While my research has taken a new direction, I hope that Pietism will never be too long off my agenda. So I was grateful to Caleb Lindgren of Christianity Today for inviting me to write a profile of Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705), the Lutheran pastor who is often considered the father of the Pietist movement.
Though my piece is part of a running series on “denominational founders” for CT’s Christian History section, I tried to explain why that label doesn’t really fit a man whose influence is easy to undervalue:
Thanks to a modest but powerful program of reform that inspired energetic followers, Spener would eventually rank just behind Luther in German religious history, the founding father of a movement commonly known as “the Second Reformation.” While Spener founded no new denomination, Pietism’s influence would stretch far in space—everywhere from South Asia to North America—and time, even to evangelicalism today.
…Spener’s reforms were pastoral, practical, and easily adapted to different contexts. However radical they may have been at the time, they soon entered the religious mainstream.
It was encouraging to see some early Twitter reactions; clearly, I’m not the only person who cherishes Spener’s most famous book.
You can read the full profile here.