On the Ministry of John Piper - Mike Riley

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The Riley article on Piper has an interesting quote:
Quote:

It is this emphasis on being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution to contemporary evangelical discussion. Piper’s theology is in some ways a fresh updating of Jonathan Edwards’ emphasis on the necessity of right affections. It is easy in our approach to our ministries to reduce genuine Christianity to right doctrine and right practice, because these are the easiest to judge based on externals. Piper, however, insists that right emotions are just as vital as these other essentials. He recognizes that it is possible to believe the right things intellectually and do the right things morally, and yet have no emotional inclination toward God. He relentlessly attacks the popular idea that obedience to God should be pursued from the motivation of mere duty, comparing it to a man who buys roses for his wife on their anniversary merely because it is his duty to do so. Instead, Piper encourages a pursuit for God that encompasses the entire person: mind, will, and emotions.

And of course the Bible never, ever, ever in any place teaches that our emotions are the basis of any initiation in service, devotion or contemplation toward God. Piper remains wrong and as was discussed in another thread about fraudulent spirituality, such teaching by Piper about emotions is exactly that, fraudulent spirituality.


Jonathan Charles wrote:
Love and desire for God = fraudulent spirituality??? I guess I have been mislead by the book of Psalms.

Well if you believe when a person teaches that the Bible requires certain "emotions" as the basis of our relationship with God and if you believe such a view is simply synonymous with "love and desire" for God and if you believe I accept your simplification, well let's just say that if you were up to bat you would have been called out by way of 3 swings and misses.

Love is not an emotion, love stems from thoughts. You may or may not have emotions that accompany love. The Bible at no place and at no times demands emotions.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Quote:
Alex wrote - And of course the Bible never, ever, ever in any place teaches that our emotions are the basis of any initiation in service, devotion or contemplation toward God.

Alex, I did not read anywhere in the passage you cited that emotions were supposed to initiate anything, only that they were part of the whole program. IOW, they are not the engine, but they are still an integral part of the train.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jonathan Charles's picture

Just typing off the cuff here: I think you have to carefully define what you mean by "emotions." Yes, there are fleeting emotions, feelings that are here one moment and gone the next. I don't think Piper is teaching some simplistic "have good feelings about God." He is teaching something much deeper than that, and I believe if you read the psalms, you will find that Piper's teaching is rooted in the kind of spirituality experienced by the psalmists. I agree that emotions are not the basis of our relationship with God, but I believe it is wrong to say that an affection for God is never required. If a believer reads the Psalms but realizes he knows little of the love, longing, desire and satisfaction that the psalmists found in God, then something is wrong. Our society puts too much emphasis on love as purely an emotional thing, but I think you are wrong to make it simply a matter of willing ourselves to think ourselves into love for God. If you don't think emotion has anything to do with love, you better keep that to yourself--don't tell your wife that.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Quote:
Alex wrote - And of course the Bible never, ever, ever in any place teaches that our emotions are the basis of any initiation in service, devotion or contemplation toward God.

Alex, I did not read anywhere in the passage you cited that emotions were supposed to initiate anything, only that they were part of the whole program. IOW, they are not the engine, but they are still an integral part of the train.

Let me help, here is that to which I was referring:

Quote:
He relentlessly attacks the popular idea that obedience to God should be pursued from the motivation of mere duty, comparing it to a man who buys roses for his wife on their anniversary merely because it is his duty to do so. Instead, Piper encourages a pursuit for God that encompasses the entire person: mind, will, and emotions.

Pursuit is an act of initiation, it is a striving. Clearly here Piper equate emotions as equally capable as our mind and will of initiating pursuit and in fact, sustaining its strive, toward God. The Bible makes so such demand, makes no such equation and it is an elementary mishandling of both an understanding of what emotions are and the Scriptures themselves for Piper to assert as much.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Alex, I stand by what I said previously.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:
Just typing off the cuff here: I think you have to carefully define what you mean by "emotions." Yes, there are fleeting emotions, feelings that are here one moment and gone the next. I don't think Piper is teaching some simplistic "have good feelings about God."
Maybe you should stay away from typing off the cuff, no one argued Piper is making a simplistic argument, rather a wrong argument. The only issue with simplicity was your attempt to oversimplify my comments and those of Piper's.

Jonathan Charles wrote:
He is teaching something much deeper than that, and I believe if you read the psalms, you will find that Piper's teaching is rooted in the kind of spirituality experienced by the psalmists. I agree that emotions are not the basis of our relationship with God, but I believe it is wrong to say that an affection for God is never required.
If by affection you mean to use it as a synonym with the word emotion, then you are right, it is not the basis of our relationship with God but you are wrong that the Bible ever requires an emotional or affected response with your use of the word.

