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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The long nineteenth century was a time of intense interest in ‘experience’ for Christians, at both academic and popular levels. This interest emerged especially in the wake of the success of Pietist, ‘experience’-oriented spiritualities in the eighteenth century, and out of a desire to defend and re-establish Christian faith against recent and ongoing philosophical and scientific encroachments and critiques. This chapter examines three major trajectories during the period: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s influential approach to religious experience and its legacy in figures like Coleridge, Bushnell, and von Hofmann; creative reflection on the limits of ‘experience’ from within Pietist and renewal movements; and the transformation of the critical Protestant ‘anti-enthusiastic’ tradition into the scientific analysis of religious experience, culminating at the end of the period in the work of William James. A key theme is the under-recognized significance of Protestant renewal movements as both a resource and a foil for each of these trajectories.

Keywords: experience, Friedrich Schleiermacher, William James, Pietism, enthusiasm, religious experience, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Horace Bushnell, Phoebe Palmer, Christoph Blumhardt

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