Page 8 - History of UB Church by A. Funkhouser Ver 1
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The Protestant Reformation began two centuries before the high tide of German emigration to
America. In Germany the reformers split at the very outset into two wings, the Lutheran and the
Reformed churches, the latter bearing much the same relation to the former as the Presbyterian
Church bears to the Church of England. The stronghold of the Reformed Church was in Switzerland
and the valley of the Rhine, whence it spread into France and Holland. In the remainder of
Germany, except where the Catholics retained their hold, Protestantism was represented almost
exclusively by the Lutherans. In each of the petty monarchies of Germany there was a state
church, and it was either Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. Not one of the three looked with any
favor on small sects that made no claims to being supported by the state.

Despite the general opinion to the contrary, the Reformation was to a great extent superficial. It
had to do with the intellect rather than the heart. Where the Catholics lost power, another formal
religion was set up in its place. Consequently the Reformation soon began to lose its original force
and at length stagnated.

But as before the Reformation, so it was afterward. There was still an apostolic element, and it
was no longer confined to the Moravians or the Mennonites.

Philip James Spener was an Alsatian and Lutheran and died in 1705. It is estimated that 40,000
persons were converted as a result of his extensive preaching. The "collegia pietatis" that he
established were Bible classes, prayer meetings, and class meetings, all in one. Spencer said he
brought religion from the head to the heart. He insisted that no one but a pious man had any
business in the pulpit. He also condemned all forms of questionable amusements. That the clergy,
as well as the laity, of the established churches were enraged at such obvious truths indicates a
very low degree of spirituality. Pietism, which was the name given to the teachings of Spener, was
the immediate application of Christian teaching to the heart as well as to the head. Spener and
Pietism were to Germany what Wesley and early Methodism were to England, and Wesley was
greatly influenced by his German forerunner.

Pietism, by whomsoever professed, was an emotional form of religion. But by the year 1800
emotionalism had died out in Germany, although it lived on in America, especially among the
Americans of German descent. It is also worthy of remark that Spener made no effort to establish
a new sect. All he sought was to infuse a more apostolic life into the established churches.

Philip William Otterbein, otherwise known simply as William Otterbein, was born June 3, 1726,1
at Dillenberg, a town of about 3,000 inhabitants in the valley of the Rhine. His father, a minister of
the German Reformed Church, was also principal of the Latin school in his home town. He died in
the prime of life, the oldest of his seven children being only eighteen years of age. The widow was
left with slender means, but like her husband she had character, piety, and learning. She had the
satisfaction of seeing all her six sons complete a collegiate course of study. As rapidly as the older
ones became qualified to teach, they assumed a leading share in the support of the household and
helped to educate the younger brothers. All the sons lived to a ripe age. Three of them became
authors. All of them, like their father, their father's father, and their own sister's husband, became
ministers. We are sometimes told that the sons of preachers are always bad. Occasionally they are
wayward, like some of the boys from other homes, and when this is the ease the fact is trumpeted
about. Far more usually they become men of substantial qualities.

Herborn Academy, the school in which the Otterbeins were educated, arose while the Protestant
Reformation was in full vigor, and it was under strong religious influences. It could almost be
classed as a university. In its theological department the tenets of Calvinism were less rigidly

1 0ld Style, and equivalent to June 15 at the present day. The change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar took place in
England in 1752. The former was then eleven days behind the correct time. In Germany the change to New Style had previously
taken place.

8 William Otterbein & German Reformed Church
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