Safstrom, Mark

Mark Safstrom is Chief Editor of Pietisten, and teaches Swedish language and Scandinavian literature at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

"America is No Paradise" -- Paul Peter Waldenström and Social Justice (Summer 2006)

As the term “social justice” is gaining more usage in America, not least in the Covenant Church, it might be useful to discuss how well this concept fits the Covenant profile. Is it a buzz word that well-meaning Covenanters have picked up from mainstream culture and transplanted into the Covenant Church? Or is this new term, and the goals associated with it, in line with the unique Pietist history of the Covenant?

Pietism and Social Justice: The Legacy of Johann Arndt’s True Christianity (Christmas 2007)

In a previous article in Pietisten, I suggested that P.P. Waldenström’s commentary on North American society reflected some traditional Lutheran Pietist concerns for social justice. Prompted by a friend at Seattle First Covenant, this was expanded into a Sunday school series that traced the Covenant Church’s history of social ministries through its Pietist roots. This article is a summary of part one of that class.

The Pietist Impulse in Christianity Conference at Bethel (Summer 2009)

Phil Johnson and Mark Safstrom report from the Christianity Conference at Bethel.

The Calling of a Colporteur or What to Expect from “Pietisten 3.0” (Epiphany 2010)

As the incoming staff of Pietisten was busy at work publishing this current issue that you are now holding in your hands, we couldn’t help but chuckle about how quickly this change occurred, from Minneapolis to Seattle, from one generation to another. One year ago, none of us expected, nor had any aspirations of such a takeover. At the same time, once Phil started hinting that change was coming, and ambiguous conversations began about “who would pick up the reins next,” I think most of us were caught up in a great deal of anticipation. From the very beginning it seemed like a moment of serendipity…or maybe even Providence. For any of you Readers out there who at any point have had anxious thoughts about young whippersnappers tarnishing the good old name of Pietisten, you are invited here and now to put your minds at ease.

Welcome to the Conversation (Spring/Summer 2010)

Whether this is the first time you have opened the pages of Pietisten or you have been a faithful reader from the beginning, it is likely you are curious about a number of things regarding our journal. A few of the encouraging comments we have received make it clear that there is a great deal of interest in not only the journal itself, but in the broad tradition that we represent and seek to explore, namely Pietism.

Pietism (Spring/Summer 2010)

In the initial year of Pietisten in 1842, George Scott and C. O. Rosenius shared their thoughts on Pietism in a two-part article series, as an explanation for the founding of the newspaper. Part one is translated here from the Swedish by Mark Safstrom.

If we are the leaven, where is the lump? (Fall/Winter 2010)

Some of the early Pietists, as well as several other religious reform groups, drew on baking terminology to explain their perceived role within established churches. They came up with an oft-quoted analogy, in which they equated their zeal and piety with a “leaven” (a piece of fermenting dough) that would prompt Christians throughout the greater church, or the “lump” (the dough that has no catalyst), to rise.

Star of Bethlehem (Fall/Winter 2010)

Waldenström’s Commentary on the Psalms of David (Fall/Winter 2010)

Navigating in the Fog (Spring/Summer 2011)

A common thread in this issue of Pietisten is the attempt by several authors to engage this moving target of post-modernism.

The Sailor and the Wind (Spring/Summer 2011)

Conform No Longer – Be Renewed (Fall/Winter 2011)

An observation about teaching that I have heard several times is that you don’t know what you truly believe about a subject until you have to teach it. When we are in the role of a student listening to a lecture, we may listen or fall asleep, nod and look studious, agree or disagree, and then leave to learn another day.

Kierkegaard’s Abraham and the Lonely Leap of Faith (Fall/Winter 2011)

Søren Kierkegaard made a habit of keeping others at arm’s length. By the time he died he had generated critics and even some enemies in the Church of Denmark, humiliated himself in a newspaper feud, distanced himself from family members and broke off a promising engagement to the lovely Regine Olsen.

Advent is Here (Fall/Winter 2011)

A Pietist (Fall/Winter 2011)

In its initial year of publication in 1842, Pietisten presented a two-part article series as an explanation for the founding of the journal, titled “Pietism” and “A Pietist.” Part two is translated here from the Swedish.

Facing the Future Together (Fall/Winter 2011)

Find out the story behind the current merger of three Swedish denominations (Covenant, Baptist and Methodist churches). Reprinted from the October issue of The Covenant Companion.

The difference between seeing and seeing (Spring/Summer 2012)

In many places in the gospel, the disciples appear less as haloed saints, and more often as the very image of human frailty.

The Beggar Children (Spring/Summer 2012)

Arisen is the Christ (Spring/Summer 2012)

A place to stand (Fall/Winter 2012)

In the climate of dry humor in which I was raised, there was no shortage of historical quotes and proverbs shared, often creatively adapted to the situation at hand. The game was to use them incorrectly, but cleverly, so as to get a laugh.

At the change of the year (Fall/Winter 2012)

Perplexing and Amazing (Fall/Winter 2012)

Remember your teachers (Spring/Summer 2013)

When the revival preacher Carl Olof Rosenius died prematurely in 1868, many of the thousands of people who had come to depend on him as a teacher were doubtless at a loss for how to proceed. In this moment of crisis, two women stepped in to offer their services in processing this great loss, as well as to begin to explain the significance of Rosenius’s life and point the way forward for the revival movement.

In God my soul rests as on placid water (Spring/Summer 2013)

Do what little you can (Spring/Summer 2013)

Elaine M. Lundberg (Spring/Summer 2013)

Elaine Marilyn Pearson was born in Swedeburg, Nebraska, to Victor and Esther Pearson, and grew up on the family corn farm along with two sisters and two brothers. During the Depression, the Pearsons packed up the truck and moved to a new farm in Selah, Washington. Elaine graduated from Selah High School in 1939 and Yakima Valley Junior College in 1941.

The company we keep (Fall/Winter 2013)

It was the summer of ’39 – that is, 1839 – and the young Carl Olof Rosenius was tormented by two lingering doubts: “Does God exist?” and if so, “is the Bible really God’s word?” Rosenius had had no shortage of spiritual mentors in his youth, including the charismatic laywoman preacher Maja Lisa Söderlund, who had previously helped him regain confidence in his faith. In this more recent episode of doubt, one might have expected him to be content with the many great friends and mentors that he already had.

Blossom like a desert rose (Fall/Winter 2013)

A Reader’s Carol (Fall/Winter 2013)

There’s room in our tent (Spring/Summer 2014)

In the 1910s through the 1930s, Covenanters were engaged in a flurry of activity in establishing missions in China, Alaska and Congo, building on precedents from the previous century. For the centennial history of First Covenant Church in Seattle in 1989, Jeannette Adamson was recruited to write down her memories from these decades, as this had been a profound part of her own family’s story.

Knowing God (Spring/Summer 2014)

O, that we could one day truly learn to know God! In reality there is no one in whom we have so little confidence as God.

Jesus can speak for himself (Fall/Winter 2014)

In the long tradition of altar paintings, the various moments of Christ’s life have been treated in every way imaginable, ranging from the triumphal, to the terrifying, to the poignant. One of my favorites is the version of “Descent from the Cross” painted by Rembrandt in 1634, now at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Why we read together (Fall/Winter 2016)

During the past half year, many Covenant congregations across the country, including my own, embarked on a journey of reading the entire New Testament together.