In my senior year, one of our English projects was to write a sermonette. These sermons, about 2-3 pages, were spoken in class then collected into a devotional book. As getting ideas for blogging constantly is difficult, I decided to go through this devotional and write a post about some of the ideas that come up in each of them, with some of my input added.
Jesse hits on a hot topic that has been very relevant in the church lately, and in my life. It’s the balance between intellect and emotions. There is a constant struggle between the two. Jesse says that there is no way for it to be finally solved. It is a balancing act between the two. Both of them play important roles in our relationship with God. Jesse is a brilliant writer, and here is an exert from his devotional.
The two play a vital role in our relationship with god. Without logic and doctrine, the relationship is able to be tossed by the waters in all directions. It has no reason, and thus no reason to continue. Emotional love can change to hate almost without provocation. Without emotion, however, the relationship begins as meaningless and goes no further. God becomes a theory, a mind-game, an entertaining notion. God as theory may still affect the life of the “believer,” but any change will be ultimately futile. Emotion takes into account the great mystery that transcends reason in any relationship. Any attempt to reduce God completely to a system of doctrine will result in either outright contradiction or extreme heresy.- Jesse B, Un9ted in Christ, CPCS Honors English 12, 2009
There is an endless battle between the two. Last semester I wrestled with this idea in Torrey. So many of the early church fathers didn’t seem to like emotions. Repression and thought were the highest calling of the Christian. And this idea is spread n our culture for higher beings. The jedi in Star Wars are not to feel emotions. No love or joy nor hate or anger; all is to be abandoned. Again, in Star Trek, Spock, the noble Vulcan, is from a race that represses emotions. And all the cop shows, medical shows, etc., show people who are supposed to suppress emotions.
And then there are those who elevate emotions to a higher level. There are Christians who cry over everything. Emotion is their connection to God. Theologians become heartless enemies that try to suppress the simple “child like” faith of believers. Church fathers like Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Ignatius, and others are all thrown out.
Last year I stood in Singspo contemplating these things. Singspo is a very emotional experience (which isn’t bad, especially since it is tied to theology) and I was frustrated with how I was supposed to react. Should I sit there and sing emotionlessly, only looking at the words to see if I believe them, or should I give into emotions and just sing with as much emotion as possible, giving into more emotion than thought. It was in this moment of contemplation and prayer that God revealed to me what the answer was, and what to write my Torrey paper on. Plato was right about the ordering of the soul, but not in all its functions. The mind is above emotions, yes, but it is to guide them. The emotions are what move, but without the intellect they are wild, uncontrolled, unstable, and lacking direction. The intellect, on the other hand, can not move without the emotions. It has no purpose to follow God, or ability, without the emotions. How can it even enjoy the thought of God, much less love him, without emotions. No, it is impossible to be emotionless, but it is also impossible to be completely deficient of intellect (though you can be severely lacking in either, or misguided).
Jesse hit a hot spot for Christians. He emphasizes that a relationship is about knowing someone, but you don’t do that without having an emotional attachment to them. A relationship is both intellectual and emotional. Even Biola has dealt with this. In the fall 2010 magazine hey posted an article called Weightier Worship about making worship more meaningful doctrinally. They have been working on tying in theology into worship so that we sing what we believe. That means singing hymns and other newer songs that bring to mind true doctrine. This is a strive to connect head and heart, to bring us closer in true living relationship with God. At Grace EV Free we do the same thing. We integrate our worship with our theology. An entire worship CD was written for the current CD we are going through. An entire service went between what we were going to learn with a little sermonette and the song that correlates to it. It was the most beautiful service I have ever seen theologically. Sadly, it is not available online.
When I wrote my God inspired paper (not like Scripture, or anywhere close, but God initiated it and did guide my thoughts) it was one of the best papers I had ever written. I felt peace as I realized that neither side is to over power the other and neither side is to be neglected. We follow a God who loves us and has given us these capabilities to know him and to love him. With these two we are to worship him.