The word affection is not used always, and in fact less often, as a synonym with emotion. Affection is a comprehensive term that refers to those things we value. It may or may not involve emotions, often it does, but by way of anecdote. That is, when we say one has "set their affection" on something we do not view them as setting their emotions on something unless they are unstable, rather we view them as setting their thoughts on something that inevitably often involves emotional stimulus. But it is not their emotional stimulus that we treat as the basis for their valuing something with their affections, it is their thinking that gives value.

Jonathan Charles wrote:
If a believer reads the Psalms but realizes he knows little of the love, longing, desire and satisfaction that the psalmists found in God, then something is wrong. Our society puts too much emphasis on love as purely an emotional thing, but I think you are wrong to make it simply a matter of willing ourselves to think ourselves into love for God. If you don't think emotion has anything to do with love, you better keep that to yourself--don't tell your wife that.

First, it is quite correct to view that emotion has nothing to do with real love in its proper context which is the context in which we are arguing (for those disagreeing please do not use this sentence out of context, quote it in its entirety). But first let me address some statements you made:

Quote:
but I think you are wrong to make it simply a matter of willing ourselves to think ourselves into love for God

I never made this assertion nor does the Bible teach this. Your statement contains partly what is true and partly what is in error. Your love for God is based on your will there is no other basis. You choose to value or not value God. But it is not true that we simply will to do so. What do I mean? God must be known to be loved. And if you know God minimally as a believer in diapers, you can only have minimal love for God. You can have maximum exercise of will, even as an infant, but you will have minimal love because you cannot love what you do not know.

As you come to know God (which comes interestingly through the exercise of the will to value God's Word and to take the time to be taught it) you will know more of God to which you may respond with your will to either value this part of God (which is an exercise of love) or to not value it.

So neither I or the Scriptures reduce it to "willing ourselves to think ourselves into love for God" because this statement leaves out the process of knowing God. But it is right that love is an exercise of the will, not emotions.

You also state:

Quote:
If a believer reads the Psalms but realizes he knows little of the love, longing, desire and satisfaction that the psalmists found in God

It appears you believe that love, longing, desire and satisfaction are primarily emotions. They are not. Such contexts stem from thinking. Again, the emotions that follow are anecdotal, they may or may not be present.

As to the first consideration I re-submit that emotion has nothing to do with real love in its proper context which is the context in which we are arguing, either for God or for any thing else. Real love stems from thought. Now, the confusion comes on the matter for many because emotions are also present, but heavy breathing is sometimes present as well. Should be then require heavy breathing? No. Both emotions and heavy breathing are brought on by the thoughts of love. Emotional stimulation just as respiratory and circulatory stimulation, often are present in the thoughts of love, particularly initially or from times of concentration. But again, the basis for these is something superior, the thinking of love.

However, when we place emotions on par with our will and mind as Piper does in his distortion of their role and capacity, we assign to them traits or abilities they do not have. And this is why we are to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind".

Anne Sokol's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The Riley article on Piper has an interesting quote:
Quote:

It is this emphasis on being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution to contemporary evangelical discussion. Piper’s theology is in some ways a fresh updating of Jonathan Edwards’ emphasis on the necessity of right affections. It is easy in our approach to our ministries to reduce genuine Christianity to right doctrine and right practice, because these are the easiest to judge based on externals. Piper, however, insists that right emotions are just as vital as these other essentials. He recognizes that it is possible to believe the right things intellectually and do the right things morally, and yet have no emotional inclination toward God. He relentlessly attacks the popular idea that obedience to God should be pursued from the motivation of mere duty, comparing it to a man who buys roses for his wife on their anniversary merely because it is his duty to do so. Instead, Piper encourages a pursuit for God that encompasses the entire person: mind, will, and emotions.

First of all, where Alex is leading all this discussion is probably an erroneous exageration of what Piper is teaching, and basing on these few sentences, which are not even Piper's writings, is also questionable. Why don't we discuss the validity of "being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution"? Is it true?

