Charles Wagner

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For the American electrical engineer, see Charles F. Wagner.

Charles Wagner (3 January 1852 Wibersville, Alsace – 12 May 1918) was a French reformed pastor whose inspirational writings were influential in shaping the reformed theology of his time.


At the age of 14, he was sent to Paris to school; graduated from the Sorbonne in 1869; and studied theology at Strassburg and Göttingen. He was the pastor of a small parish in the French province of Vosges until 1882, when he went to Paris, and there opened a Sunday school and later began preaching.

The publication of his book Jeunesse (“Youth”) in 1891 marked him as a leader in the ethical movement in France and his influence continually increased. Besides serving as pastor to a large congregation, he took an active part in many philanthropic and charitable undertakings, and in this work came into cordial relations with men of all shades of religious belief. Of his publications, The Simple Life attracted particular interest in the United States and was widely commended by religious and ethical leaders.

In the fall of 1904, Wagner visited the United States. He was invited to preach at the White House by Theodore Roosevelt on whom The Simple Life had made a lasting impression.[1] Wagner made numerous addresses and gained material for his book My Impressions of America (1906).


  • The Simple Life
  • By the Fireside
  • Justice
  • The Better Way
  • My Impressions Of America (1906)
  • Courage
  • Youth
  • Wayside Talks
  • The Gospel Of Life
  • The Busy Life
  • On Life's Threshold (1905)
  • My Appeal To America
  • The Voice Of Nature, or The Soul Of Things

Many of his books have been translated into English.


Most of his works are now out of print but Éditions Ampelos began to publish the principal works in 2006.

  • Justice, Huit discours
  • Jeunesse
  • Vaillance,
  • La Vie Simple,
  • Le Bon Samaritain
  • Auprès du Foyer,
  • Sois un Homme, (causeries sur la conduite de la vie)
  • L’Âme des choses,
  • Le long du chemin,
  • L’Ami, dialogues intérieurs,
  • Histoires et farciboles, pour les enfants,
  • Libre pensée et protestantisme libéral (with Ferdinand Buisson)
  • Cinq discours religieux,
  • Vers le cœur de l’Amérique,
  • En écoutant le maître,
  • Le Juste vivra de sa foi,
  • L’Évangile et la Vie, Editions Ampelos,
  • Devant le témoin invisible,
  • Les deux esprits (sermons)
  • La Marche à la vie (sermons)
  • Le sel qui perd sa saveur,
  • N’oublie pas,
  • Glaive à deux tranchants,
  • Pour les petits et les grands,

There is also Manuel de bonne vie by Mme Brandon-Salvador which is compiled from his works. The biography Un Homme by his nephew Alfred Wautier d'Aygalliers often refers to his own diary which is now lost which contained information on Wagner's life and thought. A recent biography, Charles Wagner et le Foyer de l’Âme by Pierre-Jean Ruff, tells the story of Charles Wagner and the Foyer de l’Âme. L’Homme est une espérance de Dieu, is an anthology of Wagner's writings selected by Anne Penesco and Geoffroy de Turckheim has been published by Van Dieren Éditeur


  1. ^ Anonymous. "ADMIRES THE PRESIDENT.; Rev. Mr. Wagner Tells of His Visit to the White House." Special to The New York Times, 28 September 1904, page 9.


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