In The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience, Simeon Zahl presents a fresh vision for Christian theology that foregrounds the relationship between theological ideas and the experiences of Christians. He argues that theology is always operating in a vibrant landscape of feeling and desiring, and shows that contemporary theology has often operated in problematic isolation from these experiential dynamics. He then argues that a theologically serious doctrine of the Holy Spirit not only authorizes but requires attention to Christian experience.
Against this background, Zahl outlines a new methodological approach to Christian theology that attends to the emotional and experiential power of theological ideas. This methodology draws on recent interdisciplinary work on affect and emotion, which has shown that affects are powerful motivating realities that saturate all dimensions of human thinking and acting. In the process, Zahl also explains why contemporary theology has often been ambivalent about subjective experience, and demonstrates that current discourse about God's activity in the world is often artificially abstracted from experience and embodiment.
At the heart of the book, Zahl proposes a new account of the theology of grace from this experiential and pneumatological perspective. Focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and sanctification, he retrieves insights from Augustine, Luther, and Philip Melanchthon to present an affective and Augustinian vision of salvation as a pedagogy of desire. In articulating this vision, Zahl engages critically with recent emphasis on participation and theosis in Christian soteriology, and charts a new path forward for Protestant theology in a landscape hitherto dominated by the theological visions of Barth and Aquinas.
Zahl's argument is compelling, clear, and insightful. If nothing else, this book carves out an important place for experience in theology and refuses to accept theological accounts that skirt real pastoral issues with vague language. In this, Zahl's book should be a model for future theologians, particularly as theologians begin seeking to bridge the gap between academic and pastoral theology. * Michael Riggins, Ad Fontes * Zahl has written a stimulating monograph encouraging us to experience, to feel, and desire the graciousness of God "in an affective and pneumatological key." * Christopher Holmes, The Living Church * If Zahl's integration holds, this book will prove to be a milestone, one that can help usher Pentecostal theology into the mainstream of academic theological reflection. It is a book that deserves to be read by all Protestant theologians, including all Pentecostals. * Steven Edward Harris, Pneuma * Zahl has written a fresh and inventive book. Its focus upon emotion and desire settles it nicely within contemporary efforts in systematic theology to take embodiment seriously. Nevertheless, Zahl remains informed by historic claims familiar to Christian theology. Its innovation lies in its ability to say something new by saying something old ... It is a rare occasion when a book reminds one of why one loves theology (and here the choice of words is deliberate). Simeon Zahl's The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience is that kind of book. * Fellipe do Vale, Journal of Reformed Theology * This is a well-argued book, wide in its engagements, generous in its challenges and savvy in its constructive efforts. * Calvin Lane, Scottish Journal of Theology * Recommended. * P.K. Moser, Loyola University Chicago, CHOICE *