« Preger, Johann Wilhelm Pregizerians Prelate »


PREGIZERIANS: A German religious sect taking its name from Christian Gottlob Pregizer (b. at Stuttgart Mar. 18, 1751; d. at Haiterbach, 30 m. s.w. of Stuttgart, Oct. 30, 1824). At first rigidly ascetic, he became known as a powerful revivalist while preacher in the Schlosskirche in Tübingen. In his first pastorate at Grafenberg (1783–95) he seems to have been under the influence of theosophical pietism and was coolly received by his congregation. When, however, he became pastor at Haiterbach in 1795, he inaugurated a profound movement among the congregations of the vicinity. Conventicles arose here and there, several of them under his own leadership. After 1801 he became associated with the so-called "Blessed Ones" who arose in the last decade of the eighteenth century in the valley of the Rems and the Schwarzwald, and who, rejecting the new hymnal of 1791, sang the old hymns to merry popular tunes with appropriate instrumental music. In opposition both to the moralism of the Enlightenment (q.v.) and to the doctrine of sanctification taught by Johann Michael Hahn (q.v.), they laid an exaggerated stress on justification by faith. The excesses of his followers caused Pregizer to be summoned before the consistory in 1808, but although his somewhat ambiguous explanations were not wholly satisfactory, no ground could be found for proceeding against him. His conduct and mode of life were blameless; he did not teach the sinlessness of those who had found grace; and he so strenuously opposed the anti-ecclesiastical and antinomian tendencies of his followers that the extremists among them turned away from him.

The sect expanded after Pregizer's death, but there was a distinct lack of leaders. The moral excesses of the Pregizerians became so great that police interference was necessary. Gradually, however, 199a small body of nobler type broke off from the main sect, rejected all vagaries, and evolved views on justification and baptism along the lines marked out by Luther. The cardinal tenet of Pregizerianism centers in justification, which occurs once and for all in each individual, and which is essentially connected with baptism. The Christian must ever be joyful because of the grace which he has experienced, and the Pregizerians were, accordingly, often called "Hurrah Christians" (Juchhe-Christen), or, because of their belief in ictic conversion, "Galloping Christians" (Galopp-Christen). They also taught that there is no sin and that confession and penance are unnecessary; they disregarded the Sabbath and manifested other antinomian tendencies; and they practically rejected the Lutheran Church. They were chiliasts and restorationists, but refused to take any part in either foreign or domestic missions. The only official source for a knowledge of the doctrines of the sect is the Sammlung geistlicher Lieder zum Gebrauch für gläubige Kinder Gottes, to which is appended Pregizer's confession of faith.

There are still about eighty Pregizerian communities in Württemberg and Baden, though their number is steadily diminishing. Extravagances have been abandoned, but they retain their joyous characteristics. They are marked by Lutheran piety and use Luther's writings along with the Bible. They are for the most part faithful to the Lutheran Church, and are united by a conference held thrice annually at various places in Württemberg.

(C. Kolb.)

Bibliography: Grüneisen, in ZHT, 1841; C. Palmer, Die Gemeinschaften and Sekten Württembergs, Tübingen, 1877; C. Dietrich and F. Brookes, Die Privet-Erbauungsgemeinschaften innerhalb der evangelischen Kirche Deutschlands, Stuttgart, 1903.

« Preger, Johann Wilhelm Pregizerians Prelate »
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