What about the pietists?

Over at the Pietist Schoolman, Chris Gehrz wonders about the pietists in the evangelical left. Specifically, what about Chicago Declaration signers like Paul Rees, F. Burton Nelson, and other persons associated with the Evangelical Covenant Church? Could they have provided another case study of ethnic evangelicals–alongside Swiss-German Anabaptists, the Dutch Reformed, and two-thirds world evangelicals from around the world–who helped shape progressive evangelicalism?

Absolutely! In fact, I thought seriously about adding such chapter. Another related group with similar concerns would have been the Wesleyan holiness camp, with which Rees also related. Additions such as these, had there been more space and had I been a bit more attentive, could have helpfully fleshed out the ways in which practices of piety such as prayer and confession anchored the evangelical left’s social concern. Paul Rees’s 1973 address at the Thanksgiving Workshop in Chicago, which Chris describes, was one of the those moments.

Thanks for the thoughtful review of Moral Minority, Chris! I hope to meet you someday soon.

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2 Comments on “What about the pietists?”

  1. Chris Gehrz says:

    My pleasure, David – and thanks for linking back to my post! As you note, Rees was rooted in the Holiness tradition (grew up Pilgrim Holiness, I believe, and spoke often at Keswick), so I’m not entirely sure whether he’d accept the label of Pietist, as so many other Covenant leaders did at the time and have to the present day. But the leading roles played by Dale Brown and Don Dayton perhaps more clearly suggest a Pietist influence at Chicago — they were in the process of popularizing that tradition’s history for Anglophone audiences. And as Brown later told it, Pietism and Anabaptism became a helpful dialectic for him – keeping all the elements of Shalom in balance. I’ve got an article on this coming out in Covenant Quarterly next year; see http://pietistschoolman.com/2011/07/27/anabaptist-and-pietist for a preview of the section on Brown. Deeply appreciative for the work you’re doing, and brainstorming ways to bring you to Bethel for a day or two…

  2. Thanks for the background on Rees and Brown. I’ll look forward to reading your article in Covenant Quarterly. I’d love to visit Bethel sometime. I hope it works out sometime.


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