The amazing Blumhardts

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steve
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The amazing Blumhardts

Post by steve » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:31 pm

Hi All,

Please bear with this brief introduction of the book, The Awakening, by Friedrich Zuendel. I guarantee that you will thank me for this! At the end of this post you will find that you can read the book for free.

The Awakening is an attempt to document a wonderful season of revival that took place in Germany, in the 1840s and afterward, largely through the ministries of Johann and Christoph Blumhard (father and son). It may be that the names of these men are not familiar to you, since they are not widely known among Christians in the English-speaking world. However, they were both important pastor/theologians whose preaching and praying had a profound impact in Europe—especially in their native Germany—in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

In later generations, their theological vision had profound influence upon much more well-known German-speaking theologians, such as Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, who estimated the significance of the Blumhardts as being comparable to that of Soren Kierkegaard. Others who were influenced by, and confessed admiration for the Blumhards, included Oscar Cullmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the French theologian/philosopher, Jacques Ellul.

Though some of these names may be associated with neo-orthodox, or what we might regard as somewhat “liberal” movements today, the Blumhardts themselves were thoroughly evangelical, with a strong adherence to the complete authority of the Bible, and a belief in (and demonstration of) the supernatural working of God through the name of Jesus. The Blumhardts became popular among some European theologians of what might be called a “more-liberal” stripe because of their interest in the social implications of the gospel. However, their obsession was that the Kingdom of God might be advanced through the exaltation of Jesus Christ.

The two Blumhardts are generally viewed and discussed as a unit, since the son seemed to have received the mantle of his father at the latter’s death-bed, and continued to think, preach and minister as his father had done before him. The ministries of Johann and Christoph are commonly treated as one ministry in two parts, the latter simply being the continuation of the former.

The elder Blumhardt, pastor of a small Lutheran congregation, had involuntarily become a sensation throughout Europe due to a famous exorcism, which he reluctantly conducted upon a parishioner. This was followed by a great revival of widespread and thoroughgoing repentance throughout the region where he served. The revival was also characterized by such a large number of miraculous healings of physical ailments that Pastor Blumhardt was asked by his Lutheran denomination to refrain from praying for the sick, because the physicians of the region complained that their practices were being hurt by the dearth of patients coming to them. The son, Christoph Blumhardt, afterward also had great success in seeing people healed of sickness through his much more widespread public ministry, but he eventually withdrew from the public eye to a more secluded ministry, because of his concern that people were coming to his preaching, not because they had a genuine thirst for God and His Kingdom, but because they simply wanted to be miraculously healed. He was greatly disappointed by this attitude.

It should be noted, though, that Johann and Christoph Blumhardt were no Pentecostal or charismatic-type healing evangelists. They often bemoaned the lack of the Spirit’s power in the church of their day, but they were very reticent to speak of the miracles that accompanied their own preaching. The father Blumhardt was modest, Bible-focused Lutheran pastor, serving a small, financially-depressed, out-of-the-way parish. He had no intention of becoming internationally famous. Throughout his career, Johann Blumhard remained a refreshingly humble man (as did his son after him), refusing to allow anyone to give him credit for the miracles that Jesus was working through him and around him. He did all he could to downplay, and even to conceal, these phenomena, as they were controversial in his denomination, and he had in no sense sought them.

The book, The Awakening, is a study of the revival that took place through the elder Blumhardt (Christoph was just born when the revival began). The book is in three parts, dealing, first of all, with the remarkable case of exorcism; then with the revival that followed; and, finally, with the healings that surprisingly took place. Pastor Blumhardt in no way expected any of these occurrences in advance, but was such a genuinely spiritual and biblical man that he took them in stride and sought to be guided by nothing but the scriptures in his conduct. The story is an astonishing one, and one filled with lessons for the modern church—especially for those among us who crave revival in our day.

