David J. ZehnderCorresponding author

The Hermeneutical Keys to William James’s Philosophy of Religion: Protestant Impulses, Vital Belief

15/2 - Fall 2010, pages 301-316
Date of online publication: 20 December 2010
Date of publication: 20 December 2010


This essay argues that the American psychologist and philosopher William James should be viewed in the Lutheran Reformation’s tradition because this viewpoint offers the hermeneutical key to his philosophy of religion. Though James obviously didn’t ascribe to biblical authority, he expressed the following religious sensibilities made possible by Martin Luther and his contemporaries: 1) challenge of prevailing systems, 2) anti-rationalism, 3) being pro-religious experience and dynamic belief, 4) need for a personal, caring God, and also 5) a gospel of religious comfort. This essay asks, in one specific form, how religious concerns can hold steady over time but cause very different expressions of faith.


Cite this article

Zehnder, David J. “The Hermeneutical Keys to William James’s Philosophy of Religion: Protestant Impulses, Vital Belief.” Forum Philosophicum 15, no. 2 (2010): 301–16. doi:10.35765/forphil.2010.1502.21.


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