Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe

Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe

Article excerpt

An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe. By Douglas H. Shantz. Foreword by Peter C. Erb. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. ISBN: 1-4214-0831-7. xix and 490 pages. Paper. $35.00.

One of the lost and controversial treasures of the Protestant churches is the legacy of Pietism. All too typically the standard narrative of Protestant history leaps from the events of the sixteenth century through the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) directly to the influence of the Enlightenment on modern theology with special focus on the nineteenth century after Schleiermacher. Such an approach deprives attention to two of the most fascinating historical and theological developments that continue to cast enormous influence on Christianity up to the present: Protestant Orthodoxy (both Lutheran and Reformed) and Pietism, with their colorful cast of characters and wide range of commitments. This book makes a tremendous contribution to filling in part of this gap, chronicling the streams and eddies of German Pietism with special focus on 1670-1727.

Unlike some historians, Shantz casts a wide net in his definition of what counts as pietism, incorporating in this treatment major figures and movements from radicalism, spiritualism, and churchly expressions of Pietism. "The genius of Pietism lay in the adjectives it employed: true Christianity; heartfelt, living faith; a living knowledge of God; the inward Christ and the inner Word. Another set of adjectives expressed Pietist hopes for renewal of humanity and a better future for the church: the new man, born-again Christianity, the coming Philadelphian church. Born-again laypeople became agents of their own spirituality, reading the Bible for themselves and teaching and encouraging one another in non-church settings" (284). …

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