I first heard of Johann Blumhardt in the early 1980s, when an anonymous correspondent sent me a copy of the small book, Blumhardt’s Battle, containing a detailed description of the exorcism in the pastor’s own words. Though I had been a student of historical exorcisms previous to receiving this book about an unknown man of a previous century, it was plain, upon reading this book, that this was no ordinary case of demon possession. I was shocked by some of the gruesome manifestations of demonic malice described in the book, and it should not be read by the faint-hearted or the spiritually cowardly. Blumhardt himself did not desire for the book to be published and distributed to the general public. I, for one, am extremely grateful that his wishes were not honored in this matter.

I was powerfully impacted by Blumhardt's Battle in the 1980s. Decades later, I was delighted to find that this story had been summarized in the first third of a new book, The Awakening. Though the new book omits some of the more repulsive phenomena that took place, it yet retains enough to awaken the reader to the astonishing reality of the warfare in which we are engaged. This book is not sensationalistic, and moves seamlessly from the account of the exorcism to the entirely uplifting season of refreshing and revival that followed. I cannot recommend highly enough the reading of this book for anyone who desires to see the glory of God displayed through the obedience of humble instruments in modern times.

I have just learned that the publishers of The Awakening have generously provided the whole book for free download in PDF format. In addition, they have made available a large number of other excellent books which they publish, including some by Christoph Blumhardt. They also have a great book of the writings of Sundar Singh, a personal hero of mine (entitled: The Wisdom of the Sadhu). I had read some of these books in hard copy (and had previously purchased some of them in quantities for free distribution), and they are still available for sale in such form. However, they are all also available for download for no charge. I am impressed by the magnanimity of Plough Publishing for taking this generous step.

This company is the publishing arm of the Anabaptist community originally known as the Bruderhof, but now as the Hutterian Society of Brothers. Some of the books are about or by the founder of the community, Eberhard Arnold, and other Arnolds (his sons). The daughter of Christoph Blumhard was apparently a part of this community, and they are almost the sole custodians of the written works of the Blumhardts in America (they do not publish Blumhardt's Battle but I believe it is still available for a very low price from Thomas E. Lowe, LTD, New York).

If you would like to download The Awakening, or other of these wonderful books, you may do so at: http://www.plough.com/ebooks.html

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Suzana
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by Suzana » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:37 pm

Thank you for posting this information. I heard you mention this incident in an archived radio show maybe a year ago, and found an [edited] version of “Blumhardt's Battle” online (http://o4u2cm.blogspot.com/2005/05/blum ... attle.html), which I read at the time.
It certainly was extremely full on.
It will be very interesting to read about the revival which followed that amazing incident & of the spiritual harvest beyond the personal deliverance of the young lady.

The revival was also characterized by such a large number of miraculous healings of physical ailments that Pastor Blumhardt was asked by his Lutheran denomination to refrain from praying for the sick, because the physicians of the region complained that their practices were being hurt by the dearth of patients coming to them.
How amazing and sad.
...he eventually withdrew from the public eye to a more secluded ministry, because of his concern that people were coming to his preaching, not because they had a genuine thirst for God and His Kingdom, but because they simply wanted to be miraculously healed. He was greatly disappointed by this attitude.
On reading the above I thought “welcome to the human race”. Sad, but not entirely unexpected while involving natural, carnal fallen humanity.

I'm looking forward to reading the Awakening, and also exploring the other books listed - what a treasure-trove! 8-)
Suzana
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If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere. - Henry Ward Beecher

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christopher
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by christopher » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:42 pm

I can echo your sentiments here Steve.

I found this .pdf book a few years ago when I googled Blumhardt after listening to (and then teaching on) your spiritual warfare series. It was a very amazing story and I brought a copy in to the prison inmates that I was teaching at the time. They too were pretty excited and blessed to read it.

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Douglas
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by Douglas » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:33 am

Thanks for posting this Steve. I am almost done reading this and I was amazed. This is a very edifying account to read.

Doug

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darinhouston
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by darinhouston » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:19 pm

Is anyone familiar with their teaching on raising children?

