Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feelings and Faith

Alex Chediak interviews Brian Borgman on his new book, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life.

Here is one of their exchanges:
What are the most common misunderstandings Christians make regarding their emotions?

The misunderstandings are across the board. On the one end of the spectrum you have the anti-emotion view which looks at emotions as dangerous, unreliable and even undesirable. From this perspective, one of the goals of the Christian life is to ignore or suppress the emotions. All of the emotive words in the Bible are recast into mental or volitional activities.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the view that the emotions are king, they sovereignly rule the Christian. This can manifest itself in "I can't help the way I feel" emotional victimization. I have seen grown men and women justify sins of all sorts because they "couldn't help the way they feel." This notion of the sovereignty of the emotions can also be turned into something quite mystical. From this perspective, one lives by the emotions. The emotions (how a person feels) determine whether they are close to God, what they believe, how they conduct themselves and even determine God's will. In this camp virtually nobody considers the tougher doctrines like election or hell, because they don't like the way they "feel."

The correctives for these views are to see that the emotions, although fallen, are a good part of our humanity which reflects the image of God and that they are not soverign over us, but rather through the Word and Spirit we can grow in emotional maturity and balance. Making that case is the burden of Feelings and Faith.