Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Integration of Truth and Emotion

Listening to a speaker this past Thursday at a worship service, I noticed a strange dichotomy articulated. It was the concept that emotions are unreliable and that the Word of God is reliable. The man took the Scripture as factual but saw emotions as unreliable. I would define emotions as responses to one's value judgments. Those value judgments may be misguided or be an accurate assessment of the facts. Certainly one's emotions may be manipulated by others or ourselves. Emotions may also be influenced by one's health and environmental factors. Interactions with others influence one's emotions also. When the Scripture commands one to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might", it includes the emotions. An emotionless response to the Word of God would mean that one would fail to embrace the
value judgments discussed therein. Worship is meant to engage the whole person. That does not mean one should engage the emotions without the mind or will. People make use of emotional energy to improve performance at tasks related to sports, performing arts, and persuasion. It is not unusual for those who desire to harness the emotional energy to do so without regard for truth. Coaches and teachers commonly speak in hyperbole to engage the emotions to bring focus and energy to the student's performance. In certain circles of Christianity there has been an engagement of the emotional nature of believers without a strong connection to mental aspect of Christianity. The reaction to that appears to be the total disengagement of the emotions. A response more in line with the greatest commandment is for one to engage the mind and the emotions along with the will, conscience, and body. Just because a well meaning coach on the football team could engage the emotions with light content about the game does not mean that all emotional appeals are free of substantive contributions to the mental aspects of the person. Football has rules and roles that allow for that sort of emotional appeals, but worship is incomplete without both mental and emotional engagement.