Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Question: What is emotionalism?
Answer: The English word "emotionalism" is defined as, "excessively emotional character...excessive appeal to the emotions...a tendency to...respond with undue emotion" (RHCD, pg. 433).
The Bible heart. The Bible has much to say about the heart of man, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4: 23). When analyzed, the Bible heart consists of intellect, will, emotions, and conscience (Matt. 13: 15, 22; Heb. 4: 12; Matt. 22: 37; Acts 23: 1).
Emotions are vital, but emotion must not rule the intellect. Fear, love, and joy are all biblical emotions (Heb. 12: 28; I Cor. 13: 1-8; Acts 8: 39). However, all these emotions depend on God's word for guidance, structure, and definition (cp. 2 Tim. 1: 7; I Jn. 2: 15; Jas. 4: 9). The elder brother was engulfed in emotion when he thus reacted to his brother's return, "And he was angry, and would not go in..." (Lk. 15: 28). Many people become blinded to the truth because their emotions are out of control.
Emotionalism in religion. Many organized religions rely on emotionalism. They work people into a frenzy and call this emotional, out of control condition salvation. Even during the time of real spiritual gifts, control and structure were to be practiced (I Cor. 14: 26-40). Christianity is basically an orderly teaching religion (Jn. 6: 44, 45, Eph. 4: 20). We are to "learn of Christ" (Matt. 11: 28 ff.).
Emotions uncontrolled blur and paralyze the mind. However, the intellect without emotion is spiritually worthless. The happy combination of emotion and intellect is seen in the Roman's obedience. "But God be thanked...ye have obeyed from the heart (emotion, dm) that form of doctrine (intellect, dm)..." (Rom. 6: 17, see vs. 18). A final warning regarding emotionalism: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered" (Prov. 28: 26).