Pietism (/ˈpaɪ.ɪtɪsm/) is a movement within Lutheranism that combines its emphasis on biblical doctrine with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life.

Although the movement initially was active exclusively within Lutheranism, it had a tremendous impact on Protestantism worldwide, particularly in North America and Europe. Pietism originated in modern Germany in the late 17th century with the work of Philipp Spener, a Lutheran theologian whose emphasis on personal transformation through spiritual rebirth and renewal, individual devotion, and piety laid the foundations for the movement. Although Spener did not directly advocate the quietistic, legalistic, and semi-separatist practices of Pietism, they were more or less involved in the positions he assumed or the practices which he encouraged.

Pietism spread from Germany to Switzerland and the rest of German-speaking Europe, to Scandinavia and the Baltics (where it was heavily influential, leaving a permanent mark on the region's dominant Lutheranism, with figures like Hans Nielsen Hauge in Norway, Peter Spaak and Carl Olof Rosenius in Sweden, Katarina Asplund in Finland, and Barbara von Krüdener in the Baltics), and to the rest of Europe. It was further taken to North America, primarily by German and Scandinavian immigrants. There, it influenced Protestants of other ethnic backgrounds, contributing to the 18th-century foundation of evangelicalism, a movement within Protestantism that today has some 300 million followers.

In the middle of the 19th century, Lars Levi Laestadius spearheaded a Pietist revival in Scandinavia that upheld what came to be known as Laestadian Lutheran theology, which is heralded today by the Laestadian Lutheran Church as well as by several congregations within other mainstream Lutheran Churches, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.[1][2]

Although Pietism declined from its zenith, some of its theological tenets influenced Protestantism generally, inspiring the Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement and Alexander Mack to begin the Anabaptist Brethren movement. Though Pietism shares an emphasis on personal behavior with the Puritan movement, and the two are often confused, there are important differences, particularly in the concept of the role of religion in government.[3]


Pietistic Lutherans meet together in conventicles, "apart from Divine Service in order to mutually encourage piety".[4] They believe "that any true Christian could point back in his or her life to an inner struggle with sin that culminated in a crisis and ultimately a decision to start a new, Christ-centered life."[4] Pietistic Lutherans emphasize following "biblical divine commands of believers to live a holy life and to strive for holy living, or sanctification".[5]

By country


The "Five Brothers of Württemberg Pietism: Johannes Schnaitmann, (1767-1847), Anton Egeler, (1770-1850), Johann Martin Schäffer, (1763-1851), Immanuel Gottlieb Kolb (1784-1859), and Johann Michael Hahn (1758-1819).

Pietism did not die out in the 18th century, but was alive and active in the Evangelischer Kirchenverein des Westens (later German Evangelical Church and still later the Evangelical and Reformed Church.) The church president from 1901 to 1914 was a pietist named Jakob Pister.[6] Some vestiges of Pietism were still present in 1957 at the time of the formation of the United Church of Christ. In the 21st century Pietism is still alive in groups inside the Evangelical Church in Germany. These groups are called Landeskirchliche Gemeinschaften and emerged in the second half of the 19th century in the so-called Gemeinschaftsbewegung.

However, in the 19th century, there was a revival of confessional Lutheran doctrine, known as the neo-Lutheran movement. This movement focused on a reassertion of the identity of Lutherans as a distinct group within the broader community of Christians, with a renewed focus on the Lutheran Confessions as a key source of Lutheran doctrine. Associated with these changes was a renewed focus on traditional doctrine and liturgy, which paralleled the growth of Anglo-Catholicism in England.[7]

Some writers on the history of Pietism – e.g. Heppe and Ritschl – have included under it nearly all religious tendencies amongst Protestants of the last three centuries in the direction of a more serious cultivation of personal piety than that prevalent in the various established churches. Ritschl, too, treats Pietism as a retrograde movement of Christian life towards Catholicism. Some historians also speak of a later or modern Pietism, characterizing thereby a party in the German Church probably influenced by remains of Spener's Pietism in Westphalia, on the Rhine, in Württemberg, Halle, and Berlin.

The party was chiefly distinguished by its opposition to an independent scientific study of theology, its principal theological leader being Hengstenberg and its chief literary organ, the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung.

Pietism also had a strong influence on contemporary artistic culture in Germany; though unread today, the Pietist Johann Georg Hamann held a strong influence in his day. Pietist belief in the power of individual meditation on the divine – a direct, individual approach to the ultimate spiritual reality of God – was probably partly responsible for the uniquely metaphysical, idealistic nature of German Romantic philosophy.


Pietistic Lutheran frugality, humility, restraint, sense of duty and order have been strong cultural and religious influences in Scandinavia.

