The Protestant Spirit: The Holy Spirit in Protestant thought, practice and experience, 1500-1900


This conference will explore the Holy Spirit and pneumatology as core theological and practical concerns in historical Protestantism, from the Reformation to the eve of Pentecostalism. Diverse movements, groups and individuals across this period and throughout global Protestantism claimed experiences of the Spirit, developed distinctive theologies of the Spirit, and defined themselves against other traditions on the basis of beliefs and practices concerning the Spirit.

Studying this aspect of Protestant thought and experience remains fraught with methodological and epistemological problems. Historians are increasingly enjoined to ‘take seriously’ the accounts and interpretations of past actors themselves. Yet how should scholars avoid reducing spirituality to the status of cultural or anthropological artefact, or discourse?

This major British Academy-funded conference at the University of Oxford will re-examine the history of Protestant Christianity through the lens of appeals to the authority and experience of the Holy Spirit. It aims to bring historians into dialogue with theologians, literary scholars, philosophers of religion and others, to explore comparative approaches and parallel concerns. 4 core themes for the conference are anticipated

· Authority and dissent
· Marginality and gender
· Mediation and experience
· Methodological problems

Call for Papers

Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to: theorists of the Holy Spirit (from major theologians to marginal thinkers); movements and themes (pietism, millennialism, Holiness traditions); social and cultural contexts for religious renewal; trends in literary or other approaches to spiritual experience.

Please submit a 300-word abstract for a 20-minute paper and a 100-word biography to: The deadline for submissions is Friday 1 May 2015. For more information contact:

This event is funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, and convened by Dr. Sarah Apetrei, Dr Philip Lockley, and Dr Simeon Zahl, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford.