Piety, Narrative, and Christian Identity

Ronald F. Thiemann

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 4/1/1983

Issue: Piety (Vol. 3, No 2, Spring, 1983)

It may be that the term “piety” is no longer useful to describe the authentic spiritual life, but there are aspects of the term’s 17th century usage that deserve our careful attention. Spener’s central teaching was that “it is by no means enough to have knowledge of the Christian faith, for Christianity consists rather of practice.” It is this key claim of pietism—that Christianity is essentially a practice—that I want to investigate in this essay. If Christianity is a practice, then the formation of the Christian life becomes the central task of the Christian community. I want to examine the relation between theology and Christian practice—or more precisely stated, between Christian theorizing and the formation of Christian identity.

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