In Denmark, Pietistic Lutheranism became popular in 1703.[8] There, the faithful organized into conventicles for that "met for prayer and Bible reading".[8]

Pietistic Lutheranism entered Sweden in the 1600s after the writings of Johann Arndt, Philipp Jakob Spener, and August Hermann Francke became popular.[9] Pietistic Lutheranism gained patronage under Archbishop Erik Benzelius, who encouraged the Pietistic Lutheran practices.[9]

Laestadian Lutheranism, a form of Pietistic Lutheranism, continues to flourish in Scandinavia, where Church of Sweden priest Lars Levi Laestadius spearheaded the revival in the 19th century.[1]



As the forerunners of the Pietists in the strict sense, certain voices had been heard bewailing the shortcomings of the church and advocating a revival of practical and devout Christianity. Amongst them were the Christian mystic Jakob Böhme (Behmen); Johann Arndt, whose work, True Christianity, became widely known and appreciated; Heinrich Müller, who described the font, the pulpit, the confessional, and the altar as "the four dumb idols of the Lutheran Church"; the theologian Johann Valentin Andrea, court chaplain of the Landgrave of Hesse; Schuppius, who sought to restore the Bible to its place in the pulpit; and Theophilus Grossgebauer (d. 1661) of Rostock, who from his pulpit and by his writings raised what he called "the alarm cry of a watchman in Sion".


The direct originator of the movement was Philipp Spener. Born at Rappoltsweiler in Alsace, now in France, on 13 January 1635, trained by a devout godmother who used books of devotion like Arndt's True Christianity, Spener was convinced of the necessity of a moral and religious reformation within German Lutheranism. He studied theology at Strasbourg, where the professors at the time (and especially Sebastian Schmidt) were more inclined to "practical" Christianity than to theological disputation. He afterwards spent a year in Geneva, and was powerfully influenced by the strict moral life and rigid ecclesiastical discipline prevalent there, and also by the preaching and the piety of the Waldensian professor Antoine Leger and the converted Jesuit preacher Jean de Labadie.

Philipp Jakob Spener
Philipp Spener (1635–1705), the "Father of Pietism", is considered the founder of the movement.

During a stay in Tübingen, Spener read Grossgebauer's Alarm Cry, and in 1666 he entered upon his first pastoral charge at Frankfurt with a profound opinion that the Christian life within Evangelical Lutheranism was being sacrificed to zeal for rigid Lutheran orthodoxy. Pietism, as a distinct movement in the German Church, began with religious meetings at Spener's house (collegia pietatis) where he repeated his sermons, expounded passages of the New Testament, and induced those present to join in conversation on religious questions. In 1675, Spener published his Pia desideria or Earnest Desire for a Reform of the True Evangelical Church, the title giving rise to the term "Pietists". This was originally a pejorative term given to the adherents of the movement by its enemies as a form of ridicule, like that of "Methodists" somewhat later in England.

In Pia desideria, Spener made six proposals as the best means of restoring the life of the church:

  1. The earnest and thorough study of the Bible in private meetings, ecclesiolae in ecclesia ("little churches within the church")
  2. The Christian priesthood being universal, the laity should share in the spiritual government of the church
  3. A knowledge of Christianity must be attended by the practice of it as its indispensable sign and supplement
  4. Instead of merely didactic, and often bitter, attacks on the heterodox and unbelievers, a sympathetic and kindly treatment of them
  5. A reorganization of the theological training of the universities, giving more prominence to the devotional life
  6. A different style of preaching, namely, in the place of pleasing rhetoric, the implanting of Christianity in the inner or new man, the soul of which is faith, and its effects the fruits of life

This work produced a great impression throughout Germany. While large numbers of orthodox Lutheran theologians and pastors were deeply offended by Spener's book, many other pastors immediately adopted Spener's proposals.

Early leaders

In 1686 Spener accepted an appointment to the court-chaplaincy at Dresden, which opened to him a wider though more difficult sphere of labor. In Leipzig, a society of young theologians was formed under his influence for the learned study and devout application of the Bible. Three magistrates belonging to that society, one of whom was August Hermann Francke, subsequently the founder of the famous orphanage at Halle (1695), commenced courses of expository lectures on the Scriptures of a practical and devotional character, and in the German language, which were zealously frequented by both students and townsmen. The lectures, however, aroused the ill-will of the other theologians and pastors of Leipzig, and Francke and his friends left the city, and with the aid of Christian Thomasius and Spener founded the new University of Halle. The theological chairs in the new university were filled in complete conformity with Spener's proposals. The main difference between the new Pietistic Lutheran school and the orthodox Lutherans arose from the Pietists' conception of Christianity as chiefly consisting in a change of heart and consequent holiness of life. Orthodox Lutherans rejected this viewpoint as a gross simplification, stressing the need for the church and for sound theological underpinnings.

Spener died in 1705, but the movement, guided by Francke and fertilized from Halle, spread through the whole of Middle and North Germany. Among its greatest achievements, apart from the philanthropic institutions founded at Halle, were the revival of the Moravian Church in 1727 by Count von Zinzendorf, Spener's godson and a pupil in the Halle School for Young Noblemen, and the establishment of Protestant missions. In particular, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (10 July 1682 – 23 February 1719) became the first Pietist missionary to India.

Spener stressed the necessity of a new birth and separation of Christians from the world (see Asceticism). Many Pietists maintained that the new birth always had to be preceded by agonies of repentance, and that only a regenerated theologian could teach theology. The whole school shunned all common worldly amusements, such as dancing, the theatre, and public games. Some believe this led to a new form of justification by works. Its ecclesiolae in ecclesia also weakened the power and meaning of church organization. These Pietistic attitudes caused a counter-movement at the beginning of the 18th century; one leader was Valentin Ernst Löscher, superintendent at Dresden.

