Review Of "Piety And Tolerance: Pennsylvania German Religion, 1700-1850" By S. L. Longenecker

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In this revised dissertation Longenecker argues that pietism, defined as an interior experience of God, shaped the religious life of Pennsylvania Germans and fostered tolerance. The treatment is chronological, with discussions of the Anabaptists, Dunkers, Mennonites, Moravians, Lutherans, Reformed, United Brethren, both Great Awakenings, temperance, and slavery. The book provides a good introduction to each religious group and provides an overview of the impact of pietism on each denomination. Although insisting that pietists shared similar religious experiences and downplayed formal theology, the author shows disputes and schisms over the nature of conversion, revivals, camp meetings, discipline, and the nature of the church. The book's depiction of pietism is so inclusive that it encompasses virtually all religious people, except for a few scholastic ministers. This broadness weakens its explanatory power. Unfortunately, Longenecker neglects political, social, and cultural influences on religious life and does not even assess either the impact of being German-speaking in a Quaker-dominated English colony or the American Revolution. A.G. Roeber's Palatines, Liberty, and Property (CH, Mar'94) provides a richer account of the varieties of European pietism that influenced Pennsylvania Lutherans. Still, Longenecker's account will prove valuable for scholars seeking to understand how pietism contributed to the development of religious liberty. Especially recommended for religion collections. Advanced undergraduate; graduate; faculty.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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