It seems very permissive, and is contrary to most modern Christian counsel I've received. It resonates in my spirit, but I'm not sure how practical it is (yikes, there I go again).

For example, he discusses the need to be good stewards with furniture and the like, but that our stewardship over the spirits of our children and relative value over their wellbeing is greater than the "stuff" in our houses. What he sees as healthy rambunctious behavior would be seen as wild and out of control hooligans in most circles today, and we'd be seen as neglectful, permissive parents who fail to control the households (I'm not afraid of what others would think, but I don't want to damage my kids either way). He also criticizes those who would seek their young children to ask for forgiveness when they've been "naughty" because it just makes them feel dirty and they don't understand yet, etc....

I'd love some input on this....

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steve
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by steve » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:51 pm

I read the Blumhardts' "Thoughts About Children" some years ago, and remember having similar questions about it (though I don't remember particulars). I have to say that my teaching about children was often pretty close to that of people like Michael and Debi Pearl, though my practice (because of my temperament) tended to be more like that of the Blumhardts. After my children were older, I discovered a great book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart," by Tedd Tripp, which resonated with my concepts of balance. I also really enjoyed and highly-regard an old book called "Hints on Child Training," by H. Clay Trumbull (who, I think, was the grandfather of Elisabeth Elliott).

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selah
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by selah » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:59 am

Suzana wrote:
The revival was also characterized by such a large number of miraculous healings of physical ailments that Pastor Blumhardt was asked by his Lutheran denomination to refrain from praying for the sick, because the physicians of the region complained that their practices were being hurt by the dearth of patients coming to them.
How amazing and sad.
...he eventually withdrew from the public eye to a more secluded ministry, because of his concern that people were coming to his preaching, not because they had a genuine thirst for God and His Kingdom, but because they simply wanted to be miraculously healed. He was greatly disappointed by this attitude.
On reading the above I thought “welcome to the human race”. Sad, but not entirely unexpected while involving natural, carnal fallen humanity.

I'm looking forward to reading the Awakening, and also exploring the other books listed - what a treasure-trove! 8-)
Hi Suzana,

This reminds me of another thread I've been on about charisma. Your comments here (and Steve's) exemplify for me one of the sad parts of ministries where miracles and charismatic experiences take place. People get attracted to the gift (in this case, healing) and not the giver (Jesus).

This is actually really good for me tonight. I'm going in for a health procedure tomorrow and rather than me focussing my prayers on the desired healing, I read this now to encourage my focus to be on the One Who Heals.

Thanks, and I can't wait to read the books mentioned on this thread. I might even buy one or two of those childraising books because my daughter is having her first baby :!: :!: :!: in three weeks. :lol:

Let me know what you think of The Awakening, okay?

Selah 8-)
Jesus said, "I in them and you in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:23

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darinhouston
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by darinhouston » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:53 am

Thanks for the recommendations, Steve. I note that Ted Tripp did a conference on that subject at Acts29 Mars Hill, and the video (and audio) are available for viewing online (video) or download (audio) elsewhere. I look forward to listening to that. Since some of Trumbull's works are available, and this book seems to be still in print I am surprised I can't find the Trumbull book online as an ebook or pdf (it seems when I find time and energy to read these days, I don't have physical books with me, so e-books tend to work well).

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Douglas
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by Douglas » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:41 am

I finished reading the Awakening last night, and wow! I cannot express in words well enough how much this has impacted me. I thank God for such examples for us to learn from. I highly recommend this to those who love God and want to read about victory. "Jesus is the Victor!" Amen.

Doug

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Jason
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Re: The amazing Blumhardts

Post by Jason » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:30 pm

I read the first 50 pages of The Awakening last night and it really threw me for a loop. Not only is the account of the two year battle sobering, to say the least, but Blumhardt's insight on demons (which, I assume, he gained from the experience) was startling. I will say that Blumhardt's account of the events rings authentic for me (especially since he was consistenly surprised himself) and has thrown a monkey wrench into my theology! I also can't think of any bible verses that would contradict his findings.

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