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Well if you believe when a person teaches that the Bible requires certain "emotions" as the basis of our relationship with God and if you believe such a view is simply synonymous with "love and desire" for God and if you believe I accept your simplification, well let's just say that if you were up to bat you would have been called out by way of 3 swings and misses.
Alex, I don't think anyone here, Piper included, is saying what you are asserting here is being said.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Love is not an emotion, love stems from thoughts. You may or may not have emotions that accompany love. The Bible at no place and at no times demands emotions.
OK, in a way, I really hate this thought, it's a personal thing. I always grew up with my mom saying that love is an act of the will, love is not an emotion, love is what you do, etc. And i have tons of respect for my mom and try to be like (an am like) her in many ways. However, when I dated and married my husband, i kind of got mad about this. Why did Vitaliy experience emotional love to me when i did not enjoy emotional love to him? I really struggle with feeling positive emotional love for my family, actually, and I think this disconnect between love as emotion and as work/will/duty is mainly why. I wish we had a more integrated sense of this and not just fear of the "feeling" of love. The ability to "feel" love is a gift from God; it's how we are made in His image.

I am currently at the end of reading the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles, and David is especially a "whole" person when it came to being in a relationship with God. He did express his heart/love in acts (moving the ark, wanting to build a house for God) and in emotional expresssions (singing, dancing).

I guess what I'm saying is that I wish we could look at this topic a little more as being the whole people that we should be, not just cutting us up into deeds and thoughts and feelings and bodies, kwim?

Charlie's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
OK, in a way, I really hate this thought, it's a personal thing. I always grew up with my mom saying that love is an act of the will, love is not an emotion, love is what you do, etc. And i have tons of respect for my mom and try to be like (an am like) her in many ways. However, when I dated and married my husband, i kind of got mad about this. Why did Vitaliy experience emotional love to me when i did not enjoy emotional love to him? I really struggle with feeling positive emotional love for my family, actually, and I think this disconnect between love as emotion and as work/will/duty is mainly why. I wish we had a more integrated sense of this and not just fear of the "feeling" of love. The ability to "feel" love is a gift from God; it's how we are made in His image.

I am currently at the end of reading the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles, and David is especially a "whole" person when it came to being in a relationship with God. He did express his heart/love in acts (moving the ark, wanting to build a house for God) and in emotional expresssions (singing, dancing).

I guess what I'm saying is that I wish we could look at this topic a little more as being the whole people that we should be, not just cutting us up into deeds and thoughts and feelings and bodies, kwim?

Charlie Johnson thinks this post demonstrates theological maturity and an appropriate use of experience. He recommends that people interested in pursuing this line of thinking further should consult the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament entry 1071, לב (leb), or Augustine's works, or James Smith's Desiring the Kingdom.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The Riley article on Piper has an interesting quote:
Quote:

It is this emphasis on being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution to contemporary evangelical discussion. Piper’s theology is in some ways a fresh updating of Jonathan Edwards’ emphasis on the necessity of right affections. It is easy in our approach to our ministries to reduce genuine Christianity to right doctrine and right practice, because these are the easiest to judge based on externals. Piper, however, insists that right emotions are just as vital as these other essentials. He recognizes that it is possible to believe the right things intellectually and do the right things morally, and yet have no emotional inclination toward God. He relentlessly attacks the popular idea that obedience to God should be pursued from the motivation of mere duty, comparing it to a man who buys roses for his wife on their anniversary merely because it is his duty to do so. Instead, Piper encourages a pursuit for God that encompasses the entire person: mind, will, and emotions.

First of all, where Alex is leading all this discussion is probably an erroneous exageration of what Piper is teaching, and basing on these few sentences, which are not even Piper's writings, is also questionable. Why don't we discuss the validity of "being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution"? Is it true?

I'll tell you what, why don't you discuss what you wish to discuss and why don't I discuss what I wish to discuss. I am wishing to discuss one of Piper's outstanding doctrinal errors which misleads other believers. This is a service I wish to render through this medium.

