The Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity, By Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie III
The Pietist Option
  • Length: 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: October 03, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5194
  • ISBN: 9780830851942

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Historian Mark Noll has written that historic Pietism "breathed a badly needed vitality" into post-Reformation Europe. Now the time has come for Pietism to revitalize Christianity in post-Christendom America.

In The Pietist Option, Christopher Gehrz, a historian of Pietism, and Mark Pattie, a pastor in the Pietist tradition, show how Pietism holds great promise for the church—and the world—today. Modeled after Philipp Spener's 1675 classic, Pia Desideria, this timely book makes a case for the vitality of Pietism in our day.

Taking a hard look at American evangelicalism and why it needs renewal, Gehrz and Pattie explore the resources that Pietism can provide the church of the twenty-first century. This concise and winsome volume serves as a practical guide to the Pietist ethos for life and ministry, pointing us toward the renewal so many long for.

The Pietist Option introduces Pietism to those who don't know it—and reintroduces it to those who perceive it as an outdated and inward-focused spirituality, a nitpicking divisiveness, or an anti-intellectual withdrawal. With its emphasis on our walk with Jesus and its vibrant hope for a better future, Pietism connects decisively with the ideas and issues of our day. Here is a revitalizing option for all who desire to be faithful and fruitful in God's mission.

"In an age in which the church is badly divided by politics and culture wars, The Pietist Option offers a better way. Chris Gehrz and Mark Pattie invite us to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage defined by loving our neighbors, living in hope, and listening to God. It is indeed time to reconsider the Pietist roots of American evangelicalism."

John Fea, Messiah College, author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

"Warning! The cheeky title of this book is misleading. You'll find no snark here, no polemics. If you're looking for a pugnacious encounter, go elsewhere. What you will find here is an immensely winsome vision, drawing on the riches of the Pietist tradition but addressed to all who seek 'to live as if Jesus Christ has actually conquered the grave.'"

John Wilson, editor, Education & Culture

"One of my mentors used to describe himself as 'a Pietist with a PhD.' After reading The Pietist Option, I know more deeply what he meant, and I realize more clearly why his winsome spirit won my heart. This book invites us all into a more just and generous way of following Christ in today's world."

Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

"The Pietist Option is a timely historical reminder deserving careful attention from today's church. So much emphasis is now given to getting words right, whether in doctrine or in divisive positions on social issues. It's far more important to get the lives of believers right, with a faith that integrates body, mind, and spirit. The Pietists understood this. We should learn that a warm and spiritually vital faith in Christ doesn't withdraw from the world in forms of spiritual escapism during times of political strife and social upheaval, but leads to creative engagement in society with the liberating love of God. Further, the Pietists saw the urgent need, in their turbulent time, for the unity of the church, not accomplished through arguments over doctrine but in the heartfelt bonds of shared faith. The church can be enriched by an informed reconsideration of the Pietist movement, which this book provides."

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary emeritus, Reformed Church in America, author of From Times Square to Timbuktu

"For many people, both inside and outside communities of faith, Christianity has become captive to blind allegiances that are driven more by fear than a concern for justice, more interested in building walls than expressing love and solidarity with neighbors who are different. If the church is going to break the stranglehold of these allegiances so that loyalty to Jesus and the kingdom he preached is placed back at the center of the life of faith, then the Pietist vision offered here will surely play an important role. Gehrz and Pattie offer a clear-eyed vision of faithful practice fired by the hope of the gospel that animated the original 'Pietist option,' and they do so without slavishly repeating seventeenth-century proposals. What is offered here is a compelling and practical vision that is geared toward our own contemporary challenges and context. This is a timely and much-needed work that should be warmly embraced by Christians from across the spectrum."

Christian T. Collins Winn, Bethel University, coauthor of Reclaiming Pietism

"This is a very helpful book, introducing and reintroducing historical pietism to the contemporary church. Grounded in history, as it is modeled after Philipp Jacob Spener's Pia Desideria, it is pastorally wise, sensitive, and missionally relevant. Pietism offers a vital faith for the head, the heart, and the hands. Perhaps this provocative and winsome book will allow us to claim a usable past to further the mission and ministry of the church today."

David W. Kersten, dean of North Park Theological Seminary, VP of church relations, North Park University

"Mark and Chris love God, the church, and the world. Here they ponder, Does warmhearted Pietism have something to offer in a world of overheated debates? This book offers no certain paths forward, but it does remind us that Pietism, with its emphases on a living personal faith, deep commitment to wanting to be guided by Scripture, engaging in mission to the world, and generous fellowship, just might have something to offer."

Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church

"This is a timely book. The issues that led to the Pietist movement are present in different forms in the church today. Church attendance and participation are declining. A growing portion of the emerging generation finds little value in what the church seems to offer. For many, the evangelical expression of the church has become a political movement more than a source of life-giving hope. This book offers an alternative with roots in an earlier movement where faith is a relationship, not merely a philosophy of life. The following quote from the book captures the essence: 'That's primarily how Pietists know God: not through propositions (what we believe about the idea of God), but prepositions (how we relate to the person of God), as we experience a living faith through Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel, God with us.'"

Glenn R. Palmberg, president emeritus, Evangelical Covenant Church

"The Pietist Option is historically faithful, biblically rooted, and encouraging. Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie III help us see how Christ-followers in past centuries faced challenging issues in ways that are relevant to current events. Gehrz has meaningfully elevated Bethel University's Pietist roots to current day relevance as we commit to engage the world's most challenging problems, to God's glory and for our neighbors' good. The Pietist Option has wisdom for the church, the academy, and the neighborhood. I'm thankful for this resource."

Jay Barnes, president, Bethel University

"For anyone interested in the direction of the American evangelical church, The Pietist Option offers an inviting, charming vision for reaching into our past to shape our future."

Daniel Camp, Baptist Standard, October 19, 2017

"The Pietist Option introduces Pietism to those who don't know it—and reintroduces it to those who perceive it as an outdated and inward-focused spirituality, a nitpicking divisiveness, or an anti-intellectual withdrawal. With its emphasis on our walk with Jesus and its vibrant hope for a better future, Pietism connects decisively with the ideas and issues of our day. Here is a revitalizing option for all who desire to be faithful and fruitful in God’s mission."

in All things, December 8, 2017


Introduction: "Come Back to Jesus"

Part I: Christianity in the Early Twenty-First Century
1. What's Wrong?
2. Hoping for Better Times

Part II: Proposals for Renewal
3. A More Extensive Listening to the Word of God
4. The Common Priesthood for the Common Good
5. Christianity as Life
6. The Irenic Spirit: Unity, Mission, and Witness
7. Whole-Person, Whole-Life Formation
8. Proclaiming the Good News

Benediction: "Like a Tree Planted by Water"
Appendix: Learn More About Pietism
Study Guide
Name Index
Scripture Index


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Christopher Gehrz

Christopher Gehrz (PhD, Yale) is professor of history and chair of the history department at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he also helps coordinate the Christianity and Western Culture program and contributes to the program's podcast. He is the editor of The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education and coeditor of The Pietist Impulse in Christianity.

Mark Pattie III

Mark Pattie III is senior pastor at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, Minnesota. Mark is a member of the Board of the Ordered Ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church, and previously of its Board of Christian Education and Discipleship. He has served churches coast to coast and as a leadership consultant for pastors, churches, and corporate executives.