The idealist tradition in Australian religious thought

Ian Tregenza*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Although British idealism has recently undergone a minor scholarly revival, its impact on Australian intellectual life remains an underexplored area of inquiry. Such work as there is on the Australian idealists has largely focused on social and political themes despite the fact that idealism was driven by deeply religious interests. This paper explores the religious writings of five Australian intellectuals whose work was shaped by the tradition of philosophical idealism. The writers chosen include two Scottish émigrés - Charles Strong (1844-1942) and Francis Anderson (1858-1941) - and three Australian born students of Anderson - M. Scott Fletcher (1868-1947), E.H. Burgmann (1885-1965), and A.P. Elkin (1891-1979). By identifying the threads that connect these writers, along with some of their British contemporaries, the case is made that they can be understood as giving voice to a coherent, if rather loosely bound, intellectual tradition. Among much else, this tradition sought a reconciliation of religious and secular knowledge, proposed an evolutionary or developmental understanding of religious truth, and defended the idea of human personality in an increasingly scientific and mechanistic civilisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-353
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Religious History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'The idealist tradition in Australian religious thought'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this