Over the past few days an interesting discussion — poured across several different places — has arisen. And it's not even about Rob Bell!
It started, most likely, with a Facebook note by Anthony Weber regarding the book, God is Not One, by Stephen Protero. The note's title is "Protestantism's Scarecrow Faith?!?!?" I learned of it via a comment made by a blog brother, Scott Smith, who further addressed it in his blog, Sarcastic Xtian, in a post titled "A Mindless Faith." Both provide excellent insights and stuff to consider.
I'm going to take a slightly different approach.
Consider †his: the Holy Spirit is not an emotional high experienced in "church."
I was surprised to discover in Google's results for "gifts of the holy spirit" a mention of Isaiah 11:1-5. I was more familiar with the ones found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Romans 12:1-10. (Thanks to Robert Longham, Jr., for his page, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which provided a quick reference as well as a balanced view of the whole thing.) Galatians 5:22-23, on the other hand, provides the fruit of the Spirit.
While I could go off on the abuses made involving the gifts & fruit, I'll leave that for another post.
This time I want to tackle the modern notion of shutting down our minds in favor of getting "pumped up" with emotions. Yes, I'm talking about preachers and other leaders who choose to lead in chaos during a worship service rather than teach the word of God!
God has much for us to learn from His Word. We are called to learn sound doctrine so we may encourage those who trust it, and rebuke or refute those teachings that go against it (Titus 1:9). That passage refers to the "trustworthy word," meaning what is now considered Scripture, as we don't have the apostles among us (apostolic succession notwithstanding). Titus was later instructed by Paul to teach that same sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
Paul's successor in teaching, Timothy, was also instructed to hold fast to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-16, 1 Timothy 1:3-7). Later Paul warned Tim that people would give up on sound doctrine, choosing a wide variety of teachers that will affirm whatever they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).
Welcome to the 21st century!
We have so many "feel-good" teachers that you have no reason to feel bad. Yet so many of us do! That's because emotions aren't permanent. They run & hide at the drop of a circumstance. Emotions aren't trustworthy. Many people feel "up" when the sun is shining, and "down" when it's cloudy & "gloomy." Emotions are often merely the result of chemical changes in our body. I suffer from clinical depression, caused by the inability to create and/or use the neurotransmitter serotonin properly.
Emotions make up the majority of our remembered experiences. This is especially true of women, who are able to use both sides of their brains at once, allowing them to think and feel at the same time. Sorry, men, it makes no sense to us, because we're "brain damaged" and can't do that. Still, how much pain do we guys remember compared to learned knowledge?
God can, of course, heal our hurts, repair our remembrances, and effect emotional changes for His glory. Sometimes, though, we have to be smart … Book smart … WORD smart! We need to know what God says to us so that we can bring Him glory even when we don't feel like it, or when our past experiences "prove" that what we "feel" is "true."
Life in Christ can be a "thrill ride" at times, but that's not all it is. We need solid truth — sound doctrine — to get us through those times when we know that roller coaster of life is surely going to throw us out of our car, hurtling head-first to our destruction … precisely what our enemy, the devil, wants us to think so we won't bring God glory!
When have you "felt" God protecting you in spite of your emotions? Has the emotional high ever failed you? When has the truth you've learned from God's Word rescued you from a bad emotional experience?