When I hear the word piety I immediately conjure an image of a self-righteous religious pharisee type, praying long-winded prayers, fasting with hunger pangs etched on his face, looking down his nose at the unclean mass of humanity who are not worthy to look up and behold his blinding glory.
A pious person in the world today denotes a religious hypocrite, a sanctimonious spirit, concerned more for dotting his I’s and crossing his T’s rather than walking in love, mercy and compassion toward others. So, if someone ever calls you a pious churchgoer, don’t say ‘thank you’. You’ve just been backhanded!
This caricature has been manufactured by a contemporary evangelicalism that disdains ‘dead orthodoxy’ and ‘dry doctrine’. It is not an accurate depiction of true piety. It actually once had a very positive, biblical definition. Piety meant a deep reverence for God and a sacred obligation to religious duties. Piousness parallels holiness. But there have been some in church history who have taken true piety to unhealthy extremes, creating a man-made system of sanctification outside of God’s ordinary means of grace.
Pastor Bob DeWaay of Twin Cities Fellowship in Minneapolis has written a superb and eye opening article on a heretical movement that has infected the church for centuries. It has taken on various forms and has been called by many different names, but at its core is called ‘pietism’. It is not the same as practicing true piety, but bases its belief off of it.
I’ll let Pastor DeWaay define the term: Continue reading