Holy Spirit and Religious Experience seeks to find out how far the centrality of the Holy Spirit in Christian experience during the earliest period of the church was maintained or diminished in the third to the fifth generations (ca. AD 90-200). Three themes are explored. First, the sense of encounter with the divine presence, the numinous, a sense of being caught up into the divine being or being overwhelmed by the One who is beyond us. Secondly, a sense of being illuminated in respect to the truth, given deeper understanding of God's purpose, whether for the individual or the congregation, or guided in decision-making. Thirdly, a sense of ethical empowerment, an awareness of being helped by divine power, assisted in a course of action or development of character, in grappling with temptation, or in the ultimate test of loyalty, martyrdom. This book is arranged geographically, from Syria and Asia Minor in the East to Rome and Gaul in the West, including North Africa and Egypt. Christian authors within these areas are examined chronologically, from the later New Testament writers through the second century to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian of Carthage, for the evidence they supply. The variegated picture which emerges, it is contended, reflects second-century Christianity.
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