Pia Desideria

Pia Desideria

Pia Desideria

Pia Desideria

Synopsis

This classic work, first published in 1675, inaugurated the movement in Germany called Pietism. In it a young pastor, born and raised during the devastating Thirty Years War, voiced a plea for reform of the church which made the author and his proposals famous. A lifelong friend of the philosopher Leibnitz, Spener was an important influence in the life of the next leader of German Pietism, August Herman Francke. He was also a sponsor at the baptism of Nicholas Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Church, whose members played a crucial role in the life of John Wesley.

Excerpt

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Christendom experienced a revival of moral and religious earnestness. The revival did not appear everywhere at the same time, nor did it always assume precisely the same form. Negatively it represented a protest against the formalism in doctrine, worship, and life into which churches and their members had fallen after the original impulses of the Reformation had dissipated. Positively it represented an attempt to cultivate a keener awareness of the present reality of God’s judgment and grace and the bearing which these were believed to have on personal and social life. We can observe evidences of all this not only in the English Puritanism of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and in the Pietism of the European continent during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but also in the contemporary Jansenist movement within Roman Catholicism and the Hasidist movement in Judaism. The English Puritan John Bunyan, the Dutch Reformed Willem Teelinck, the German Lutheran Philip Jacob Spener, the Moravian Nicholas Zinzendorf, the Methodist progenitor John Wesley, the American Presbvterian Gilbert Tennent, and the Roman Catholic Blaise Pascal—all of these were participants in a common historical climate although they reacted differently in their concrete historical situations.

An excellent brief analysis of Puritanism, Pietism, and Evangelicalism is available in John T. McNeill, Modern Christian Movements (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), pp. 15–103. On the likenesses and differences between Puritanism and Pietism see pp. 71–74.

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