Saturday, February 20, 2010

THE QUESTION....


Last night, I along with my band, were playing at Christian Music festival. I had watched many young people, some very young, sing their hearts out to God in praise and worship. It was deeply moving to see and The Spirit of the Lord was moving in wonderful and mysterious ways. Three hundred singers, songwriters, musicians, pastors and supporters had gathered for one reason: To allow everyone to hear the new and exciting ways people are worshiping our Great God.


And then, something happened to me that caused me to think about something and I am in need of your help. If God is in your heart, I desire your input here, for I am seeking an answer to a very difficult question.

The daughter of our bass player said something to me. She said, “It has taken me ten years to realize that my faith has nothing to do with feelings.”

Could that be true? Does faith have nothing to do with feeling?

After much thought, here are my thoughts on this. I want to paint you a word picture so your mind can better see what I am thinking here.

For me, my faith is like an island, this island has no beach, only cliffs rising out of the depths raising it high above the waters. At the top is a large flat area firm as stone with no sand, pebbles or uneven ground. It is solid and easy to traverse.

The feelings I have are like bridges to this plateau above the cliffs. My feelings can take me to my faith. My feelings can also take me from my faith. The bridges are two way streets.

The Bible tells us God made us in His image. God loves, he trusts, he loves, has joy, and has emotions, therefore we also share his emotions and feelings but from a much narrower perspective.

Please understand here that I am not talking about belief. Belief is a feeling based on knowledge. Belief clings to the rope, but faith allows us to let go of it.

So is Faith a place where emotions and feelings end? Are they intertwined? Does one have nothing to do with the other? Is this young woman wrong or is she on to something?

Please comment. Lets discuss this. I deeply desire your input and thoughts here. Come back often and interject and dispute or support claims made here. The discussion is open.

15 comments:

Teresa said...

I totally agree with your analogy!

I do believe that there is a connection between faith and feelings. Feelings can have an effect on your faith, and how much or how little faith a person has. Feelings can help to bridge your faith and make your faith sronger or it can weaken your faith. But, your belief system should not be based solely on your feelings but in having faith in the principles of God or in the Church's principles in which a person belongs.

Jeff said...

I'm struggling a bit with the word picture. Let me try to answer by engaging in it.

For me, my faith is not just an island I go to or come from, but it is a dwelling where I will not leave. There is no bridge - the only exit from my faith is the ruinous rocks below.

So what are the feelings? They are the beauties, frustrations, delights, bad smells - those things which are there or not there as the case may be; those things which are enjoyed or suffered. I will have feelings which are good, or not so good, or no feelings at all - but I remain on the island. My faith holds firm. Whatever my circumstances (and feelings about them), Jesus is still my risen Lord.

Anyway, those are my early thoughts.

Eman said...

Thank you Teresa for your early thoughts.

Jeff, who happens to be my brother four years older and an ordained Baptist minister, has a different perspective. I understand where you are coming from Jeff, but I guess what I am speaking of is the laity: Those of us not indoctrinated in the faith. These thoughts you gave us show a view from the pulpit and from a man whose faith is very firm, possibly unshakable. But my word picture is designed as a starting point from which we can all relate, it may not work for some and I understand that.

Here’s something relayed by Gary at men’s breakfast this morning: He recently went to a Church of the Nazarene. During the service people came up to the alter and confessed their sins before the Lord. Gary decided to observe and analyze the actions of the congregation. What he said he saw was people leaving their sins at the foot of Christ but there were some whose body language suggested otherwise. What he saw was some people coming forward, confessing their sins and as they turned to leave the alter their body language suggested they never left the sin on the alter: That they took it back to their seat as if to say, “Yes, I confess this sin but I know I will committing this sin again.” This suggests no real repentance or, worse yet, they did not believe the cross was sufficient to commute the sin. Their “feeling” was they wanted to recommit the sin or their faith was not strong enough to believe their sin was washed away by the blood of Christ.

Is faith tied to feeling saved? Jeff says he stays in his faith place. Many do not. In the song “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” one verse reads, “Prone to wonder, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Man is prone to wonder. So what pulls him off the island of faith? Why would he leave if it’s a safe haven from Satan and the world? Are the God given emotions we have inherited one of the surest ways to stray from God?

JT Norlander said...

Here's my take.

I find good points with everyone, yet, of course, I don't completely agree with everyone. :)

Faith is not completely about feelings. Yes, there are feelings in faith, but feelings are not faith. I disagree with your word picture in that feelings are not the way to faith in Christ. That comes through God's Grace alone. Human feelings have a place, but are tainted by this world. Such tainted things cannot guide us to salvation, as salvation is God' perfect will. Therefore by definition, our feelings cannot gain us salvation. And, at the same time, we truly cannot fall from the faith. Yes, we wander in mind, but never truly fall.

To say that we fall and can lose our salvation is to doubt God's sovereignty to never allow anyone to pluck us from His own hand. Once truly saved, and not just going through the motions, we cannot lose this salvation.

Feeling is not tied to faith. I know I am saved, but I don't always feel like it. But I am always saved, no matter how much I feel to the contrary.

Hope that makes sense, just some early musings. :)

Christopher said...

