Arthur Versluis
(517) 353-2930

737 Wells Hall
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyReligious Studies

Religions in North America; Mysticism; Esoteric Religion; New Religious Movements; Asian Religions; Religion and Non-Profits; Religion and Politics


Arthur Versluis is Professor of Religious Studies in the College of Arts & Letters. His doctoral work at the University of Michigan was on American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions, subsequently published under that title by Oxford University Press. He also specializes in esoteric religion, and in particular, Christian theosophy (the tradition of esoteric Christianity that begins with Jacob Böhme (1575-1624), discussed in a trilogy of books on that theme, Theosophia, (Lindisfarne, 1994), Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition (SUNY Press, 1999), and Wisdom’s Book: The Sophia Anthology, (Paragon House, 2000). Other books on Western esotericism include The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2001), Restoring Paradise, (SUNY Press, 2004), and his survey of the field, Magic and Mysticism: An Introduction to Western Esotericism (Rowman Littlefield, 2006). This book derived from a popular course that he created here at MSU with the same title, Magic and Mysticism (REL 275). He is editor of JSR: Journal for the Study of Radicalism. Some of his more recent books include American Gurus: From Transcendentalism to New Age Religion (Oxford University Press, 2014), Platonic Mysticism (SUNY Press, 2017), and American Gnosis: Political Religion and Transcendence (Oxford University Press, 2023).  

 Prof. Versluis enjoys teaching; his courses are dynamic, and they often cover material that you will not encounter anywhere else.  

Prof. Versluis has long been active in scholarly organizations devoted to the study of religion as well as in founding and directing several non-profit organizations, and is the founding president of Hieros (, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that furthers exploring transreligious dimensions of the sacred in contemporary life. He is very interested in the study, development, and practices of social entrepreneurship, especially in connection to the study of religion. Among other courses, he teaches REL 285, Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship and Religion, so far as we know, the first course of its kind in a Religious Studies curriculum. In our innovative new Masters degree online program, his teaching areas include GNL 823  Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Religion, GNL 824, Social Entrepreneurship and Religion: Case Studies, GNL 825, Creativity in Organizations, and GNL 826, Flourishing Under Stress.  

University News

New MSU Global Nonprofit Leadership M.A. and Certificate Programs Launch
Published May 30, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
Photo of four people collaborating around a poster with sticky notes.
For the first time at Michigan State University, graduate students and professionals can enroll in the new Nonprofit Leadership, Global Cultures, and Social Enterprise master’s degree and graduate…Read now »
Video: A Conversation About MSU’s Foglio Chair in Spirituality
Published October 1, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
thumbnail of a video showing three photos of men on the panel to talk about MSU's foglio chair in spirituality
Now more than ever, our need to provide students with the human and professional virtues required to live meaningful lives through deep and genuine relations is critical in the world today. Our…Read now »
How Religions Around the World Are Keeping the Faith During COVID-19
Published April 6, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
a person praying
COVID-19 has rocked everyday life for people around the world, requiring religious communities to shift worship at a time that many consider the most holiest of the year. Daily and weekly…Read now »