“‘Effete Enthusiasm’? Episcopal Critique of the Effervescence of the Spirit in early English Enlightenment”
Affectivity of religion was often castigated as enthusiasm in late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century England, particularly among the elite clerical circles in the Church of England, vis-à-vis the Dissenters. As a result of the Act of Uniformity and the so-called Great Ejection of Puritan ministers from parish church inexorably brought about a permanent fissure between “Church vs. chapel,” which also became a Pneumatological Rubicon. This paper will investigate the extent to which the language of “effete enthusiasm” was an attack on Dissenting praxis tout court, and explore the question of “Whither the Spirit,” especially as a harbinger – or an early incarnation – of the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century. By doing so, it will help us situate the “dawn of the Wesleyan” affectivity, which has a direct genealogical linkage with Azusa Street, Global Pentecostalism, and the current goalposts in our dialogues about religious practices and locative issues of the Spirit.