09. FAITH: “EMOTIONALISM” IS NOT THE SAME AS “EMOTIONAL”
Emotions are spiritual. God is an emotional being. We were created in God’s likeness and image, including the ability to emote. Emotions are designed by God for creation. However, “emotional” and “emotionalism” are not the same.
Many confuse “emotional” with “emotionalism”. “Emotionalism” is an erratic, chaotic, and random submission to surging feelings. “Emotional” is simply the ability to possess, tune into, and leverage emotions.
“Emotionalism” is the elevation of our subjective feelings as an equal or higher standard of truth to all others. Emotionalism is when we assume, “If it feels good do it,” “Follow your feelings,” or “Feelings don’t lie.”
In a Christian context, emotionalism is when we interpret how we feel, or the mood we are in, as our ultimate truth and authority.
Often, our emotions have narratives that are in conflict with God’s Word. As an example, a person feels that God hasn’t forgiven them yet, even though they have asked Him to. They just haven’t activated the experience of His forgiveness within themselves to realize the real truth that God has already forgiven them. While they are capable of immediately feeling His forgiveness… they may be incompetent to do so. They could develop the skills and brain support to manage the emotional experiences. For now, they just don’t know how yet.
Through the skill of intentional stimulation, both of neurons and neurochemicals, they will eventually be able to trigger feelings of God’s kindness, graciousness and forgiveness. This too is the renewing of the mind that brings about transformation of life.
Emotionalism is loyalty to emotions as an ultimate and final authority of truth. If we were presented with what God says in His objective truth (The Bible) - that He has already forgiven us - but we continue to embrace our feelings as the greatest truth, this describes “emotionalism” (and relativism). This is different from being “emotional.”
“Emotional” is simply tuning into the gift of emotions to explore the happenings below our conscious surfaces. It is there that we can present God’s truth to reprogram our false emotional beliefs.
Again, “emotional” simply means that emotions are an essential part of acting, behaving, talking, obeying and believing. We can be emotional without adhering to emotionalism. To be an emotional Christian means that we are intentionally utilizing the gifts of our emotions to support us in worship to God and to inform us of data, narratives and disintegrations within our own heart and soul.
Faith is an “emotional” happening that is born out of the spiritual substance of God’s Word. When faith is integrated through our heart and soul it will have such emotion that we will feel compelled to swing over the pit of hell on a corn stock and spit in the devil’s eye. In the face of chaos, we will sit calmly - while all hell is breaking loose around us – and we’ll say with emotional authenticity, “greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.”
If faith is not emotional, it is not faith at all. For clarity, this does not mean that faith is bouncing off the walls with dramatic intensity. For faith to be emotional means that we possess the emotional fortitude to stand in the face of opposing scripts, and with joy possess God’s promises. The Apostle Paul said, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing… (Romans 15:13).” True Bible faith has emotional integrations. If there is no emotion - no joy and peace in believing - the faith people present is nothing at this point but mental assents, aspirations and reasoning. True Bible faith means we are living fully integrated from heart to soul to body.
Emotional faith means that we stay steady, true, bold, and unyielding to fear stimuli… all while maintaining authenticity deep within our souls. We don’t have to put on a front, or fake it till we make it. We don’t ignore the fear stimuli, or suppress it. We instead investigate the narratives, finding the root sources of the fear, and confront it with truth.
We build new emotional circuits that align with truth. This emotional building and faith integration happens by hearing God’s Word, imagining (meditating) what God’s love has provided in promise of protection, declaring with authority what God has redeemed us from, worshipping with emotions our God as Lover and Defender, sharing in the community of believers for supernatural encouragement, as well as engaging all other spiritual disciplines.
Emotional faith means that we are living by real faith. We are no longer satisfied with a simple form, a mental assenting, nor a presentation of faith that lacks depth of emotion. But, now we are really living by faith. Just like a plastic tree can look like a tree, so can plastic faith show a form. A plastic tree will never produce. Plastic faith will never produce either. When faith is matured within us it is because we are aligned with our intents, cognitions, values, emotions and energies. We will have joy and peace in believing!
SEGWAY TO FUTURE ENEWSLETTERS
In future e-newsletters we will continue this exploration with the following ideas:
The devil targets emotions but the emotions are our gifts, not our enemy.
Emotions aren’t what randomly happen TO us; they are to happen WITH us.
Also, you can see the following in our past few ENewsletter posts:
Emotions are spiritual.
God is an emotional being.
God’s emotions are unique in contrast to human emotions.
Emotions are purposed and can be studied.
Emotions are experiential – You can’t have an experience without an emotional component.
“Emotionalism” is not the same as “emotional”.
QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON
What skill level do you presently have for following the emotional narrative-trail to find the deepest part of disruptive and misaligned thought roots?
How will you take “next steps” to mature in emotional intelligence?
Who will you invite to guide you in your journey?