Nicolaus von Zinzendorf: Views on God, Church, and Mankind as Motivation for Missionary Efforts

Nicolaus von Zinzendorf’s view of God and man shaped his missionary heart, which led to the formation of a church of refugees, the Moravian Revival, and the first extensive, denominational mission movement following the Reformation. His writings on the Gemeine, the universal and local church, indicates that all mankind was created to live in this fellowship. Zinzendorf identified the creation of mankind as the first earthly model of the Gottess-Kirche (Church of God). However, through the sin of man, this institution failed, leading God to act again. The incarnation of Christ brought a heavenly model of Gemeine for mankind to see on earth. The cross is where the earthly model of Gemeine was actualized. According to Moravian theology, Christians and the true Church were birthed from the side-wound of Christ. Gemeine was marked by recognizing God as Father, the Holy Spirit as Mother, and Christ as Son and Groom. Zinzendorf’s role designations within the Trinity brings forth controversial issues concerning gender and man’s response to God. For instance, Zinzendorf taught that all believers have female gendered souls because the Church is the bride of Christ. Lastly, the Gemeine is identified by mission. The call to Christians and the true Church is to go wherever Christ leads, participating in God’s activity of evangelism along the way. This paper will focus on the Moravian understanding of God, Church, and mankind, and how these thoughts motivated their missionary efforts.

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