Mose Lambsen fparm
Title page of the 1743 Mose och Lambsens wisor. This edition had 136 hymns, which were not numbered, although most had instructions as to which melody the text should be sung. For a complete list of hymns, see the Swedish article on Mose och Lambsens wisor. The title is a reference to Revelation 15:3, where those who triumph over the beast sing the songs of Moses and the Lamb.

Establishment reaction

Authorities within state-endorsed Churches were suspicious of pietist doctrine which they often viewed as a social danger, as it "seemed either to generate an excess of evangelical fervor and so disturb the public tranquility or to promote a mysticism so nebulous as to obscure the imperatives of morality. A movement which cultivated religious feeling almost as an end itself". While some pietists (such as Francis Magny) held that "mysticism and the moral law went together", for others (like his pupil Françoise-Louise de la Tour) "pietist mysticism did less to reinforce the moral law than to take its place… the principle of 'guidance by inner light' was often a signal to follow the most intense of her inner sentiments… the supremacy of feeling over reason".[10] Religious authorities could bring pressure on pietists, such as when they brought some of Magny's followers before the local consistory to answer questions about their unorthodox views[11] or when they banished Magny from Vevey for heterodoxy in 1713.[10] Likewise, pietism challenged the orthodoxy via new media and formats: Periodical journals gained importance versus the former pasquills and single thesis, traditional disputation was replaced by competitive debating, which tried to gain new knowledge instead of defending orthodox scholarship.[12]

Later history

Der breite und der schmale Weg 2008
The Broad and the Narrow Way, a popular German Pietist painting, 1866

As a distinct movement, Pietism had its greatest strength by the middle of the 18th century; its very individualism in fact helped to prepare the way for the Enlightenment (Aufklärung), which took the church in an altogether different direction. Yet some claim that Pietism contributed largely to the revival of Biblical studies in Germany and to making religion once more an affair of the heart and of life and not merely of the intellect.

It likewise gave a new emphasis to the role of the laity in the church. Rudolf Sohm claimed that "It was the last great surge of the waves of the ecclesiastical movement begun by the Reformation; it was the completion and the final form of the Protestantism created by the Reformation. Then came a time when another intellectual power took possession of the minds of men." Dietrich Bonhoeffer of the German Confessing Church framed the same characterization in less positive terms when he called Pietism the last attempt to save Christianity as a religion: Given that for him religion was a negative term, more or less an opposite to revelation, this constitutes a rather scathing judgment. Bonhoeffer denounced the basic aim of Pietism, to produce a "desired piety" in a person, as unbiblical.

Pietism is considered the major influence that led to the creation of the "Evangelical Church of the Union" in Prussia in 1817. The King of Prussia ordered the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia to unite; they took the name "Evangelical" as a name both groups had previously identified with. This union movement spread through many German lands in the 1800s. Pietism, with its looser attitude toward confessional theology, had opened the churches to the possibility of uniting. The unification of the two branches of German Protestantism sparked the Schism of the Old Lutherans. Many Lutherans, called Old Lutherans formed free churches or emmigrated to the United States and Australia, where they formed bodies that would later become the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church of Australia, respectively. (Many immigrants to America, who agreed with the union movement, formed German Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations, later combined into the Evangelical Synod of North America, which is now a part of the United Church of Christ.)

Summer services are a feature of Laestadian Lutheran piety.

In the middle of the 19th century, Lars Levi Laestadius spearheaded a Pietist revival in Scandinavia that upheld what came to be known as Laestadian Lutheran theology, which is heralded today by the Laestadian Lutheran Church as well as by several congregations within mainstream Lutheran Churches, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Church of Sweden.[1][13] After encountering a Sami woman who experienced a conversion, Laestadius had a similar experience that "transformed his life and defined his calling".[2] As such, Laestadius "spend the rest of his lie advancing his idea of Lutheran pietism, focusing his energies on marginalized groups in the northernmost regions of the Nordic countries".[2] Laestadius called on his followers to embrace their Lutheran identity and as a result, Laestadian Lutherans have remained a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the national Church in that country, with some Laestadian Lutherans being consecrated as bishops.[2] In the United States, Laestadian Lutheran Churches were formed for Laestadian Pietists.[2] Laestadian Lutherans observe the Lutheran sacraments, holding classical Lutheran theology on infant baptism and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and also heavily emphasize Confession.[14] Uniquely, Laestadian Lutherans "discourage watching television, attending movies, dancing, playing card games or games of change, and drinking alcoholic beverages", as well as avoiding birth control—Laestadian Lutheran families usually have four to ten children.[14] Laestadian Lutherans gather in a central location for weeks at a time for summer revival services in which many young adults find their future spouses.[14]

Impact on party voting in United States and Great Britain

In the United States, Richard L. McCormick says, "In the nineteenth century voters whose religious heritage was pietistic or evangelical were to prone to support the Whigs and, later, the Republicans." Paul Kleppner generalizes, "the more pietistic the group's outlook the more intensely Republican its partisan affiliation."[15] McCormick notes that the key link between religious values and politics resulted from the "urge of evangelicals and Pietists to 'reach out and purge the world of sin'".[16] Pietistic denominations in the United States included Northern Methodists, Northern Baptists, Scandinavian Lutherans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and some smaller groups. The great majority were based in the northern states; some of these groups in the South would rather support the Democrats.[17]

In England in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Nonconformist Protestant denominations, such as the Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists, formed the base of the Liberal Party.[18] David Hempton states, "The Liberal Party was the main beneficiary of Methodist political loyalties."[19]

Cross-Denominational influence

Influence on the Methodists

Pietism was a major influence on John Wesley and others who began the Methodist movement in 18th-century Great Britain. John Wesley was influenced significantly by Moravians (e.g., Zinzendorf, Peter Boehler) and Pietists connected to Francke and Halle Pietism. The fruit of these Pietist influences can be seen in the modern American Methodists and members of the Holiness movement.

