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Jean-Paul Willaime

Subject Religion
Sociology » Sociology of Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The word Pietism is applied to that religious awareness that developed from within Protestantism, in particular in the seventeenth century. It constituted neither a unified theological tendency nor a structured orientation. This awareness expresses a desire for a more intense and practical expression of piety, which has been articulated throughout the ages and in a number churches. It can be said that Pietism is a reaction to the mundane and intellectualist tendencies of Protestantism, a reaction which stresses the personal religious experience of each believer as well as the mediation of the Bible in everyday Christian behavior. Pietism does not stem only from the development and intensification of inner life, but also in the founding of schools, orphanages, and missions. It represents a theology of the heart, which is relatively indifferent to doctrinal matters and for which the fundamental criterion is authenticity. Sociologically, Pietism is a popular and enterprising movement that crosses a range of diverse Protestant denominations. It is particularly manifest in Lutheranism, Methodism, and in the many revivalist religious movements that have punctuated the history of Protestantism. Historically, Pietism appeared in German Protestantism in the seventeenth century. Philipp Jakob Spener's book published in 1675, Pia Desideria (Pious Wishes), is one of the outstanding works ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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