“Do You Believe in the Resurrection?”: My Elevator Speech for The Pietist Option

In my column for the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of the journal Pietisten, I took a shot at doing something I’ve been most leery to do. Here’s how the column starts:

Gehrz & Pattie, The Pietist Option“You need an elevator speech.” So said a friend when I announced on Facebook the publication of our book on Pietism. What she meant is that we needed to come up with a pitch for The Pietist Option that would last about thirty seconds, the length of time we’d have to explain Pietism to someone sharing a typical elevator ride.

“Can’t they just read the book?” I wanted to reply. “It’s not much more than a hundred pages.”

And truly, I still dislike the very idea of an elevator speech — if that’s where it stops. It feeds one of the many problems with communication today: our assumption that we can reduce complicated concepts to information nuggets. And I’ve written before that I don’t see Pietism as a quick fix. If it’s going to work at all, the Pietist Option will work because people have taken the time to read, pray, and talk together, and then to live out our six practical proposals for renewal.

But the reason I think that all that can work is summed up in what passes for the elevator talk I did draft in Pietisten:

Do you believe in the Resurrection? Great! Now, what difference does that make in your life? Do you live in the hope that Jesus Christ is risen, that God has conquered death? Because if you do, you’re already starting to live out the Pietist option.

I have so much more I want to say… But if I only had half a minute, I’d want the person in that elevator to know that Pietists are people of the Resurrection. As my colleague Christian Collins Winn puts it, Pietists have always believed that if God can bring new life to an individual, God can bring new life to churches, and to the world.

So what does that mean? How do we not only believe something that causes the wise of this world to scoff (Acts 17:32), but live as if we believe in that impossible doctrine? If I’ve bought myself a few more minutes’ attention, I think I could outline three more ways that living as people of the Resurrection helps us make our faith active in love of God and neighbor.

To read more about those three implications of the Resurrection, click through to the Pietisten column.

(It’s preceded by a generous review of our book by Covenant pastor Ryan Eikenbary-Barber. I’d also recommend Mike Fargo’s reflections on the similarities between Pietism and the original Benedict option, plus Jay Phelan’s brief review essay on recent books about Martin Luther and the Reformation.)