Influence on American religion

Pietism had an influence on American religion, as many German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, New York, and other areas. Its influence can be traced in Evangelicalism. Balmer says that:

Evangelicalism itself, I believe, is quintessentially North American phenomenon, deriving as it did from the confluence of Pietism, Presbyterianism, and the vestiges of Puritanism. Evangelicalism picked up the peculiar characteristics from each strain – warmhearted spirituality from the Pietists (for instance), doctrinal precisionism from the Presbyterians, and individualistic introspection from the Puritans – even as the North American context itself has profoundly shaped the various manifestations of evangelicalism: fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism, the holiness movement, Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and various forms of African-American and Hispanic evangelicalism.[20]

Influence on science

The Merton Thesis is an argument about the nature of early experimental science proposed by Robert K. Merton. Similar to Max Weber's famous claim on the link between Protestant ethic and the capitalist economy, Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of Protestant Pietism and early experimental science.[21] The Merton Thesis has resulted in continuous debates.[22]

See also

Part of the series on
17th-century scholasticism

Protestant Reformation

17th-century scholastics

Second scholasticism of the Jesuits and the Dominicans
Lutheran scholasticism during Lutheran Orthodoxy
Ramism among the Reformed scholastics
Metaphysical poets in the Church of England

Reactions within Christianity

Labadists against the Jesuits
Pietism against orthodox Lutherans
Nadere Reformatie within Dutch Calvinism
Richard Hooker against the Ramists

Reactions within philosophy

Modernists against Roman Catholics
Neologists against Lutherans
Spinozists against Dutch Calvinists
Deists against English Christianity
John Locke against Bishop Stillingfleet


  1. ^ a b c Holmquist, June Drenning (1 January 1981). They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State's Ethnic Groups. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 306. ISBN 9780873511551.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kivisto, Peter (16 October 2014). Religion and Immigration: Migrant Faiths in North America and Western Europe. Wiley. p. 109. ISBN 9780745686660.
  3. ^ Calvinist Puritans believed that government was ordained by God to enforce Christian behavior upon the world; pietists see the government as a part of the world, and believers were called to voluntarily live faithful lives independent of government.
  4. ^ a b Dawn, Russell P. (15 March 2018). "Piety vs. Pietism". Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  5. ^ Granquist, Mark A. (2015). Scandinavian Pietists: Spiritual Writings from 19th-Century Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Paulist Press. p. 13. ISBN 9781587684982.
  6. ^ A discussion of some of the earlier pietist influence in the Evangelical and Reformed church can be found in Dunn et al., "A History of the Evangelical and Reformed Church" Christian Education Press, Philadelphia, 1962. Further commentary can be found by Carl Viehe under Pietism, Illinois Trails, Washington County.
  7. ^ Scherer, James A. (1993). "The Triumph of Confessionalism in Nineteenth-Century German Lutheran Missions" (PDF). Missio Apostolica. 2: 71–78. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2006. This is an extract from Scherer's 1968 Ph.D. thesis, "Mission and Unity in Lutheranism". Scherer was Professor of World Mission and Church History at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago until his retirement.
  8. ^ a b Petersen, Wilhelm W. (2011). "Warm Winds From the South: The Spread of Pietism to Scandinavian Lutherans" (PDF). Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b Collins Winn, Christopher T.; Gerhz, Christopher; Holst, Eric; Carlson, G. William; Heide, Gail (25 October 2012). The Pietist Impulse in Christianity. Casemate Publishers. p. 200. ISBN 9780227680001.
  10. ^ a b Maurice Cranston (1982). Jean-Jacques: The Early Life and Work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1754. University of Chicago Press.
  11. ^ Leo Damrosch (2005). Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius. Mariner Books.
  12. ^ Gierl, Martin (1997). Pietismus und Aufklärung: theologische Polemik und die Kommunikationsreform der Wissenschaft am Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts [Pietism and enlightenment, theological polemic and the reform of science communication end of the 17. century] (in German). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
  13. ^ Elgán, Elisabeth; Scobbie, Irene (17 September 2015). Historical Dictionary of Sweden. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 159. ISBN 9781442250710.
  14. ^ a b c Lamport, Mark A. (31 August 2017). Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 406. ISBN 9781442271593.
  15. ^ Richard L. McCormick (1988). The Party Period and Public Policy. Oxford UP. pp. 47–48.
  16. ^ McCormick, p 48
  17. ^ Paul Kleppner, The Third Electoral System 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures (University of North Carolina Press, 1979).
  18. ^ Howard Martin (1996). Britain in the 19th Century. Nelson Thornes. p. 298.
  19. ^ David Hempton. Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire. Cambridge UP. p. 37.
  20. ^ Randall Balmer (2002). The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. vii–viii.
  21. ^ Sztompka, 2003
  22. ^ Cohen, 1990

