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Pietism(pī`ətĭzəm), a movement in the Lutheran Church (see LutheranismLutheranism,
branch of Protestantism that arose as a result of the Reformation, whose religious faith is based on the principles of Martin Luther, although he opposed such a designation.
..... Click the link for more information. ), most influential between the latter part of the 17th cent. and the middle of the 18th. It was an effort to stir the church out of a settled attitude in which dogma and intellectual religion seemed to be supplanting the precepts of the Bible and religion of the heart. Although the movement bore resemblance to aspects of PuritanismPuritanism,
in the 16th and 17th cent., a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a profound influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Origins
Historically Puritanism began early (c.
..... Click the link for more information. , e.g., use of distinctive dress and the renunciation of worldly pleasures, the essential aim of the true Pietist was to place the spirit of Christian living above the letter of doctrine.
The first great leader was Philipp Jakob SpenerSpener, Philipp Jakob
, 1635–1705, German theologian, founder of Pietism. He was pastor of the Lutheran church at Frankfurt in 1670 when, to counteract the barren intellectualism of prevailing orthodoxy, he instituted meetings for fellowship and Bible study.
..... Click the link for more information. , who began (1670) to hold devotional meetings. His Collegia Pietatis were designed to bring Christians into helpful fellowship and increase Bible study. Spener's book, Pia desideria (1675), emphasized the need of earnest Bible study and the belief that the lay members of the church should have part in the spiritual control. Although Spener did not intend separation from the church, his repudiation of the importance of doctrine and his desire to limit church membership to those who had experienced personal regeneration tended to undermine orthodoxy, and Pietism was severely attacked.
After Spener's death the work was carried on by August Hermann FranckeFrancke, August Hermann
, 1663–1727, German Protestant minister and philanthropist. In 1686, encouraged by Philipp Jakob Spener, he helped found the Collegium philobiblicum for the systematic study of the Scriptures. He became a leading exponent of Pietism c.
..... Click the link for more information. , but after his time Pietism declined. Its effect was strongest in N and central Germany, but reached into Switzerland, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe. A number of foreign missions were begun. Through Count ZinzendorfZinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von
, 1700–1760, German churchman, patron and bishop of the refounded Moravian Church, b. Dresden. Reared under Pietistic influences, he was early in sympathy with the persecuted and almost extinct Moravian Brethren (often called Bohemian
..... Click the link for more information. the Moravian ChurchMoravian Church,
Renewed Church of the Brethren,
or Unitas Fratrum
, an evangelical Christian communion whose adherents are sometimes called United Brethren or Herrnhuters.
..... Click the link for more information. was influenced by it. Pietism earned a lasting place in the European intellectual tradition through its influence on such figures as KantKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
..... Click the link for more information. , SchleiermacherSchleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst
, 1768–1834, German Protestant theologian, b. Breslau. He broke away from the Moravian Church and studied at Halle. Ordained in 1794, he accepted a post as a Reformed preacher in Berlin.
..... Click the link for more information. , and KierkegaardKierkegaard, Søren Aabye
, 1813–55, Danish philosopher and religious thinker. Kierkegaard's outwardly uneventful life in Copenhagen contrasted with his intensive inner examination of self and society, which resulted in various profound writings; their dominant theme is
..... Click the link for more information. .
See D. H. Shantz, An Introduction to German Pietism (2013).
a mystical trend in Protestantism, especially Lutheranism, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, which considered religious feelings more important than religious dogma. Pietism appeared as a reaction against the formalism and dry rationalism of orthodox 17th-century Lutheranism and as a revival of the ideas of primitive Lutheranism. It was also directed against the rationalist philosophy of the Enlightenment.
The founder of Pietism was the Frankfurt theologian P. J. Spener, who began to preach in the 1670’s. The University of Halle, opened in 1694, became the center of Pietism as represented by A. H. Francke. Rejecting church ritualism, the Pietists called for a deepening of faith, attributed special importance to the inner emotional experiences of the believer and to prayer that is conducive to religious feeling, and urged moral self-improvement. Emphasizing the practice of Christian moral principles, the Pietists declared that it was sinful to participate in any entertainment—theater, dances, or games—or to read nonreligious literature.
The reactionary and hypocritical nature of Pietism manifested itself particularly in the 18th century, when the monarchical Junker circles of Prussia embraced it. Pietism was relatively democratic in nature in Württemberg, particularly in the teachings of G. Arnold. It exerted an influence on romanticism. Pietism experienced a resurgence in certain areas in the 19th century. In its broader sense, pietism refers to mystical religious sentiment and conduct.