a1 Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Lancaster
The claim has often been made over the centuries that the presence of the spirit of God, seen especially in saintly people, is an anticipation of immortality. My purpose in this paper is to see why this claim is made and to lay bare the structure of the argument which underlies it. Although there has been a renewed interest in the question of immortality, both among philosophers and theologians in recent years, this particular aspect of it has been neglected.
The claim being discussed is not, as we shall see, restricted to Christianity; and even within the Christian religion it is expressed in many different ways. John Wesley, for instance, says in his sermon On the Holy Spirit: