Global Christianity Philip Jacob Spener
(1635 - 1705)
Global Christianity

Leader of German pietism and author of Pia Desideria.

Philip Spener

Philip Jacob Spener was born in Alsace and educated at Strasbourg. He had completed his doctoral dissertation and was prepared to teach, but instead served as a pastor in Frankfurt. The deadness and moral laxity of the congregation moved him to offer a specific program for change, spelled out in Pia Desideria, or "Pious Desires," first published in 1675. This controversial writing marks the birth of Pietism as a renewal movement within Lutheranism and beyond it. Pia Desideria's five proposals were: 1) greater use of Scripture; 2) lay participation in the life of the church through small groups for prayer and Bible study; 3) balance of doing and believing in the Christian life; 4) ministerial training in piety as well as academics; 5) sermons which encourage a living, active faith. Spener prized the theology of Martin Luther; at the same time he charged scholasticism with codifying Lutheran theology and neglecting the Christian life. Among those influenced by Spener was John Wesley (1703-1791), whose Methodist movement also used small groups and lay leadership. Spener was a forerunner of the modern small group movement.

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