« Aviz, Order of Awakening Awakening, The Great »

Awakening

AWAKENING: A term which in recent times has occasionally been mentioned in Protestant dogmatics as a member of the ordo salutis (see Order of Salvation). Elsewhere the term is used, especially in the language of the Pietists and Methodists, to designate the great commotion produced in the heart, especially by preaching. To this usage corresponds also the popular conception which understands by the term ” awakening” specifically the stirring of strong religious feelings, such as at times accompany the beginning of the Christian estate. In this sense books or sermons are characterized as ” awakening,” and periods of history in which there is a rapid change of religious feeling are called ” times of awakening.”

So far as the Biblical basis for the conception is concerned, the sources are quite meager. Only Rom. xiii, 11 and Eph. v, 14 come into consideration. In both passages the act of awakening is placed in close connection with the light or illumination. He who is brought into the sphere of the light, does not continue to sleep, but awakes out of his sleep and then by the awaking is illuminated by the light. If the work of grace be considered as an enlightenment, then its first effect in man is that of awaking. According to the Biblical usage, therefore, we are to think neither of a special divine act of ” awaking” nor of a condition, having temporal duration, of ” awaking” or ” becoming awake.” There are, however, some recent dogmaticians who take these positions (e.g., C. I. Nitzsch, System der christlichen Lehre, Bonn, 1851, pp. 298, 304-305; L. A. Dorner, Glaubenslehre, vol. ii, part 2, Berlin, 1881, 725-728; F. Reiff , Christliche Glaubenslehre, ii, Basel, 1873, 349; F. Nitzsch, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, Freiburg, 1892, p. 593). Calling (q.v.) is then divided into illumination (q.v.), which aims to give a knowledge of salvation, and awakening, which directs the will to the salvation. Others, on the contrary, emphasize more the subjective condition of the awakening. It is the introduction to regeneration; the awakened is ” mightily moved by grace” ; it is a ” condition of religious suffering,” for as yet there is no self-determination (Martensen, Die christliche Dogmatik, Berlin, 1870, pp. 361-362); it is ” a moment in which the soul is more profoundly seized by grace,” ” the birth throes of the new man,” where ” there is still too much being built upon feeling and sensibility” (Thomasius, Lehre von Christi Person und Werk, ii, Leipsic, 1888, 377, 384; cf. Luthardt, Kompendium der Dogmatik, Leipsic, 1893, p. 264; Wacker, Die Heilsordnung, Gütersloh, 1898, pp. 33, 34). Of special interest is the representation of ” awakening” given by the dogmatician of German Methodism, A. Sulzberger (cf. Die christliche Glaubenslehre, ii, Bremen, 1876, 368 sqq.). But in spite of these and other efforts to give the term ” awakening” a place in dogmatics, the necessity of the conception can not be maintained. Objectively, it adds nothing to ” calling,” and, subjectively, it has no specific connotation as against the first beginnings of faith and ” conversion” in the old dogmatics. Here as in general, the undue subdividing of the ordo salutis is to be opposed.

R. Seeberg.

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