I normally do not engage this subject as my Faith is personal. I do however find the question/statement intriguing.

First one has to to define 'feelings', are we talking emotions?

My take on this is really quite simple; Faith is the source of 'feelings'. An example would be that can one truly 'feel' empathy for another without the benifit of Faith? I dare say no.

Eman said...

Yes, it is intriguing. I am thankful for all your input and please keep giving your thoughts here because it will help me as well as other to understand the human condition better.

Yes, we are talking emotions. It was because of feelings about myself, mostly negative ones, that I came to Christ. Feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, darkness, being lost etc. all contributed to my movement to the truth that is Christ. What I did not realize at the time was when I first felt the grief, the anger, the guilt, the shame, Christ was there. He’s been there all the time. But if I had not felt those feelings, I’m not sure I would have been motivated at that time to come to Christ. That’s where the word picture comes from. My feelings brought me to my faith, or became the bridge, so to speak. But this person stated her feelings had nothing to do with her faith. How can that be? Is that possible? It’s such a simple statement but I am perplexed by the perspective of this woman. Women are, by design, more emotional than men. For her to say her feelings have nothing to do with her faith gives me pause. Please add to our conversation for I am deeply interested.

Christopher said...

Again, I say feelings are derived from Faith not the other way around.

I separate the words 'feelings' and 'emotion'. Any human can expierence 'emotion' but those who have 'feelings' can act on those 'emotions'. So if one acts as I gave an example of previously on empathy, then that can only come from Faith.


It sounds as though the gal in question simply does not know herself.

Eman said...

Yes we are talking about emotions Christopher. I would make them synonymous. I came to Christ because I knew I was a sinner. I had been wrong. I had leaned on my own understanding and not God’s. I had abused alcohol, drugs, verbally and financially abused my first wife though I never physically abused her. I had accepted Christ in seventh grade but I recommitted myself in 1990 and gave up my abusive behavior by 1998 because I found lies imbedded in my soul over time and felt remorse. So the feeling of remorse and guilt and shame brought me to my place of faith.

I agree you get feelings from faith, but what caused you to move to a position of faith? How did you get there without having a “feeling” that you needed to change? What was your motivation for the move to faith if not “feeling” something was wrong?

Nameless Cynic said...

Or could it be that your reliance on a 2,000 year old myth is blinding you to the ability to make yourself happy?

JT Norlander said...

if this was a "myth" nameless Cynic, then how has it survived in the same form for 2000 years. I think the fact that it's been this solid, this long, is a testament to it's truth.

Sorry Eman, I know that's off the subject, but I couldn't let that one go by.

I think that yes, emotion and feeling are very much a part of God and very much a part of us. The only minor part I do disagree with is that these feelings are the basis (at least how it seems from what you've said. If I missed something, please tell me. :) )
of your faith and how you came to it. God can use the feelings and emotions to bring you to the realization that you have broken the Law and need Christ as Lord and Savior, but at the same time, it is then not the feelings and the emotions, but God's grace and power. Feelings and Emotions as a base for your faith is shaky at best, much like the foundation of Sand. You have to build your foundation of faith on the Rock of God's power and Grace, and His Word.

Eman said...

Not to worry JT. I will always allow for standing firm against the assault from the left and the unbelieving. You need not apologize.

When a person like Bill Minnich (nameless cynic) writes an entire blogs telling his two followers that God is a myth, being gay is ok and Dick Cheney is a war mongering sociopath, we all know he was wrong on the first two but we are all glad he is right on the last one.
Thank you for your imput on this. your perspective is needed here!

Nameless Cynic said...

You're glad that the Vice to your favorite president was a war-mongering sociopath? I'm curious how you'll work that into you current mythos.

Eman said...

Bill...you bore me... Move on...Please! Go play "Comment to Myself" on your blog or something.

JT Norlander said...

thanks Eman. :)

I actually just had a conversation with some friends the other night about emotion and how it relates to the Spirit. I won't go through the entire conversation, because it was long and personal, but here's the core argument that I made.

Emotion in church isn't necessarily from the Spirit. We need to be really careful about having extreme emotions in church. I'm not saying some things aren't from the Spirit, but our emotions is a large pathway for the Devil and his minions. Our feelings rarely agree with what is actually true or right or going on.

Again, I'm not saying that some things aren't acceptable or aren't appropriate sometimes, or aren't truly worshipful.

But we need to be VERY VERY VERY careful about the unleashing of emotions in the worship and in the following of God.

God is a god of emotions, yes, but our emotions and feelings are tainted by sin, and are more than fallible.

Just my thoughts. :)

Eman said...

When you say, “God is a god of emotions, yes, but our emotions and feelings are tainted by sin, and are more than fallible.” It points out my position exactly. What I am doing is, my Pastor at my side, I am trying to get to the point where these emotions are not a 10 on the scale, but bring them to a one. I’ve never thought myself to be a person who makes emotional decisions. But I was seeing emotions surface in ways unhealthy and at times, uncontrollable. Telling you these things on a blog puts me in a very vulnerable place, but I am not afraid, for I know God is with me. I appreciate your input here and thank you for it.