An eirenicon is an idea or proposition that tries to find harmony among discordant ideas. I have one of those.

I want to open an honest, no-pulled-punches discussion about emotionalism. I’ve seen a lot of talk about it pop up recently, especially in the context of the “worship experience”. It does apply elsewhere, though.

On the one hand, you’ve got people who basically don’t know how to worship God in their prayer closet by themselves. There needs to be a crowded room with a rockin’ band and a plethora of E minor chords. There needs to be “that” song or “that” singer or “that” speaker. They are what I will not-very-tactfully call hyper-emotionalists. They seek an experience that comes on quickly, satisfies in the moment, and leaves in a hurry. False worship, given what we know about experiences with God from His Word. A lot of hype, seriously lacking in substance.

On the other, you’ve got anti-emotionalists. They quell emotion within themselves the moment it is felt, laboring not to show or deeply feel…well…anything. After all, emotion can distract from or obscure the truth and lead you to false worship. To be overcome by emotion of any kind is to forsake truth in the moment, and to be carried off into la-la land where unicorns and flowers that taste like gumdrops abide. (That doesn’t sound half bad, actually.)

In the middle somewhere lies the eirenicon. That concept that points out that the opposing sides are both right, yet both wrong.

Here are some key points to understand:

1. Scripture describes on a number of occasions the emotions of God (all 3 parts of the Trinity, no less), many of which cannot be accused of “anthropomorphism”, or the attributing of strictly human traits to something not human. Some examples: Jesus wept in John 11:35. The anger, indignation and wrath of the Lord are mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:27-28. Sin is something that grieves the Holy Spirit, a la Ephesians 4:30. And don’t forget the many positive attributes of God that, if not outright emotions themselves, are closely linked to emotion. Think mercy, forgiveness, grace, compassion, etc.

2. The nature of God is such that these emotions do not arise on a whim, but rather are appropriate responses to various situations based on His character. In other words, emotion does not control or change God. His nature and character dictate His emotions. Anger at injustice, compassion for the poor, jealous for your affections.

3. The nature of us as humans is that these emotions CAN (but do not necessarily) control or change us. They can cloud our judgement and cause us to act differently than we otherwise might.

You can already see what the eirenicon looks like. This is a call to be reasonable. Understand that you were designed to feel emotions…POWERFUL emotions at that! They can be very good motivators, and they attract a lot of attention. If sin does not grieve you, injustice doesn’t anger you, testimony doesn’t cause joy and happiness, the thought of the crucifixion doesn’t give you pause…I would suggest that there is something very unhealthy in your view of emotions and their place in your life.

Concurrently, examine yourself. Why did you cry during that song? Why were you shaking uncontrollably during that last sermon? Why were you brimming with excitement? Nobody is saying that you can’t experience those things. Well, some are. But don’t listen to them. You can…but are they rooted in God’s truth? Is there a clear reason for your emotional response? Does it mimic Godly character, or earthly chaos? Answer these questions truthfully. Ignoring them means that at the end of your time on this earth, you might well hear Jesus say ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’. You might be too busy worshiping yourself and your feelings to see what God actually has in store for you…

…much like the anti-emotionlists.

Funny how that works.

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