Types of Religious Experience, Christian and Non-Christian

Types of Religious Experience, Christian and Non-Christian

Types of Religious Experience, Christian and Non-Christian

Types of Religious Experience, Christian and Non-Christian

Excerpt

The essays collected in this volume date from different times; they have been written at different places, and they treat of apparently quite different topics. What then can be said for presenting them to the reader in this unified form? The answer is, their author feels, that the studies which he has carried on during the last decade have all been directed toward one goal: the deeper understanding of the religious heritage of West and East. Comparison is for him no end in itself but rather a means used in the service of a greater purpose: to help him and others to a more intimate acquaintance with the witness and the witnesses of genuine religious experience at various times and in various places. He admits that he delights in the variety which the expressions of this experience the world over offer -- in this he sympathizes with the author of the wellnigh classical Varieties of Religious Experience, William James, the greatest modern American religious thinker. But he is also aware that fifty years have passed since James's book made its first appearance and that there has been much opportunity to learn since his day. We are no longer so ready to glory in the vindication of a pluralism of which historism is just an instance, for over twenty-five years ago Ernst Troeltsch voiced his conviction that the great work in which he had summarized the philosophy of this worldview was also to be its epitaph. Not that we should ever wish to neglect or forget the enormous debt which we owe to a generation of scholars and thinkers who have increased a thousandfold our knowledge of civilizations, societies and religions different from our own. None of the modest contributions collected in this volume could have been written without the painstaking work of the generation which preceded ours. Yet, we do not any longer believe that history as such can supply us with norms by which to regulate our lives. And with norms we have again become desperately concerned. We realize that . . .

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