As to where I am "leading" the discussion, I am quoting Riley who is surmising, quite accurately, the teachings of Piper on the matter; clearly not exhaustively but I am responding, again, to this article and that is what this thread is based upon. And contrary to your claim which is untrue, such views are in Pipers writings. Now, you can suggest Riley made all this up himself or that such views are not contained in Piper's writings but I encourage you to claim or imply neither because I am confident Riley knows what he is talking about and such views of Pipers have been published by him quite regularly for the last 20 years. A thread was created, I linked to a blog from the OP and I am discussing the blog article. I am following the thread and the content of main article.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Well if you believe when a person teaches that the Bible requires certain "emotions" as the basis of our relationship with God and if you believe such a view is simply synonymous with "love and desire" for God and if you believe I accept your simplification, well let's just say that if you were up to bat you would have been called out by way of 3 swings and misses.
Anne Sokol wrote:
Alex, I don't think anyone here, Piper included, is saying what you are asserting here is being said.
You need to go back and read the thread again is my only suggestion because here I am responding to someone who was responding to me so it appears you have misused the statement by me due to failing to grasp the context in which it was being used, hence your comment is essentially non sequitur. Context...context...context.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Love is not an emotion, love stems from thoughts. You may or may not have emotions that accompany love. The Bible at no place and at no times demands emotions.
Anne Sokol wrote:
OK, in a way, I really hate this thought, it's a personal thing. I always grew up with my mom saying that love is an act of the will, love is not an emotion, love is what you do, etc. And i have tons of respect for my mom and try to be like (an am like) her in many ways. However, when I dated and married my husband, i kind of got mad about this. Why did Vitaliy experience emotional love to me when i did not enjoy emotional love to him? I really struggle with feeling positive emotional love for my family, actually, and I think this disconnect between love as emotion and as work/will/duty is mainly why. I wish we had a more integrated sense of this and not just fear of the "feeling" of love. The ability to "feel" love is a gift from God; it's how we are made in His image.

I am currently at the end of reading the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles, and David is especially a "whole" person when it came to being in a relationship with God. He did express his heart/love in acts (moving the ark, wanting to build a house for God) and in emotional expresssions (singing, dancing).

I guess what I'm saying is that I wish we could look at this topic a little more as being the whole people that we should be, not just cutting us up into deeds and thoughts and feelings and bodies, kwim?

With your own words you state:

Quote:
The ability to "feel" love is a gift from God

It is clear that you distinguish between love, itself, the the emotions that sometimes accompany it. At this point I find whatever argument you are making against my view to be rendered impotent by your agreeing with me.

Anne Sokol's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The Riley article on Piper has an interesting quote:
Quote:

It is this emphasis on being satisfied in God that inspires Piper’s most valuable contribution to contemporary evangelical discussion. Piper’s theology is in some ways a fresh updating of Jonathan Edwards’ emphasis on the necessity of right affections. It is easy in our approach to our ministries to reduce genuine Christianity to right doctrine and right practice, because these are the easiest to judge based on externals. Piper, however, insists that right emotions are just as vital as these other essentials. He recognizes that it is possible to believe the right things intellectually and do the right things morally, and yet have no emotional inclination toward God. He relentlessly attacks the popular idea that obedience to God should be pursued from the motivation of mere duty, comparing it to a man who buys roses for his wife on their anniversary merely because it is his duty to do so. Instead, Piper encourages a pursuit for God that enut compasses the entire person: mind, will, and emotions.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
I am wishing to discuss one of Piper's outstanding doctrinal errors which misleads other believers. This is a service I wish to render through this medium.

As to where I am "leading" the discussion, I am quoting Riley who is surmising, quite accurately, the teachings of Piper on the matter; clearly not exhaustively but I am responding, again, to this article and that is what this thread is based upon. And contrary to your claim which is untrue, such views are in Pipers writings. Now, you can suggest Riley made all this up himself or that such views are not contained in Piper's writings but I encourage you to claim or imply neither because I am confident Riley knows what he is talking about and such views of Pipers have been published by him quite regularly for the last 20 years. A thread was created, I linked to a blog from the OP and I am discussing the blog article. I am following the thread and the content of main article.

This is where you are confusing me. This paragraph you quoted is actually a positive assessment of Piper; it's not a routing out of heresy. So that i confusing me.

Let me try to restate what your contention with Piper is and you can see if it is accurate:

You are saying that Piper teaches that God commands us to love Him and relate to Him/love Him emotionally.

You disagree with this.

Is this accurate?

For example:

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Well if you believe when a person teaches that the Bible requires certain "emotions" as the basis of our relationship with God and if you believe such a view is simply synonymous with "love and desire" for God . . .
`

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
With your own words you state:
Quote:
The ability to "feel" love is a gift from God

It is clear that you distinguish between love, itself, the the emotions that sometimes accompany it. At this point I find whatever argument you are making against my view to be rendered impotent by your agreeing with me.

I wouldn't chop it up the way you do. I think love it experienced/expressed by human beings in more than just physical service and action. God created emotional pleasure for us as well. I think you agree with this too. I agree with you that the feeling of love is not the sole or even the main basis of our expression of love towards God, and I dont' think Piper is teaching that either.

Anne Sokol's picture

one thing i am trying to communicate is that a no-emotion love is also an inaccurate teaching, or even a dismissing of "feeling love" as an invalid form of expressing love to God is also wrong. I think feelings can and should combine with thoughts and will in a healthy way when we express love. love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength. the faculties of the person are pretty evenly weighted.