Further reading

  • Brown, Dale: Understanding Pietism, rev. ed. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Publishing House, 1996.
  • Brunner, Daniel L. Halle Pietists in England: Anthony William Boehm and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Pietismus 29. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1993.
  • Olson, Roger E., Christian T. Collins Winn. Reclaiming Pietism: Retrieving an Evangelical Tradition (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015). xiii + 190 pp. online review
  • Shantz, Douglas H. An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
  • Stoeffler, F. Ernest. The Rise of Evangelical Pietism. Studies in the History of Religion 9. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1965.
  • Stoeffler, F. Ernest. German Pietism During the Eighteenth Century. Studies in the History of Religion 24. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973.
  • Stoeffler, F. Ernest. ed.: Continental Pietism and Early American Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976.
  • Winn, Christian T. et al. eds. The Pietist Impulse in Christianity (2012)

Older works

  • Joachim Feller, Sonnet. In: Luctuosa desideria Quibus […] Martinum Bornium prosequebantur Quidam Patroni, Praeceptores atque Amici. Lipsiae [1689], pp. [2]–[3]. (Facsimile in: Reinhard Breymayer (Ed.): Luctuosa desideria. Tübingen 2008, pp. 24–25.) Here for the first time the newly detected source. – Less exactly cf. Martin Brecht: Geschichte des Pietismus, vol. I, p. 4.
  • Johann Georg Walch, Historische und theologische Einleitung in die Religionsstreitigkeiten der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche (1730);
  • Friedrich August Tholuck, Geschichte des Pietismus und des ersten Stadiums der Aufklärung (1865);
  • Heinrich Schmid, Die Geschichte des Pietismus (1863);
  • Max Goebel, Geschichte des christlichen Lebens in der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Kirche (3 vols., 1849–1860).

The subject is dealt with at length in

Other works are:

  • Heinrich Heppe, Geschichte des Pietismus und der Mystik in der reformierten Kirche (1879), which is sympathetic;
  • Albrecht Ritschl, Geschichte des Pietismus (5 vols., 1880–1886), which is hostile; and
  • Eugen Sachsse, Ursprung und Wesen des Pietismus (1884).

See also

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Nippold's article in Theol. Stud. und Kritiken (1882), pp. 347?392;
  • Hans von Schubert, Outlines of Church History, ch. xv. (Eng. trans., 1907); and
  • Carl Mirbt's article, "Pietismus," in Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopädie für prot. Theologie u. Kirche, end of vol. xv.

The most extensive and current edition on Pietism is the four-volume edition in German, covering the entire movement in Europe and North America

  • Geschichte des Pietismus (GdP)
    Im Auftrag der Historischen Kommission zur Erforschung des Pietismus herausgegeben von Martin Brecht, Klaus Deppermann, Ulrich Gäbler und Hartmut Lehmann
    (English: On behalf of the Historical Commission for the Study of pietism edited by Martin Brecht, Klaus Deppermann, Ulrich Gaebler and Hartmut Lehmann)
    • Band 1: Der Pietismus vom siebzehnten bis zum frühen achtzehnten Jahrhundert. In Zusammenarbeit mit Johannes van den Berg, Klaus Deppermann, Johannes Friedrich Gerhard Goeters und Hans Schneider hg. von Martin Brecht. Goettingen 1993. / 584 p.
    • Band 2: Der Pietismus im achtzehnten Jahrhundert. In Zusammenarbeit mit Friedhelm Ackva, Johannes van den Berg, Rudolf Dellsperger, Johann Friedrich Gerhard Goeters, Manfred Jakubowski-Tiessen, Pentii Laasonen, Dietrich Meyer, Ingun Montgomery, Christian Peters, A. Gregg Roeber, Hans Schneider, Patrick Streiff und Horst Weigelt hg. von Martin Brecht und Klaus Deppermann. Goettingen 1995. / 826 p.
    • Band 3: Der Pietismus im neunzehnten und zwanzigsten Jahrhundert. In Zusammenarbeit mit Gustav Adolf Benrath, Eberhard Busch, Pavel Filipi, Arnd Götzelmann, Pentii Laasonen, Hartmut Lehmann, Mark A. Noll, Jörg Ohlemacher, Karl Rennstich und Horst Weigelt unter Mitwirkung von Martin Sallmann hg. von Ulrich Gäbler. Goettingen 2000. / 607 p.
    • Band 4: Glaubenswelt und Lebenswelten des Pietismus. In Zusammenarbeit mit Ruth Albrecht, Martin Brecht, Christian Bunners, Ulrich Gäbler, Andreas Gestrich, Horst Gundlach, Jan Harasimovicz, Manfred Jakubowski-Tiessen, Peter Kriedtke, Martin Kruse, Werner Koch, Markus Matthias, Thomas Müller Bahlke, Gerhard Schäfer (†), Hans-Jürgen Schrader, Walter Sparn, Udo Sträter, Rudolf von Thadden, Richard Trellner, Johannes Wallmann und Hermann Wellenreuther hg. von Hartmut Lehmann. Goettingen 2004. / 709 p.

