What are the Basic Features of Pietizm?June 29, 2021
As a result of a large number of new researches on pietism, there has been a tendency to expand the term pietism today.
According to those who hold this view, there are motifs involving similar religious considerations, which can be understood as an extension of the same movement, in Protestants as well as particularly in Reformed and some other Christian communities. For example, those who felt the lack of moral obligation and religious commitment within churches of that day questioned the need for any form of formal church devotion.
Pietists, following Spener’s footsteps, advocated a religious understanding formed within the soul’s own structure, rather than a claim of divine revelation in line with the teachings of an authoritarian Church. The religion of the Pietists was based on the establishment of a new life by small groups of men and women, devoted to their cause. Repentance, conversion, guidance, worship and morality were the basic concepts of this religion. From this point of view, pietism is an attempt to revive Christianity as an active religion. They believed that they could achieve this result through two means, prayer and the reading of the Bible.
Since these ideas found expression in Protestant circles, however, the classical phase of the Pietist movement can be regarded, roughly speaking, as a phenomenon concerning the Protestant interpretation of Christianity in the early 17th and late 18th centuries. Therefore, its borders can be taken from the settled Lutheran belief period after the Reformation to the age of enlightenment. However, Pietism, in the sense of being a secret movement that advocates understanding religion on its own and has effects in the wide fragmentation of Protestantism, has never lost its existence as a historical reality.
Pietism symbolizes a deviation from the superficial practice and dogmatic tendencies of Protestantism. The Pietists wanted emotion to be at the forefront of the Christian experience. They were also on the side of the secularists, whom they wanted to be active in building the Christian life. They were telling that a strict, ascetic attitude should be taken towards worldly pleasures. Spener, for example, advised people to be moderate in eating, drinking and dressing, rejected the theater, which Lutheran considered unimportant, and despised dance and card games. For this reason, Pietism has often been accused of going to extremes, making theology a highly subjective matter, and dulling the value of pure doctrines.
Since the early periods of Christianity, there have been movements and people emphasizing the experience dimension of religion and mystical life. In this context, many factors played a role in the rise of pietism in the Christian tradition. However, it is really difficult to trace and detect them in all their details. However, the main features of the movement, which can be distinguished from others, can be determined in relation to its classical phase. The Pietists of that time believed that piety within the Christian tradition, if it were to have any meaning, must, and must, revive the fully religious life of the individual believer. Pietism finally proclaimed a new individualism. Religion should no longer be a matter of concern only to theologians and clergy. It was the common heritage of all people motivated to find God. It was the duty of all Christians to protect this heritage and provide religious revival.
According to the Pietists, experiencing a major revival depended on not following any time-lapsed model. But it also had to involve a conscious change in man’s relationship with God, so as to bring about divine forgiveness and the acceptance of prayers. Because according to them, the Christianity that will show itself in life is a true and sincere Christianity. The beginning of Christianity is a spiritual transformation, a conscious rebirth. Therefore, in order for a rebirth to occur, it was necessary for the individual to suffer, to truly regret, and to be conscious of the propositions he believed in. The fruit of such a revival had to become visible in the form of piety. In other words, it was necessary to lead a life dominated by love for God and human beings, and a strong and vibrant feeling of God’s presence at all times.
Pietists’ thoughts on experiencing religion individually and living a righteous life in line with the will of the Gospel and Jesus Christ have also shaped their understanding of theology and especially their view of the relationship between reason-faith, faith-action. Pietists equated theology with the doctrine of salvation by faith, or salvation by faith, hence Christianity. Faith and Christianity should not be seen as the result and fruit of theology, but as two basic concepts that form the essence of theology. This understanding was also an indication of their tendency to make every Christian a theologian and to diminish the importance of the Christian clergy. According to Pietists, self-imposed as a life