'Awakening movement' in early nineteenth-century Germany: the making of a modern and orthodox Protestantism
Kloes, Andrew Alan
This thesis examines the ‘Awakening movement’ (Erweckungsbewegung) in German Protestantism during the Vormärz period (1815-48) in German history. Many historians have noted that the Awakening was the last nationwide Protestant reform and revival movement to occur in Germany. This thesis interprets the Awakening movement as a product of the larger social changes that were re-shaping German society during the Vormärz period. Theologically, Awakened Protestants were traditionalists. They affirmed religious doctrines that orthodox Protestants had professed since the confessional statements of the Reformation-era. However, Awakened Protestants were also distinctly modern. Their efforts to spread their religious beliefs were successful because of the new political freedoms and economic opportunities that emerged in the early nineteenth century. These social conditions gave members of the emerging German middle class new means and abilities to pursue their religious goals. Awakened Protestants started many academic and popular publications, voluntary societies, and institutions for social reform. Adapting Protestantism to modern society in these ways was the most original and innovative aspect of the Awakening movement. After an introductory chapter, this study proceeds to discuss Awakened Protestants’ religious identity in relation to the history of the German Protestant tradition. Chapter one examines the historical development of the conception of religious ‘awakening’ within German Protestant thought from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Chapter two then analyses how the Awakening movement was animated by a particular set of objections to the eighteenth-century religious Enlightenment and to the Christianity of those who called themselves Protestant ‘rationalists’. Chapters three through six consider how the Awakening movement developed within four distinct areas of Protestant religious life: preaching, academic theology, organised evangelism, and pastoral initiatives. The thesis concludes that the Awakening movement represented the realisation of certain long-term reform goals that Martin Luther had defined in the 1520s. It was a type of Protestantism, whose appearance had previously been inhibited by the limitations of the social, political, and economic conditions of the early modern period. This thesis is the first substantial analysis of the Awakening written in English.