External links

Christianity in the 18th century

Christianity in the 18th century is marked by the First Great Awakening in the Americas, along with the expansion of the Spanish and Portuguese empires around the world, which helped to spread Catholicism.

Conrad Beissel

Georg Conrad Beissel (March 1, 1691 – July 6, 1768) was the German-born religious leader who in 1732 founded the Ephrata Community in the Province of Pennsylvania.

Ephrata Cloister

The Ephrata Cloister or Ephrata Community was a religious community, established in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel at Ephrata, in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The grounds of the community are now owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Marie Kachel Bucher, the last surviving resident of the Ephrata Cloister, died on July 27, 2008, at the age of 98.


Evangelicalism (), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has had a long presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

Its origins are usually traced to 1738, with various theological streams contributing to its foundation, including English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism. Preeminently, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch. Among leaders and major figures of the evangelical Protestant movement were John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Harold John Ockenga, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in Great Britain and the United States.

In 2016, there were an estimated 619 million evangelicals in the world, meaning that one in four Christians would be classified as evangelical. The United States has the largest concentration of evangelicals in the world. American evangelicals are a quarter of the nation's population and its single largest religious group. The main movements are Baptist churches, Evangelical Anglicanism, Wesleyanism, Confessional Reformed churches, including the Presbyterian Church in America, Pentecostalism, charismatic Evangelicalism, neo-charismatic Evangelicalism and nondenominational Christianity.

Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg

Fredrik Gabriel Hedberg (15 July 1811 – 19 August 1893) was Finnish Lutheran priest and vicar. He was a Neo-Lutheran theologian, prominent figure in the Finnish evangelical revival movement and a leader of confessional Lutheranism in Finland.Fredrik Hedberg was born in Saloinen, now a part of Raahe in the Ostrobothnia region of Western Finland. His father was a sheriff and both his grandfathers had been priests in Ostrobothnia. Hedberg earned a master's of philosophy and theology from the Royal Academy of Turku. He was ordained a Lutheran priest in 1834 and became curate in Siuntio, then in Lohja. Dating from 1836, he had supported the Pietist revivalist movement led by Savonian farmer and lay preacher Paavo Ruotsalainen. Soon Hedberg became one of the leaders of this movement in southern Finland. Rationalist diocesan chapter begun to dislike Hedberg's activity because of his Pietism and he was transferred first to Paimio 1838 and 1840 as prison chaplain in Oulu. In 1842 he became temporary curate in Replot and in 1843 parish priest in Pöytyä. In 1853 he became vicar in Kaarina, and in 1862 vicar at Kimito Church in Kimito.

Gradually, Hedberg discovered Lutheranism without any "order of salvation" from Martin Luther's postil and abandoned Pietism including books of Arndt and Spener among others, which had formerly been his spiritual authorities. He began to read Martin Luther, Stephan Praetorius and the Book of Concord. He wrote a devotional commentary to 1st chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, "The Doctrine of Faith unto Salvation" (Eng. transl. 1998), which focused on justification by faith alone, being full of joy about salvation. Hedberg now began a controversy against Pietism, using works of Johann Gerhard, Andreas Gottlob Rudelbach, Wilhelm Löhe, Gottfried Thomasius, Gottlieb Christoph Adolf von Harless and Catenhusen. His main writing in this controversy is Pietism och Christendom (1845) where he criticised Philipp Jacob Spener, Rambach, Johann Philipp Fresenius, Anders Nohrborg and Henric Schartau. In 1855 Hedberg published a book against the teaching of the Baptists.Hedberg published several religious newspapers for his readers. He kept reading neo-Lutheran theology, Martin Luther and evangelical Roman Catholics Martin Boos and Johannes Gossner. He organised a fundraising as a gift for persecuted Old Lutherans of Prussia. Also in Sweden he had lots of readers associated with Carl Olof Rosenius. His theological influence was such that the Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland was founded in 1873 to foster and maintain confessional Lutheran revival in Finland. In later years Hedberg focused more on sacraments and on the mystical union with Christ. At Kimito, the Eucharist was celebrated every Sunday during Hedberg's time. As celebrant he also always wore the chasuble.

Gottfried Arnold

Gottfried Arnold (5 September 1666 in Annaberg, Erzgebirge – 30 May 1714 in Perleberg) was a German Lutheran theologian and historian.

Harmony, Pennsylvania

Harmony is a borough in Butler County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 890 at the 2010 census. It is located about 30 miles (48 km) north of Pittsburgh.

Hymnody of continental Europe

Hymnody in continental Europe developed from early liturgical music, especially Gregorian chant. Music became more complicated as embellishments and variations were added, along with influences from secular music. Although vernacular leisen and vernacular or mixed-language Carol (music) were sung in the Middle Ages, more vernacular hymnody emerged during the Protestant Reformation, although ecclesiastical Latin continued to be used after the Reformation. Since then, developments have shifted between isorhythmic, homorhythmic, and more rounded musical forms with some lilting. Theological underpinnings influenced the narrative point of view used, with Pietism especially encouraging the use of the first person singular. In the last several centuries, many songs from Evangelicalism have been translated from English into German.

Johann Conrad Dippel

Johann Conrad Dippel (10 August 1673 – 25 April 1734) was a German pietist theologian, alchemist and physician.

