Pietism was an influential movement within Lutheranism that combined Lutheran emphasis on Biblical doctrine with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life. Although the movement was active exclusively within Lutheranism, it had a impact on Protestantism worldwide, particularly in North America. Pietism spread from Germany to Switzerland and the rest of German-speaking Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics, and it was further taken to North America, primarily by German and Scandinavian immigrants. The movement reached its zenith in the century, and declined through the 19th century. A substantial part of the Pietistic Protestants was formed by German Sectarians, Norwegian Lutherans, Swedish Lutherans, as the forerunners of the Pietists in the strict sense, certain voices had been heard bewailing the shortcomings of the Church and advocating a revival of practical and devout Christianity. The direct originator of the movement was Philipp Jakob Spener and he studied theology at Strasbourg, where the professors at the time were more inclined to practical Christianity than to theological disputation. In 1675, Spener published his Pia desideria or Earnest Desire for a Reform of the True Evangelical Church and this was originally a pejorative term given to the adherents of the movement by its enemies as a form of ridicule, like that of Methodists somewhat later in England. While large numbers of orthodox Lutheran theologians and pastors were deeply offended by Speners book, in 1686 Spener accepted an appointment to the court-chaplaincy at Dresden, which opened to him a wider though more difficult sphere of labor. In Leipzig, a society of young theologians was formed under his influence for the learned study, the theological chairs in the new university were filled in complete conformity with Speners proposals. Orthodox Lutherans rejected this viewpoint as a simplification, stressing the need for the church. Spener died in 1705, but the movement, guided by Francke and fertilized from Halle, spread through the whole of Middle, Spener stressed the necessity of a new birth and separation of Christians from the world. Many Pietists maintained that the new birth always had to be preceded by agonies of repentance, the whole school shunned all common worldly amusements, such as dancing, the theatre, and public games. Some believe this led to a new form of justification by works and its ecclesiolae in ecclesia also weakened the power and meaning of church organization. These Pietistic attitudes caused a counter-movement at the beginning of the 18th century, one leader was Valentin Ernst Löscher, a movement which cultivated religious feeling almost as an end itself. Yet some claim that Pietism contributed largely to the revival of Biblical studies in Germany and to making religion once more an affair of the heart and of life and it likewise gave a new emphasis to the role of the laity in the church. Then came a time when another intellectual power took possession of the minds of men, bonhoeffer denounced the basic aim of Pietism, to produce a desired piety in a person, as unbiblical. Pietism is considered the influence that led to the creation of the Evangelical Church of the Union in Prussia in 1817. The King of Prussia ordered the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia to unite and this union movement spread through many German lands in the 1800s
Pietistic frugality, humility, restraint, sense of duty and order has been a strong cultural and religious influence in Scandinavia.
Philipp Spener (1635–1705), the "Father of Pietism", is considered the founder of the movement.