Pietism - American Education
Originally, a movement that split the German Lutheran Church of the 17th and 18th centuries into so-called Old Light and New Light factions that differed over the role of the church as an intermediary between man and God. Not unlike Quakers in outlook, pietist Lutherans were the first German settlers in Pennsylvania in the 17th century and believed strongly in secular education. When transplanted to the American colonies, however, the pietist movement spread to other major Protestant religions, including Congregationalism and Presbyterianism. Pietism split these other churches into Old Light church loyalists and New Light pietists who believed that Godliness and grace must come from within through a personal “conversion” rather than through the rituals of an organized church. Initially, pietism divided not only the churches but also their educational institutions. The result was a near-doubling of the number of churches and religious colleges.
Eventually the pietists themselves split, with the most fundamentalist pietists helping to spawn the Great Awakening and the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian movement. Pietism derives its name from the collegia pietatis, or devotional meetings held by Philipp Jakob Spener (1635–1705), a pastor and president of the Lutheran Church of Frankfurt am Main. At his meetings, he suggested that religious faith must be generated from within and cannot be imposed by the formal teachings of the church. Participants remained tied to their church but added individual Bible study and group discussions to their traditional worship, and the practice quickly spread throughout Germany.
(See also NEW LIGHT–OLD LIGHT CONTROVERSY.)