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Living in the Holy Spirit: a phenomenological study of ecstatic Christian charismatic religious experience

Reichelt, Alexander (1999) Living in the Holy Spirit: a phenomenological study of ecstatic Christian charismatic religious experience. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86177) (KAR id:86177)


This thesis attempts to understand the perception of Charismatic Christians of the world they live in in relationship to their religious experiences. It explores a variety of experiences of holiness in the lives of Charismatic Christians, drawing upon numerous testimonies found in their own literature as well as the writings of anthropologists and sociologists of religion, and those obtained through interviews with individual Charismatic Christians. Being sensitive to the methodological difficulties of understanding any religious experience from a perspective outside a religious community, and yet desiring to pursue a non- reductionist approach to religious experience, the phenomenological tool of the epoche is applied. As we demonstrate through our discussion of the alternative scholarly approaches to the study of shamanism, religious experience is neither pathological nor a mere therapeutic tool, but irreducible to any other experience. In the light of this methodological principle we describe and interpret Christian Charismatic religious life and experience as it occurs in our own Western world as well as in non Western societies, and in so doing we consider its adaptability to other cultures and its relationship to indigenous religion of Christian and non Christian tradition. In order to identify the relationship of Christian Charismatic religion to our own culture, we compare it to another contemporary Western religious phenomenon, the New Age movement. Finally, identifying similar experiences in the history of Christianity, we find that from the beginning of the Christian Church there has been a struggle between a more hierarchical form of religion, which emphasises the values of the community of believers, and a more individualist form of religion, drawing its authority mainly from the personal experience of the Holy Spirit. Our modern Western culture tends to endorse more the values of the latter. It will be argued that the ecstatic experience of Charismatic Christians can be interpreted as the climax of secularisation: for a rapidly growing number of Charismatic Christians the institutionalised Church has become dispensable.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Schlamm, Leon
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86177
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Philosophy
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:32 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 13:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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