Spener grew up under strong religious influences, including the writings of the German mystic Johan Arndt and the English Puritans. Later, at the University of Strassburg, he met professors who introduced him to Luther and understood justification by faith, not simply as a doctrine but as a spiritual rebirth.
After three years in a pastorate as Strassburg, Spener accepted a call to the important Lutheran city of Frankfort. He was shocked by the conditions in the town. He abandoned the prescribed texts and began to preach from the whole Bible, calling for repentance and discipleship. For several years nothing earth-shaking happened. Then in 1669, he preached from the Sermon on the Mount and response was sudden and surprising. People were converted and family life changed.
Spener gathered a little company of dedicated believers in his house twice weekly for reading of Scripture and religious conversation. These meetings were soon called in scorn "gatherings of the pious," and "Pietism" was born.
In 1686 Spener accepted a call to become court preacher at Dresden. But because of his uncompromising preaching he was often in trouble with the authorities, and in 1692 he welcomed an invitation from the elector of Brandenburg to move on to Berlin. That same year he persuaded Frederick, the future king of Prussia, to invite August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) to become a professor at the new University of Halle. In this Spener showed great wisdom and humility. Francke soon rose to leadership of the Pietist movement, though Spener continued writing and preaching until his death in February, 1705.
[tags]August-Hermann-Francke, BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Philip-Spener[/tags]