A "dialect" of Christianity with an influence still widely recognizable in Western Christianity in the late 20th century, characterized by a type of self-centered view of the world criticized by many as bordering on selfishness and an unfortunate notion that suffering in this world is God's will, rather than following Christ's example of servant leadership, a leading away from and out of suffering. Christ did more than pray to God, he sought his father's guidance and translated that into real and direct action.

In Called to Freedom (1980, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia), Daniel L. Migliore reviews some of the characteristics, problems, and redeeming ideas associated with pietism, excerpted here:

...pietism concentrated on the meaning of the Bible for the individual's salvation... What is significant to faith is not the crucifixion of Jesus as a bare historical fact but the message that Christ died for me. There is truth in this emphasis on the "for me" of the scriptural witness, but it is distorted when it is separated from the meaning of Scripture "for us" and "for the world."

...In the exodus God is identified not as a metaphysical absolute nor as the savior of souls but as the liberator of a people. When Israel experienced captivity again in later centuries, the promises of the prophets were cast in the image of a second exodus (Isa. 51:9-11). This new exodus would eventuate in a comprehensive and universal liberation to include not only Israel but all peoples... Jesus' forgiveness of sinners, his table fellowship with despised people, his ministry to the poor and the sick, and finally his crucifixion and resurrection, constitute an anticipatory realization of God's kingdom of freedom, justice, and peace throughout the world. The biblical story of liberation summons us not only to be the free persons we have been enabled to be through Christ but also to serve the cause of the liberation of all people in all dimensions of life.

Pi"e*tism (?), n. [Cf. G. pietismus, F. pi'etisme.]


The principle or practice of the Pietists.


Strict devotion; also, affectation of devotion.

The Schone Seele, that ideal of gentle pietism, in "Wilhelm Meister." W. Pater.


© Webster 1913.

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