“The narrative surrounding Charles Lindbergh’s life has been as varying and complex as the man himself. Once best known as an aviator—the first to complete a solo nonstop transatlantic flight—he has since become increasingly identified with his sympathies for white supremacy, eugenics, and the Nazi regime in Germany. Underexplored amid all this is Lindbergh’s spiritual life; what beliefs drove the contradictory impulses of this twentieth-century icon?
An apostle of technological progress who encountered God in the wildernesses he sought to protect, an anti-Semitic opponent of US intervention in World War II who had a Jewish scripture inscribed on his gravestone, and a critic of Christianity who admired Christ, Lindbergh defies conventional categories. But spirituality undoubtedly mattered to him a great deal. Influenced by his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh—a self-described “lapsed Presbyterian” who longed to live “in grace”—and friends like Alexis Carrel (a Nobel Prize-winning surgeon, eugenicist, and Catholic mystic) and Jim Newton (an evangelical businessman), he spent much of his adult life reflecting on mortality, divinity, and metaphysics. In this short biography, Christopher Gehrz represents Lindbergh as he was, neither an adherent nor a skeptic, a historical case study of an increasingly familiar contemporary phenomenon: the “spiritual but not religious.”
For all his earnest curiosity, Lindbergh remained unwilling throughout his life to submit to any spiritual authority beyond himself and ultimately rejected the ordering influence of church, tradition, scripture, or creed. In the end, the man who flew solo across the Atlantic insisted on charting his own spiritual path, drawing on multiple sources in such a way that satisfied his spiritual hunger but left some of his cruelest convictions unchallenged.”
Christopher Gehrz’s tough-minded yet open curiosity about Charles Lindbergh’s perturbing spirituality—an amorphous Jesus and nebulous Christianity melded with pantheistic religiosities, eugenics, antisemitism, White supremacy, and American nationalism—brings forth a religious biography as compelling as it is fascinating. An absorbing, necessary American read. (Jon Butler, Yale University; former president, Organization of American Historians)
Publisher’s description: “Join over forty Christian historians as they journey through the biblical and historical past, reading God’s word in light of the experiences of those made in God’s image. Along with an invitation to study Scripture from Genesis through Revelation, Faith and History: A Devotional provides a link between modern Christians and faithful believers from the past—reminding us of all we share in our faith in the present day, as well as how different were the past worlds of our sisters and brothers in Christ.”
Gentle and wise, these meditations serve a trusted guide through key scriptures and their legacies. This volume has brought together brilliant authors to dig deep into texts and pull out hidden gems and spiritual insights which will nourish our souls and minds. If you ever wanted your smartest friend to lead you in spiritual reflection, this is it. (Kate Bowler, Duke Divinity School; author, Everything Happens for a Reason)
I truly enjoyed these daily devotional readings. Each of these impressively thoughtful historians reflects on an example from their studies that illustrates a biblical principle. This is a particularly fine volume for anyone who appreciates history or is considering why Christians should study history. (George Marsden, University of Notre Dame; author, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship)
These brilliant meditations on Scripture testify to the power of historical reflection for supporting the vital work of calling Christian believers to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. They instruct, chasten, unsettle, and console. Authored by some of today’s most thoughtful Christian historians, this collection masterfully displays the integration of keen and learned historical insight with genuine, warm-hearted devotion to Jesus. (Jay Green, Covenant College; author, Christian Historiography)
IVP Academic, October 2017
Publisher’s description: “In The Pietist Option, Christopher Gehrz, a historian of Pietism, and Mark Pattie, a pastor in the Pietist tradition, show how Pietism holds great promise for the church—and the world—today. Modeled after Philipp Spener’s 1675 classic, Pia Desideria, this timely book makes a case for the vitality of Pietism in our day.”
In an age in which the church is badly divided by politics and culture wars, The Pietist Option offers a better way. Chris Gehrz and Mark Pattie invite us to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage defined by loving our neighbors, living in hope, and listening to God. It is indeed time to reconsider the Pietist roots of American evangelicalism. (John Fea, Messiah College; author, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?)
Like any system of belief, the parts work in relationship to each other. Commitment to unity without a commitment to the authority of Scripture quickly leads to authoritarianism. Individual faith without commitment to unity ends up prioritizing personal needs above both Scripture and fellow believers. In this sense, Gehrz and Pattie’s thesis calls for a return to basics, embodying one of the key instincts of Pietism itself: The Christian life is both simpler and more radical than you know. (Hannah Anderson, Christianity Today)
Warning! The cheeky title of this book is misleading. You’ll find no snark here, no polemics. If you’re looking for a pugnacious encounter, go elsewhere. What you will find here is an immensely winsome vision, drawing on the riches of the Pietist tradition but addressed to all who seek “to live as if Jesus Christ has actually conquered the grave.” (John Wilson, editor, Education & Culture)
For many people, both inside and outside communities of faith, Christianity has become captive to blind allegiances that are driven more by fear than a concern for justice, more interested in building walls than expressing love and solidarity with neighbors who are different. If the church is going to break the stranglehold of these allegiances so that loyalty to Jesus and the kingdom he preached is placed back at the center of the life of faith, then the Pietist vision offered here will surely play an important role. Gehrz and Pattie offer a clear-eyed vision of faithful practice fired by the hope of the gospel that animated the original ‘Pietist option,’ and they do so without slavishly repeating seventeenth-century proposals. What is offered here is a compelling and practical vision that is geared toward our own contemporary challenges and context. This is a timely and much-needed work that should be warmly embraced by Christians from across the spectrum. (Christian Collins Winn, Bethel University; co-author, Reclaiming Pietism)
A final reason why The Pietist Option so deeply resonated with me is its Jesus-centeredness. The entire program of Pietism, if program is the right term, can be summarized in four words: Come back to Jesus…. my guess is that Pietism doubts Christian ideas and reforms will work if Christians themselves don’t first and foremost have a living trust in Jesus. (George P. Wood, Influence Magazine)
Learn more here.
