This book examines the influence of religion, particularly Pietism, among Pennsylvania Germans during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In Pennsylvania, a pluralistic populationfrom hermits who opposed all church structure to traditionalists seeking to recreate Europe's ecclesiologycoexisted despite disagreements. With such diversity differences were almost inevitable, but all fellowships, even those who disdained the mainstream, enjoyed tolerance, and Pennsylvania came to resemble a quilt or rainbow rather than a melting pot, much like the patchwork pattern in modern America. Much of Pennsylvania's tolerance stemmed from Pietism, or the doctrine of the new birth, which permeated popular thought, inspiring believers as disparate as Mennonites and Amish, multi-ethnic Lutheran congregations, and campmeeting enthusiasts. Pietists taught that God democratically offered salvation to every man and woman who chose to accept it, thereby eroding religious intolerance. Pennsylvania Germans, therefore, created a religious landscape characterized by division yet with a level of tolerance that promoted understanding between denominations. Many Pennsylvania Christians lived together and often cooperated with one another despite their differences.
About the Author
Stephen L. Longenecker is an Assistant Professor of History at Bridgewater College in Virginia. He is also the author of The Christopher Sauers and Selma's Peacemaker: Ralph Smeltzer and Civil Rights Mediation.
What People are Saying About This
Longenecker's defense of German Protestantism is a welcome addition to recent "decentering" projects seeking a new narrative to describe the development of religion in America.