I have more to say about this, but i need to go right now.

Anne Sokol's picture

been thinking this over.

I guess growing up I was taught this line of thinking: your emotions are untrustworthy, fluxuating, and even dangerous. They can lead you into sin. (Especially sexual sin.)

The thing I got to thinking today is this: what tempts us to sin? It's not our emotions. It's our lusts (James). When, for example, teens commit sexual sin, it's not just that they fell to their uncontrolled, untrustworthy emotions. Their thoughts, will, and desires where just as involved in this sin decision. Lust is not just emotion; it is sinful thinking, sinful wanting/willing, sinful feeling, etc.

So anyway, getting into denying or cutting off as unimportant or dangerous our emotional state is also an error. Learning to cultivate right emotions, or right emotions about the right things, would be a more effective, person-perfecting goal.

E. Rogerson's picture

Anne,
Thanks for your defense of love as more than duty. I agree entirely that love sans emotions is no love at all, and the cultivation of right emotions, ordinate affections, is the key.

Alex,
You said in response to Anne:

"I'll tell you what, why don't you discuss what you wish to discuss and why don't I discuss what I wish to discuss. I am wishing to discuss one of Piper's outstanding doctrinal errors which misleads other believers. This is a service I wish to render through this medium."

Perhaps you should find out if anyone is interested in this "service" before you render it. I promise this isn't intended to be snide, but if your sole purpose is to harp on what you dislike about Piper rather than participate in what is a fruitful discussion concerning issues in everyday Christian living, then please accept my respectful, "no thanks" as a decline of your offer.

E.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

E. Rogerson wrote:

Alex,
You said in response to Anne:

"I'll tell you what, why don't you discuss what you wish to discuss and why don't I discuss what I wish to discuss. I am wishing to discuss one of Piper's outstanding doctrinal errors which misleads other believers. This is a service I wish to render through this medium."

Perhaps you should find out if anyone is interested in this "service" before you render it. I promise this isn't intended to be snide, but if your sole purpose is to harp on what you dislike about Piper rather than participate in what is a fruitful discussion concerning issues in everyday Christian living, then please accept my respectful, "no thanks" as a decline of your offer.

E.

Perhaps you need reminded of the instructions from Scripture that it is not the opinion of others nor the expression of their want or rejection that determines our offer of truth to the world.

Secondly, perhaps you should read more carefully. I did not state that my service was to:

Quote:
harp on what you dislike about Piper

Rather it was to, as I stated rather clearly:

AlexGuggenheim wrote:
I am wishing to discuss one of Piper's outstanding doctrinal errors

It has nothing to do with what I like or dislike, rather about a specific error in his teaching that injures others in my estimation. You present it as a personal matter, it is not. It is doctrinal. Your epic fail, here, is in failing to carefully read and faithfully restate properly what and how I stated. This kind of failure lends itself to unfruitful discussion because it represents someone more interested in their agenda than the agenda which includes a fair and appropriate representation of the arguments of others. Perhaps you have become a bit emotional about my position and it has distracted your attention, I don't know.

But in the end, I understand you decline further discussion with me. That will be expected, I am sure you are a man of your word.

Anne Sokol's picture

it would be interesting to explore how our faith is connected to our love--what things we believe about God and His dealings with us and how we accept and express love with Him.

I'll read all your brilliant thoughts when I return. I'm leaving for 4 days for a post-abortion Bible study retreat; would value your prayers for us and the ladies participating.

Jay's picture

Bu5t Alex is dead wrong when he said that the Bible "at no time and in no place demands emotions". I think that concept is some kind of twisted lie straight from Satan.

Here's why I disagree:

*A correct understanding of the Gospel automatically generates a spirit of love and thankfulness to the God who redeems us from sin. Those emotions drive service to the Great King.

*Love and the emotions that accompany the Christian life are manifest in the life of Jesus, the ultimate God Man, who manifested all kinds of emotions, including love (John 15), compassion (Matthew 9:35-36), anger (Luke 19:45-48), and sorrow (John 11:28-44).

*At no time and in no way does any NT writer tell Christians not to have emotions. Bring them under the control of Christ, yes. Be careful not to be driven by them - yes. But kill them or refuse them as evil? No.

*If we aren't supposed to feel our emotions, then why did God create us with them?

*Furthermore, God Himself has emotions. Read the prophets.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Anne Sokol's picture

Quote:
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous ones,
And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
Quote:
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous ones,
And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.

