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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: January 2020

19 - Pietism

from Part III - Protestantism


Chapter 19 analyses the approaches to justification found within the movement known as ‘Pietism’, which is generally regarded as a reaction against the excessive cerebralism of the theology of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Pietism developed a focus on a ‘living faith’ and the ‘new birth’, which countered a more intellectual and institutionalised account of the Christian faith dominant in German Lutheranism in the late seventeenth century. Pietist theologians and pastors – such as Philipp Jakob Spener – were suspicious of the Lutheran notion of ‘imputed righteousness’, which they considered as being destructive of piety. These concerns were developed in the writings of both John Wesley and Charles Wesley, who urged the importance of moving beyond purely forensic approaches to justification. John Wesley argued that the notion of ‘the imputed righteousness of Christ’ was neither Scriptural nor necessary, and was damaging to personal holiness. For Wesley, the ‘plain scriptural notion of justification’ is pardon or the forgiveness of sins.