Johann Wilhelm Petersen

Johann Wilhelm Petersen (July 1, 1649 in Osnabrück – January 31, 1727 in Zerbst) was a German theologian, mystic, and Millennialist.

Johann Wilhelm Petersen grew up in Lübeck and studied theology at the Katharineum in Lübeck, as well as in Giessen, Rostock, Leipzig, Wittenberg and Jena. He studied with Philipp Jakob Spener in Frankfurt, and they became friends in 1675. Through his affiliation with Spener, Petersen became interested in Pietism.

As a student, Petersen wrote a 1668 wedding poem for Dieterich Buxtehude. This poem was later composed as a cantata (Oh blessed, to the Last Supper of the Lamb is appointed BuxWV 90).

By 1677, Petersen was pastor of the church at Hanover. He was the leader and superintendent of the diocese of Lübeck in Eutin until 1688, and from 1688 to 1692 he was the superintendent in Aue.

In 1680, he published Acquittal Catechism, and fell out of favor with religious leaders and lost his position in the church because of his Chiliastic teachings.

Together with his wife Johanna Eleonora, he developed an independent form of spirituality in affinity with forms of pietism and mysticism. He spent the rest of his life on his property at low-Dodeleben, from 1724 to Thymern and Zerbst.

Petersen wrote a book with the title Mysterion apokatastaseos panton to explain his lecture about the Origenes´s thesis: Apokatastasis. 'What fruit has the doctrine of eternal damnation born up till now? Has it made men more pious? On the contrary, when they have properly considered the cruel, frightful disproportion between the punishments and their own sins, they have begun to believe nothing at all... (Mysterion, p. 222)

Leinbiz read and appreciated the book and in 1706 started exchanging letters with Petersen. He encouraged him to expose his views by composing a work in verse for which he provided ideas and guidelines. The poem appeared in 1720 with the title Uranias, qua opera Dei magna omnibus retro seculis et oeconomiis transisctis usque ad apocatastasim seculorum omnium and with a preface acknowledging the support.References


Neo-Lutheranism was a 19th-century revival movement within Lutheranism which began with the Pietist driven Erweckung, or Awakening, and developed in reaction against theological rationalism and pietism. This movement followed the Old Lutheran movement and focused on a reassertion of the identity of Lutherans as a distinct group within the broader community of Christians, with a renewed focus on the Lutheran Confessions as a key source of Lutheran doctrine. Associated with these changes was a renewed focus on traditional doctrine and liturgy, which paralleled the growth of Anglo-Catholicism in England. It was sometimes even called "German Puseyism". In the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, neo-Lutheranism was paralleled by Johann Adam Möhler. The chief literary organ of the neo-Lutheranism was Evangelische Kirchenzeitung, edited by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg.

Old Economy Village

Old Economy Village is a historic settlement in Ambridge, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. Administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, it lies on the banks of the Ohio River and is surrounded by downtown Ambridge. The Village is the last of three settlements established by the Harmony Society in the United States (another in Pennsylvania and one in Indiana). Established in 1824, it was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1966 under the name of "Old Economy."

Philipp Spener

Philipp Jakob Spener (13 January 1635 – 5 February 1705), was a German Lutheran theologian who essentially founded what would become to be known as Pietism. He was later dubbed the "Father of Pietism."

Radical Pietism

Radical Pietism is Pietism interpreted to the effect that its followers decided to break with denominational Lutheranism, forming separate churches.

Such Radical Pietists contrast with Church Pietists, who chose to remain within their denominational settings. Radical Pietists distinguished between true and false Christianity (usually represented by established churches), which led to their separation from these entities.Pietism emphasized the need for a "religion of the heart" instead of the head, and was characterized by ethical purity, inward devotion, charity, asceticism, and mysticism. Leadership was empathetic to adherents instead of being strident loyalists to sacramentalism.

The Pietistic movement was birthed in Germany through spiritual pioneers who wanted a deeper emotional experience rather than a preset adherence to form (no matter how genuine). They stressed a personal experience of salvation and a continuous openness to new spiritual illumination.

Many of the Radical Pietists were influenced by the writings of Jakob Böhme, Gottfried Arnold, and Philipp Jakob Spener, among others. They taught that personal holiness (piety), spiritual maturity, Bible study, prayer, and fasting were essential towards "feeling the effects" of grace.

Religion in Iceland

Religion in Iceland has been predominantly Christian since its adoption as the state religion by the Althing under the influence of Olaf Tryggvason, the king of Norway, in 999/1000 CE. Before that, between the 9th and 10th century, the prevailing religion among the early Icelanders (mostly Norwegian settlers fleeing Harald Fairhair's monarchical centralisation in 872–930) was the northern Germanic religion, which persisted for centuries even after the official Christianisation of the state.

Starting in the 1530s, Iceland, originally Catholic and under the Danish crown, formally switched to Lutheranism with the Icelandic Reformation, which culminated in 1550. The Lutheran Church of Iceland has remained since then the country's state church. Freedom of religion has been granted to the Icelanders since 1874. The Church of Iceland is supported by the government, but all registered religions receive support from a church tax (sóknargjald) paid by taxpayers over the age of sixteen.Since the late 20th century, and especially the early 21st century, religious life in Iceland has become more diverse, with a decline of Christianity, the rise of unaffiliated people, and the emergence of new religions, notably Heathenry, in Iceland also called Ásatrú, which seeks to reconstruct the Germanic folk religion. A large part of the population remain members of the Church of Iceland, but are actually irreligious and atheists, as demonstrated by demoscopic analyses.

