Spener, Philipp Jakob (fēˈlĭp yäˈkôp shpāˈnər) [key], 1635–1705, German theologian, founder of Pietism. He was pastor of the Lutheran church at Frankfurt in 1670 when, to counteract the barren intellectualism of prevailing orthodoxy, he instituted meetings for fellowship and Bible study. These Collegia Pietatis led to a religious revival in many German states. His book, Pia desideria (1675), contained proposals for the reconstruction of the church. Spener became court chaplain at Dresden in 1686, but he aroused the opposition of the clergy and the elector and in 1691 accepted the rectorship at St. Nicholas, Berlin. Spener aided in the founding of the Univ. of Halle in 1694, and later, through the activities of his disciple August Hermann Francke, the city of Halle became a center of Pietism. The orthodox Lutheran clergy had continuously resented Spener's criticism and influence, and in 1695 the theological faculty at Wittenberg made formal charges against him. In spite of this opposition Spener's ideas spread to many congregations throughout Germany and in other parts of Europe.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.