Finalist for the 2015 Lilly Fellows Program Book Award
Finalist for the 2015 InterVarsity Press Readers’ Choice Awards
Publisher’s description: “In this groundbreaking volume, scholars associated with the Pietist tradition reflect on the Pietist approach to education. Key themes include holistic formation, humility and openmindedness, the love of neighbor, concern for the common good and spiritual maturity. Pietism sees the Christian college as a place that forms whole and holy persons. In a pluralistic and polarized society, such a vision is needed now more than ever.”
These thoughtful essays, representing many different academic disciplines, will hopefully usher Pietism back into evangelical discussions about faith and learning. They surely will inspire readers to think anew about the realities and ideals of Christ-centered higher education in the current age of ‘spiritual but not religious’ students. (Douglas Jacobsen & Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Messiah College)
Channeling the insights of their German and Scandinavian forebears, Christopher Gehrz and his colleagues articulate a fresh understanding of Christian higher education. Emphasizing the religious virtues of humility and love, they show why Pietism’s irenic sensibility is the perfect antidote to today’s culture wars. (John Schmalzbauer, Missouri State University)
Evangelical thinking on these matters takes a quantum leap with this volume. (Amos Yong, Fuller Theological Seminary)
…a significant work in that it defines and explains an underemphasized and even under-recognized tradition in Christian higher education. Editor Christopher Gehrz and his colleagues articulate what Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen have shown before: that the widely celebrated “integration of faith and learning” concept is not the only viable model for explaining the mission of the Christian academy. (William Ringenberg, Taylor University)
The breadth of expertise [of the contributors] serves to reinforce the underlying thesis of the book: the Pietistic traditions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany, nineteenth-century Sweden, and twentieth-century Minnesota can provide a “usable past” with which Christian colleges and universities in the twenty-first century can navigate the many challenges facing higher education. (Brant Himes, Azusa Pacific University)
…a refreshing blend of both theory and practice. (Jennifer Miller, Normandale Community College)
What Gehrz and other Bethel faculty members have managed to do… is remarkable. They have engaged and inspired Covenant scholars, as well as Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and several other traditions, in an ongoing discussion of the “useable past” that can be found in Pietism as it appears in the background of the history of American Christianity. (Mark Safstrom, University of Illinois-Champaign)
Learn more here.
Publisher’s description: “…scholars from a variety of disciplines offer a corrective to this misunderstanding, highlighting the profound theological, cultural, and spiritual contribution of Pietism and what they term the ‘pietist impulse.’ The essays in this volume demonstrate that Pietism was a movement of great depth and originality that was not merely concerned with the ‘pious soul and its God.'”
Understanding Pietism is critical for grasping the modern manifestations of Protestantism in Europe and North America. This impressive volume illustrates both the diversity and range of American research on Pietism and its promise for scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. (Hartmut Lehmann, Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte)
The editors of The Pietist Impulse have assembled a deep and far-ranging collection on an important theme in the history and practice of Christianity. Leading scholars from a variety of fields investigate a unifying theme in a refreshing number of methodological, chronological, and geographic permutations. These works demonstrate the vitality, the centrality, and the many possibilities of Pietist studies today. (Kate Carté Engel, Southern Methodist University)
Learn more here.
Selected Articles Available Online
- Biannual columns in Pietisten
- “Philipp Jakob Spener,” Christianity Today (April 26, 2019)
- “Do This in Remembrance,” Christianity Today (May 29, 2017)
- “‘We Will Remember Them,'” Books & Culture (January 2016, web-only)
- “Hearts Strangely Warmed,” Books & Culture (September/October 2015): 24-25.
- “Role of Pietist Universities: To Form Whole and Holy Persons,” The Covenant Companion, Sept. 2, 2015
- “Faith-Filled Tradition, New Vision,” Bethel Magazine (Summer 2015): 24-26.
- “An Immigrant Church,” Friends of Covenant History (Winter/Spring 2015): 3-4.
- Review of Douglas H. Shantz, An Introduction to German Pietism: Protestant Renewal at the Dawn of Modern Europe, in Mennonite Quarterly Review 88 (July 2014): 398-400.
- “Whole and Holy Persons: Pietism and Bethel University,” The Baptist Pietist Clarion 12 (March 2014): 3, 6.