If this post, which is without comment, is suppose to suffice as a verse that shows emotions are demanded from us by God, you are wrong. These are all states of minds. The emotions that follow, whether present or not, are subsequent to right thinking. You are not told here to produce "emotions" that accompany joy. You think joy, your emotions, whatever they are and if you experience them on these occasions, are designed to follow.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Bu5t Alex is dead wrong when he said that the Bible "at no time and in no place demands emotions". I think that concept is some kind of twisted lie straight from Satan.
Oh so now I am an agent of Satanic doctrine. LOL. Show me again where emotions are demanded from us.

Jay C. wrote:
Here's why I disagree: *A correct understanding of the Gospel automatically generates a spirit of love and thankfulness to the God who redeems us from sin. Those emotions drive service to the Great King.
Epic fail - defining love and thankfulness as emotions. Love or thankfulness is a state of mind. You may or may not have emotions but you must think love and you must think thankfulness for without those thoughts, regardless of your emotions, you cannot be thankful nor can you love.

Jay C. wrote:
*Love and the emotions that accompany the Christian life are manifest in the life of Jesus, the ultimate God Man, who manifested all kinds of emotions, including love (John 15), compassion (Matthew 9:35-36), anger (Luke 19:45-48), and sorrow (John 11:28-44).
Now you have just contradicted yourself from the previous paragraph. But even more telling, you now distinguish love and the emotions that accompany it. You have just made the point I have been making. No one is arguing emotions do not accompany our thoughts, often they do but often they do not. The bible does present this fact. But it does not always present our thoughts as "defacto with emotion" nor are any emotions that may or may not accompany our thoughts of love, thankfulness, joy and so on, commanded of us.

Jay C. wrote:
*At no time and in no way does any NT writer tell Christians not to have emotions. Bring them under the control of Christ, yes. Be careful not to be driven by them - yes. But kill them or refuse them as evil? No.

*If we aren't supposed to feel our emotions, then why did God create us with them?

Show me where I asserted regarding emotions that we:

Quote:
aren't supposed to feel our emotions

or
Quote:
kill them or refuse them as evil

I did not and did not come close to even implying such. You are free to apologize for misrepresenting what I stated. Something tells me not to hold my breath.

Jay C. wrote:
*Furthermore, God Himself has emotions. Read the prophets.
It is true the bible uses anthropic language and we are to receive it as qualified. But this is irrelevant since no one is arguing either point.

Jay's picture

I never said you were a purveyor of Satanic doctrine. I said:

Quote:
I think that concept is some kind of twisted lie straight from Satan.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Recommending a Twinkie break.

To say something on topic... I think it's hard to say whole lot biblically about "emotions," since they are a completely modern category. Jonathan Edwards spoke of "affections" and "passions" etc. I'm hoping to work through the differences in his paradigm one of these days.

But Scripture commands us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing is left out there, though "emotion" was not a phenomenon anybody was specifically thinking about in the first century.
What I've seen of Piper on this subject is that he is mainly talking about affections. What we desire. But what I have seen is also less than clear on the point.
In any case, the absence of a biblical command to do something should never, in my opinion, be taken as a prohibition against doing it... impossible to operate that way with any consistency.

Anne Sokol's picture

also that there comes a point of impossiblitiy in dividing up a human. i like to think of our makeup as like a spider web--all the strands are different parts of us, like our thoughts, our feelings, our will, our conscience, and if you start pulling on just one thread, they will all move.

i don't propose that alex is saying we should live and give no attention to our feelings, although that might be what he is saying. I think feelings are valuable part of human existence.

Anne Sokol's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Anne Sokol wrote:
Quote:
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous ones,
And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.

If this post, which is without comment, is suppose to suffice as a verse that shows emotions are demanded from us by God, you are wrong. These are all states of minds. The emotions that follow, whether present or not, are subsequent to right thinking. You are not told here to produce "emotions" that accompany joy. You think joy, your emotions, whatever they are and if you experience them on these occasions, are designed to follow.
So tell me how you "think" joy? I think it's possible, but i would like you to expand your idea here.

also, would you say that emotions are unnecessary to life in general? or what would you say is the positive role or reason for emotions or feelings?

are they just our "reward" for right doing? do we have some measure of control over them? do they serve some important function?

Anne Sokol's picture

i'm not sure where this is going, but i do a lot of work in natural childbirth, and it is fascinating how God coordinated the hormones of labor exactly to bring about an emotional high in the mother just as her baby is born. It is so exactly orchestrated physiologically--the oxytocin (the love hormone), endorphin activity, the brief shot of adrenalines toward the end so she and the baby are alert to each other, the oxytocin surge as the baby goes through the birth canal, etc.

This high plays a big role in bonding, in how a mom perceives herself and her birth experience; for me personally, I remember it clearly as the greatest experience of my entire life.

And even the physiology of laughter, how it releases endorphins so we "feel" good.

Interesting to think about. I'm not to the conclusions yet, but thinking.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne's post is an important reminder of how physical "emotions" are.
But I like the spiderweb analogy also... it's all so interconnected. What we think leads to feelings and what we feel definitely influences how we think.

So there's really no isolating one or the other.
I see two extremes when I look around the evangelical/fundamentalist landscape:
a) We're going to be all cognitive and avoid emotion as much as possible in worship and ministry
b) Worship is a feeling so we have to go directly for as much of certain emotions as possible (close cousin: the Spirit is not working unless you "feel" Him. He works in the affective realm and does not interact with the mind/intellect).

As far as I can tell, neither of these is better than the other, but how to find the path in between has proven to be far more easily said then done in my own life and ministry. Where I'm at most of the time: I don't believe worship/ministry should be all intellect but haven't been able to get far from that in actual practice without ending up in the other ditch. So we are pretty much focused on faith (how bad can that be?) at our church and there is not a whole lot of emotion (which makes one wonder at times how deep the faith goes... but there are also inhibitions. We feel afraid of feeling too much?)

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Aaron,

I think you're right. However, I don't see an emphasis in scripture to target the feelings. Rather I see the emphasis on targeting the thinking. I think this is something like the faith/works relationship.

Works do not replace faith.

Works are the natural result of faith.

Faith without works isn't real.

Similarly, emotions come as a result of thinking. But thinking without emotions is incomplete.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Let's hope Aaron took the deep breath and twinkie break he felt he needed.

Anne,

I have studied the matter of emotions, spirituality and God for a number of years, both doing independent research and reading Christian and non-Christian sources. You should not doubt your capacity to make personal or independent judgments based on your own studies. Yes, you and everyone must have the appropriate tools for such judgments but once they are in place the claim that it is "hard" to make doctrinal judgments or declarations about the nature and role of emotions from a biblical view point is simply foolishness.

Now let me tackle some comments that really, Anne, are for your primary benefit but also for those reading and of course those making the comments.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But Scripture commands us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength...though "emotion" was not a phenomenon anybody was specifically thinking about in the first century.
This is a sweeping claim with no citation.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
What I've seen of Piper on this subject is that he is mainly talking about affections.
I am talking about Riley's article and the subpoint of emotions with regard to affections that Piper asserts we must produce in a manner that is favorable to the divine. Piper is wrong. This is a critical error. Affections may include in its view our "emotions" but affections are not primarily emotions, they are primarily thoughts, it simply is understood that our emotions follow...an idea about emotions I have repeated and are observed constantly in Scripture.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
In any case, the absence of a biblical command to do something should never, in my opinion, be taken as a prohibition against doing it... impossible to operate that way with any consistency.
Here is the classic strawman. No one is making the argument that in the absence of a biblical command we have a prohibition. What is being asserted by Piper, as explained by Riley which appropriately reflects a teaching of Piper's, is that we are required by Scripture to produce emotions favorable or reflective of something spiritual. And where the Scriptures give no such command we may not introduce one. This is the most elementary point that rejects this Piperistic error.

Seconldy, where the Scriptures command something different, such as "be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" we then know that attempts to issue contrary directives are prohibited. This too, is an elementary point of doctrine and it seems rather startling to see it forgotten.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
So there's really no isolating one or the other.
I see two extremes when I look around the evangelical/fundamentalist landscape:
a) We're going to be all cognitive and avoid emotion as much as possible in worship and ministry
b) Worship is a feeling so we have to go directly for as much of certain emotions as possible (close cousin: the Spirit is not working unless you "feel" Him. He works in the affective realm and does not interact with the mind/intellect)
Of course neither of these cases is being argued. No one is suggesting "all cognitive" or "worship is a feeling so we have to go directly for as much of certain emotions as possible" *(even Piper does not argue this). Essentially this is a debate tactic, not an actual response to what has been said or discussed. No one has argued any of this or sought to contextualize the elements this way. So to whatever it being responded to here, it must exists somewhere else in another discussion Aaron had and he is importing it here.
Anne Sokol wrote:

i don't propose that alex is saying we should live and give no attention to our feelings, although that might be what he is saying. I think feelings are valuable part of human existence.

You are absolutely correct and I appreciate your study of the discussion and fair assessment of my position. Feelings are very valuable, in there proper context.
Anne Sokol wrote:
So tell me how you "think" joy? I think it's possible, but i would like you to expand your idea here.

also, would you say that emotions are unnecessary to life in general? or what would you say is the positive role or reason for emotions or feelings?

are they just our "reward" for right doing? do we have some measure of control over them? do they serve some important function?

First, when we have emotions without context they are irrational. That is they are without a guide, they have no meaning. It is our thinking that gives our emotions meaning. So when we have a thought the emotions that arise have meaning. When we have emotions are arise without thought, that is all by themselves, this is classified as an emotional disturbance. Often, though, people are very unware of their thinking and emotions arise from thoughts they are supressing, but still thinking though they will not acknowledge them, and they imagine something is wrong emotionally. This sometimes is a misdiagnosis of an emotional problem when, in fact, it is an issue with some unresolved thoughts/issues that give rise to emotions. The person in denial of their thoughts attempts to treat the sympton, "bad emotions" instead of the underlying problem, namely what is on their mind. But that is another category for another day, I simply wanted to acknowledge that for the moment.

Are emotions necessary? Emotions are not "necessary" as would the ability to think or breath. If one cannot think they cannot make decsions but if one does not have emotions, they can still think. They can make judgments. However, they are designed by God to be part of our experience. So I would say emotions are "intended".

Emotions enable us to appreciate beyond our mental processes. Possibly like an amplfier mixed with a 3-D mechanism. When I use the term "appreciate" I mean it both positively and negatively.

But those emotions are always to be the cart following the horse. Our horse(s) is our mentality. It is our mentality that leads. The problem with emphasizing emotions as required elements of an experience is that again, not all people will always have such an experience. Yes, emotions are a likely element of most people at many times but not an experience of all people at all times with regard to their spiritual walk or any case.

However, the element of the human mentality and our spiritual walk is an unalterable necessity seeing that it is within our mentality that we do our thinking, evaluating, and making judgments and decisions. If we let our emotions take over such a process then we become irrational, unable to learn, unable to response correctly. Yes, we think but we think with emotions which is not really thinking at all, it is reacting, emoting and irrationality.

But when our thoughts issue to us our views, the our emotions can find their right place and respond. So as you asked, with "joy" we think of joyous thoughts and inevitably joyous emotions follow. Yes, we are experiencing those emotions and they may last longer than the initial thought, but from what source are those feelings? But again, a joyous thought that does not come without a "feeling" is still joy. Emotions are expected and understood, again why emotional language is used, but it is from the thinking of such thoughts that the emotions are understood to get their genesis.

Anne Sokol's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Are emotions necessary? Emotions are not "necessary" as would the ability to think or breath. If one cannot think they cannot make decsions but if one does not have emotions, they can still think. They can make judgments. However, they are designed by God to be part of our experience. So I would say emotions are "intended".

Emotions enable us to appreciate beyond our mental processes. Possibly like an amplfier mixed with a 3-D mechanism. When I use the term "appreciate" I mean it both positively and negatively.

OK, Id like to shred this a little deeper; not sure where it's going. It just arouses questions.

It seems to me that emotions would have to be a little more than what you are saying here. I'm not disagreeing with what you are saying, but maybe wanting you go further. I understand that emotions are connected to thoughts; im not arguing with that.

I'm thinking of that guy on star trek who was the robot/human who didn't have feelings. Seems like youd have to say that emotions are more than intended. they are part of being essentially human and made in God's image. It that sense, perhaps God made them necessary.

I agree with the emphasis on renewing the mind, right thinking etc. I think, though, if you just leave it at the fact that emotions just naturally follow, that is perhaps insufficient. But i'm not sure where to go with this. it does upset me that i grew up with this teaching and was never taught or even thought about how to enjoy or cultivate the emotional sphere of love (I come from extremely rational parents who were loving but not expressive in the emotional realm Wink ), and now that I want to have pleasant feelings, they are no where near me, and I think it is a barrier to full closeness in marriage the way God intended it to be. I have God's peace even when I am fatigued or stressed, but it would be nice to experience positive and not just negative emotions that arise.

So I'm thinking through how I want to teach my kids about it. I think parents are a little afraid of "emotions" b/c of the powerful hormonal, rational, physical changes kids experience during the teen years, but how to get through that and not devalue emotional feelings while guiding someone into stability. . . . I'm still thinking about this. I appreciate your thoughts.

Pages