The terms "confessionalism" and "pietism" can refer to historical movements within Christendom. Or they may denote two opposite emphases or tendencies related to Christian doctrine and experience. Historically, "confessionalism" has been associated with Protestant denominations that place a great deal of priority on doctrinal orthodoxy and creedal subscription, as well as on proper form and ritual in liturgical practice. "Pietism," on the other hand, has been associated with movements within Protestant churches that stress the importance of heart religion and that decry dead orthodoxy and religious formalism.
Whereas confessionalism may emphasize sound doctrine and orderly worship, pietism emphasizes Christian experience and vibrant devotion. Confessionalism tends to focus more on the church as a whole; pietism, on the individuals that make up the church. Confessionalists encourage God's people to be content with the ordinary means of grace and the routineness of the Christian life. Pietists urge God's people to pray for revival and to long for the Holy Spirit to work in extraordinary ways.
Some Christians take sides. They identify themselves either as confessionalists or as pietists. And it's not uncommon to find those who favor one critiquing or cautioning against the other. Kevin DeYoung, however, suggests that we need not view these two movements or tendencies as enemies but as friends. That is, we can benefit from the strengths and insights of both a confessional Christianity and also a pietistic Christianity while avoiding the potential pitfalls or weaknesses that a one-sided approach can foster. I'd like to commend Pastor DeYoung's helpful posts, which can be accessed by clicking on each of the links below: