Emotionalism: All Bad?

I was thinking about this on the drive to seminary class tonight: is emotionalism always bad?

Emotions are an easy target for cynics, atheists and liberals.  People do silly things when they're high on the ecstasy of emotion and the consuming pressures of groupthink.  Pentecostal worship services seem reliant on mob mentality to keep their frenzied momentum (that's not as much of a criticism as it sounds).

And it's absolutely true: God is not our emotions.  Our emotions are not the qualitative movement of the Holy Spirit.  We can't rely on FEELINGS to FEEL God.  Or to HEAR God.  Or to KNOW God. 

All too often, feelings really cause problems.  When we feel really GOOD, we tend to think it's a result of the rightness of our theology or our ecclesial practices.  So some really BAD habits and some really DANGEROUS beliefs get validated because the feelings that went with them felt sooo goooood.

We need to be thoughtful enough - self-controlled enough - to recognize when emotions are speaking to us.  Otherwise, God is speaking through the Hallmark commercial or the Thomas Kinkade painting.  That's not a good reflection of spiritual depth.

But the flip side is, emotions are important!  Feeling things is important!  Cold cynicism, though understandable, is a harsh way to live.  We should be capable of being emotionally moved by God - by Creation, for that matter.  And that should be no matter how liberal we are, scientifically minded we think, or how much we want to distance ourselves from XYZ Church.

Are you too cynical to be moved by something beautiful?  I hope not.


Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Peter J Walker said...

Quite an exciting invitation!

Stitching n Shipping said...

Aunt Rose used to say: " A candy bar might make you feel good for a few minutes but stealing isn't right" I never really understood that as a child but the older you get, the more wisdom one naturally gains. It's really easy to say "it's God's will" when things are going good and flowery but when things are not pleasing to us, easy to cast blame.

Great post.

Brittany said...

Thanks Peter. Your closing question is a good one.
Though *occasionally* I can be a bit cold/cynical, I need to remember that some of the best decisions I've made have been in moments when I was simply moved deeply by something, be it beauty or suffering.

Hope you're well, it's been too long. :)

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