Few would argue that we live in a day and age where thinking is celebrated over feeling. Arguments over political or social issues no longer center on truth or fact, but instead revolve around personal identity and subsequent emotional response.
We’ve seen this trend in society, and sadly, it has made its way into the Church.
Ask any number of church shoppers what they are looking for in a new church–no doubt “comfort” in some shape or form will rank higher on the list than “education.” Many congregations across the United States have replaced a rich and robust Theology of God and the Gospel with emotionally weak music and watered down teaching, replete with messages of love and void of accountability or holy living. Some churches have gone so far as to intentionally avoid the term “preaching” in lieu of “a talk” so as not to overwhelm or offend a sensitive audience.
In response to young people leaving the Church in droves upon entering adulthood, the knee-jerk response has been to center on the milk vs. the meat as it pertains to the deep things of God.
Is it a surprise that the pastor of America’s largest church does not even hold a bachelor’s degree? Does it matter?
Why It Matters
This trend–to pursue feeling over thinking–began in the Church as early as the Second Great Awakening, when impassioned altar calls and dramatic conversion experiences replaced the era of deep thought and careful contemplation. In his book, Love the Lord Your God With All Your Mind, J.P. Moreland writes,
“The intellectually shallow, theologically illiterate form of Christianity … came to be part of the populist Christian religion that emerged.”
And came to be part of this era it did! The result of this new age of feeling over thinking has trained us to process life and worship based on how we feel. If we don’t feel loved, we must not be loved. If we can’t feel God’s presence, He must not really be near. But nowhere in Scripture does God command us to feel our way to Truth. In fact, quite the opposite—
“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, ‘If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).
“Jesus answered him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me'” (John 14:6).
The Puritan minister and author, Cotton Mather, said it best, “Ignorance is the Mother not of Devotion but of HERESY.”
So What Now?
One of the great and beautiful truths about God is that He is good and He is God regardless of how our feelings align with that reality on any given day. It is essential, then, for life and godliness that we learn truth about God and not just how we feel in His presence. Put simply, our feelings can and will betray us.
As church members, we must actively pursue our knowledge of God and the things of the Bible. We must not be content with high-level, surface truth. Without diving deep, what will we cling to in times of trouble or when non-believers ask us to explain what we believe?
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Consider this. If a young man in your church gains a reputation for being passionate about God, Theology, and Scripture, what is the typical response of fellow church-goers?–“That young man must be called to the ministry!”
Why? Why isn’t it the norm for Christ-followers to be committed to studying and thinking about the things of God? Why must the robust teaching and faithful study of God’s Word be limited to seminaries and higher education?
Is it wrong to feel the emotions that accompany the Christian life?—certainly not. Jesus Himself said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Our problem is that we are being conditioned to love the Lord with only our heart and soul. God calls us to love Him with our minds. He, after all, equipped us to think.
Dear Church, please don’t dumb down Christianity.
~ Christian Patriot Daily