Saturday, February 16, 2013

Learning About Pietism

Over at The Pietist Schoolman, Chris Gehrz has put together an impressive bibliography of the best books on the history of pietism.  Anyone interested in the history of this movement should check it out and start reading!  Here is a small taste:

I still think Dale Brown’s Understanding Pietism is the place to start (originally published in the late 1970s, but then revised in the mid-Nineties), though a newer, inexpensive supplement emphasizing Pietist ethics is Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom’s Angels, Worms, and Bogeys. (Pricier, but also relatively concise is Harry Yeide, Jr., Studies in Classical Pietism.) Or if you’re not yet sure you want to actually spend money on this, but want a place to start: the 1986 issue of Christian History magazine on Pietism is (as of yesterday) available as full-text, with articles by scholars like Don Durnbaugh, John Weborg, Gary Sattler, and Ernest Stoeffler and excerpts from Pietist writings and hymns.

You can find good chapters on German Pietism embedded in larger narratives or collections, which helpfully puts the movement in context. My favorite is “Pietists Seek to Renew Lutheran Theology,” in Roger Olson’s hefty, but brilliantly readable historical theology text, The Story of Christian Theology. From the Covenant Church, John Weborg contributed “Pietism: Theology in Service of Living toward God” to The Variety of American Evangelicalism, eds. Donald W. Dayton and Robert K. Johnston. 

At risk of engaging in rank self-promotion, I do think that our 2011 collection of essays, The Pietist Impulse in Christianity (eds. Christian Collins Winn, G. William Carlson, Eric Holst, and myself) is a good place to start if you’re not afraid to dig into some scholarly work on a wide variety of aspects of Pietism (broadly defined). If you want a preview… after the book came out I wrote a series of posts summarizing each section of the book. (And if you have lots of money to spend and want to sample the current scholarship on Pietism studies, you couldn’t do much better than Pietism in Germany and North America 1680-1820, eds. Jonathan Strom et al.)