1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Spener, Philipp Jakob
SPENER, PHILIPP JAKOB (1635-1705), German theologian, was born on the 13th of January 1635, at Rappoltsweiler in Upper Alsace. After a brief stay in the grammar school of Colmar he went to Strassburg in 1651, where he devoted himself to the study of philology, history and philosophy, and won his degree of master (1653) by a disputation against the philosophy of Hobbes. He then became private tutor to the princes Christian and Charles of the Palatinate, and lectured in the university on philology and history. From 1659 to 1662 he visited the universities of Basel, Tübingen and Geneva, and commenced the study of heraldry, which he pursued throughout his life. In Geneva especially his religious views and tendencies were turned in the direction of mysticism. He returned to Strassburg in 1663, where he was appointed preacher without pastoral duties, with the right of holding lectures. Three years afterwards he was invited to become the chief pastor in the Lutheran Church at Frankfort-on-Main. Here he published his two chief works, Pia desideria (1675) and Allgemeine Gottesgelehrtheit (1680), and began that form of pastoral work which resulted in the movement called Pietism. In 1686 he accepted the invitation to the first court chaplaincy at Dresden. But the elector John George III., at whose personal desire the post had been offered to him, was soon offended at the fearless conscientiousness with which his chaplain sought to discharge his pastoral duties. Spener refused to resign his post, and the Saxon government hesitated to dismiss him. But in 1691 the Saxon representative at Berlin induced the court of Brandenburg to offer him the rectorship of St Nicholas in Berlin with the title of “Konsistorialrat.” In Berlin Spener was held in high honour, though the tendencies of the court and the government officials were rather rationalistic than pietistic. The university of Halle was founded under his influence in 1694. All his life long Spener had been exposed to the attacks and abuse of the orthodox Lutheran theologians; with his years his opponents multiplied, and the movement which he had inaugurated presented increasingly matter for hostile criticism. In 1695 the theological faculty of Wittenberg formally laid to his charge 264 errors, and only his death on the 5th of February, 1705, released him from these fierce conflicts. His last important work was Theologische Bedenken (4 vols., 1700-1702), to which was added after his death Letzte theologische Bedenken, with a biography of Spener by C. H. von Canstein (1711).
faith of his day were the requirement of regeneration as the sine qua non of the true theologian, and the expectation of the conversion of the Jews and the fall of Papacy as the prelude of the triumph of the church. He did not, like the later Pietists, insist on the necessity of a conscious crisis of conversion, nor did he encourage a complete breach between the Christian and the secularlife.