discipleship. Methodism was ridiculed for allowing female preaching, and often criticized in gendered language - as 'silly women' - because of women's active role and because the testimony of all followers seemed overly emotional and sentimental. After John Wesley's death in 1791, Methodists became increasingly hostile towards a female preaching ministry, and from 1803, women were restricted to addressing other women and then only under strict conditions. Some women continued to preach anyway, however, particularly in rural, frontier, and mission areas.

Several male Pietist and Methodist leaders developed less hierarchical ideas about gender than more traditional Protestant writers. Zinzendorf, for example, thought that Adam was androgynous before the fall and that men had to recover the feminine part of their souls in order to be saved. Moravians sang hymns to Jesus' penis and Mary's breasts and uterus, which Zinzen-dorf defended by asserting that shame about Jesus' or Mary's sexual organs was a denial of the full humanity of Christ. For many Pietists, Christ was also androgynous; male, yes, but a virgin, so that he was not fully a man. The Pietist emphasis on devotion rather than doctrine also led some writers (including Johanna Eleonora Petersen as well as male writers) to view women as the clearest embodiment of proper piety.

This championing of female or androgynous qualities in theory did not lead to permanent female church leadership in practice, however. As we have seen,

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment