The term 'perennialism' has multiple meanings. According to one definition, it is a form of religious pluralism. Specifically, it is the view that there is a shared core of truth in all major religions (sometimes called a perennial philosophy) and that this core is grounded in and justified by shared religious experiences, usually of the mystical variety. In a narrower sense, it is the view that certain types of mystical or other religious experiences are 'essentially the same', phenomenologically speaking, in all or almost all human cultures and religious traditions. Broad perennialism has a long history, dating all the way back to ancient times. It is still taken seriously, especially by those who regard themselves as spiritual but not religious.
Perennialism has not, however, been a popular topic in recent years among philosophers of religion. For a variety of reasons, its discussion in philosophy journals nearly burned out around the turn of the century. Hopefully, this first issue of Religious Studies Archives will help to reignite interest in this important topic by highlighting some of the best work on perennialism that appeared in the pages of Religious Studies in the second half of the twentieth century. Although most of this work was on narrow perennialism, it demonstrates the promise of broad perennialism as an alternative form of religious pluralism to those currently being discussed in contemporary philosophy of religion.