Pietism has a negative connotation much of the time. But as I went through the book and heard the authors’ description of what they mean by pietism, I realized that I have some strong pietist leanings. And in some ways I think I am probably more accurately described as pietist than evangelical. Pietism is plagued, sometimes rightly, with a reputation for legalism. But pietism, like the term Methodist and Puritan and even Christian was a pejorative that was later adopted by the movement.
The Pietist Option’s title is riffing off of Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, but the book is much more influenced by Philipp Spener’s 1675 book, Pia Desideria, than a response to Dreher. The themes of that book, which really defined the pietist movement, are worked out here in a modern context.
Pietism, for the authors is focused on:
- A more extensive listening to the Word of God
- The common priesthood for the common good
- Christianity as life
- The irenic spirit
- Whole-person, whole-life formation
- Proclaiming the good news
The authors, a historian of Pietism and a pastor from a pietist influenced denomination, are writing pastorally more than academically. Their orientation is that reform and renewal need to be constant, but the tone and orientation of our faith as well as the visibility of our love for other Christians and those outside the faith needs to take on a greater prominence.