I am beginning a new series taking a look at the six proposals offered by Philip Jacob Spener to correct the conditions of the church. Spener (1640-1705) was a German Lutheran minister who called the church to a more heartfelt commitment to Christ.His six proposals are found in his book Pia Desideria (Heartfelt Desires for a God-pleasing Improvement o fthe True Protestant Church). These proposals offer a glimpse into the Pietistic agenda. The proposals are:
- A more extensive use of the Scriptures
- Exercise of a spiritual priesthood
- A more intentional emphasis on orthopraxy, right practices
- Transforming the way religious controversies are conducted
- Reforming theological education
- Reforming preaching so that it edifies and promotes godly living
The Pietistic movement that swept through Northern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries gave birth to my tribe–The Evangelical Covenant Church. Here is a good way to understand Pietism: “Pietism sought to view piety as the convergence of faith believed (assensus) and the “believing” faith in the life of a Christian. The convergence of these two factors yields a life that has congruence of faith and practice” (John Weborg, Pietism a Question of Meaning and Vocation The Covenant Quarterly 41 (August 1983): 59-71.)
Pietism has gotten a bad rap along the way. See my series: Reclaiming Pietism–Hallmarks #1-10 found at this site Church Then and Now beginning last January 2015. That series sought to put Pietism in a better light.
Spener had hopes for a reforming church. So do we! I will be looking at each of these proposals in the coming weeks.