Revolt of the Muckers

In the Revolt of the Muckers 1873–1874, in the region of Sapiranga, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Jacobina Mentz Maurer, believed by some to be a prophet, led a conflict that happened in the years of 1873 and 1874, between two groups in a German community in Southern Brazil. It was eventually quelled by the Brazilian military and its leaders either killed or arrested and imprisoned.

Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession

The Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (SECAC) (Czech: Slezská církev evangelická augsburského vyznání (SCEAV), Polish: Śląski Kościół Ewangelicki Wyznania Augsburskiego) is the biggest Lutheran Church in the Czech Republic. Its congregations are located mainly in the Czech part of Cieszyn Silesia. A significant number of the followers belong to the Polish ethnic minority. There is a strong heritage of pietism and evangelicalism in the church. In 2009, it reported 15,632 baptized members.The church in its present form was established after World War I, but its origins can be traced to the 16th century. Lutheranism started to spread over Cieszyn Silesia during Luther’s lifetime. From 1610 it was subject to counter-reformation. In 1709 a church in Cieszyn was given to the Lutherans by Emperor Joseph I and this church became a significant centre of pietism and played an important role in the establishment of the Moravian Church. The revivalist movement was also strongly present in Cieszyn Silesia at the beginning of the 20th century, culminating in 1905. The spiritual leader of the church during its persecution under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia was pastor Władysław Santarius.

SECAC is a member of the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and the Lutheran World Federation. In 2006 SECAC established a formal partnership with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod; this partnership was terminated in 2009 due to changes in the moral policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. SECAC cooperates with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

The current bishop is Tomáš Tyrlík.

Sven Rosén (Pietist)

Sven Rosén (1708 in Västergötland, Sweden – 1750 in Emmaus, Pennsylvania) was a Radical-Pietistic writer and leader.

Valentin Ernst Löscher

Valentin Ernst Löscher (born at Sondershausen 29 December 1673; died at Dresden 12 December 1749) was a German orthodox Lutheran theologian.

At the University of Wittenberg, where his father was professor of theology, he gave his attention mainly to philology and history, but out of respect to his father's wish he selected a theological subject for his master's dissertation, in which he opposed the Pietistic position. Subsequent study at Jena aroused his interest in church history. During travels undertaken at this time he formed the acquaintance of a number of influential anti-Pietistic theologians. In 1696 he began to lecture at Wittenberg on the origin of Deism and Pietism. After serving as superintendent at Jüterbog (1698-1701) and Delitzsch (1701-07) and professor of theology at Wittenberg (1707–09), he became pastor of the Kreuzkirche and superintendent in Dresden. Here he remained the rest of his life. His practical duties here turned his attention more particularly to the needs of the Church. His orthodoxy did not prevent him from admitting the truth of the claims of the Pietists concerning the prevailing perfunctoriness of religious life, which he ascribed to the negligence of orthodox pastors. He at once took earnest measures to encourage a deeper spiritual life in the Church. He had already begun the publication of his Unschuldige Nachrichten von alten und neuen theologischen Sachen (Wittenberg and Leipzig, 1701 sqq.), the first theological periodical. The comprehensive scope and able management of the magazine gave it great importance. Through it Löscher became the leader of the orthodox party, as opposed to the Pietistic and naturalistic factions in the Lutheran Church, and the representative of scientific Lutheran theology.

In opposition to the proposal that Pietism should be considered the best means of promoting the union of the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches (advocated at the time by the Prussian Government), Löscher published several works, including Ausführliche Historia motuum zwischen den Evangelisch-Lutherischen und Reformierten (3 parts, Frankfort, 1707–08). In the course of a controversy with the Pietist Joachim Lange, Löscher defended orthodoxy in his Praenotiones et notiones theologicae (Wittenberg, 1708). However, his most comprehensive criticism of Pietism appeared in his magazine under the title Timotheus Verinus, in which work he held that the Pietists had a false conception of the relation between piety and religion and that their zeal for piety placed them in opposition to the doctrine of justification by faith. The work inspired a bitter reply from his Pietistic opponents, which called forth from Löscher his greatest work, Vollständiger Timotheus Verinus (2 parts, Wittenberg, 1718-22. Eng. transl., The Complete Timotheus Verinus 1998, Northwestern Publishing House). In this he discusses the origin and rapid development of Pietism and elaborates upon its evils. Nevertheless, he was unable to check the advance of Pietism or even to pass a true judgment upon the real significance of the movement. The importance of Löscher's part in the Pietistic controversy was not fully recognized until the return to Evangelical doctrine in the nineteenth century.

Löscher took an active part also in the controversy which at that time was being waged against the Roman Catholic Church in Dresden and contributed a number of studies to that cause, notably his Vollständige Reformations-Akta und Documenta (3 vols., Leipzig, 1720–29). He also opposed Wolff's system of philosophy, claiming that "philosophical indifferentism" portended a revolution in Christianity.

Luther's Small Catechism
Chief articles of faith
in the

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