Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Pietist Impulse in Christianity

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Pietist Impulse in Christianity

Article excerpt

The Pietist Impulse in Christianity. Edited by Christian T. Collins Winn, G. William Carlson, Christopher Gehrz, and Erich Hoist. (Cambridge, UK: James Clark & Co. 2012. Pp. xxvi, 340. $40.00 paperback. ISBN 978-0-22768000-1.)

The twenty-five essays in this volume as well as its title originated in a 2009 conference held at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.The editors' introduction emphasizes the pietist roots of Bethel University and its parent institution, Bethel Seminary, in the nineteenth-century influx of Swedish Baptist pietists to America further leavened by strains of German Pietism, Anglo-American revivalism, Wesleyanism, and the "Holiness Movement." The editors further note the range of understandings of Pietism from that of a specific historical-theological development arising within late-seventeenthcentury German Lutheranism to that of an ongoing "Pietist impulse" for spiritual renewal and regeneration that unites historically, geographically and culturally disparate phenomena such as Pietism, Puritanism, Wesleyanism, revivalism and evangelicalism. . . . Pietism began as an effort to "leaven the church" with a heart religion and break the bonds of a culturally captive Christianity-this challenge remains relevant for today's Christian communities, (p. xxii)

The essays are grouped into eight parts: "Pietism and the Pietist Impulse" (two chapters), "Continental German Pietism" (five chapters), "The Pietist Impulse under the Conditions of Modernity" (three chapters), "Wesley the Pietist" (three chapters), "Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Trans-Atlantic Scandinavian Pietistm" (four chapters), "The Pietist Impulse in North American Christianity" (four chapters), "The Pietist Impulse in Missions and Globalizing Christianity" (three chapters), and "Benediction" (one chapter). In general, the essays share an effort to defend Pietism from charges that the movement's emphasis upon religious experience and regeneration frequently degenerated into individualism and anti-intellectualism (for example, references to Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind [Grand Rapids, MI, 1994]), an egregious charge for authors defending and promoting pietism as the key to evangelical higher education (nine of the contributors are directly affiliated with Bethel University). …

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