Sunday, November 05, 2006



Layla brought this topic up. Facts versus feelings. It has sparked some spirited debate. It seems a minor issue but I think--naturally--that it's far more important than that. Why? Because God gave us the ability to feel. If life perfected means the shedding of feelings as the ascetics recommend, then why were we made as we are? God really wasted a lot of time making within us the systems that allow emotion. Ask any programmer. Intellect is easy to produce or emulate. Emotion is nearly impossible. It's uniquely organic and a sign of God's touch in us. Jesus wept. Jesus sighed. Jesus felt compassion.

Here's Campus Crusade for Christ's model:

I understand their point. There are people who want only to feel God's presence. At least, that's the theory. I'm not sure how it works.

The problem is that there are no real facts involved in following Jesus. Not even the most dedicated follower of Jesus can point to facts on the order of the law of gravity that relate to God. The Bible describes events but our modern outlook on things doesn't allow that as concrete evidence. We've become expert at explaining things so effectively that life becomes a process of tail-chasing.

So, how do you find the right path? You let Jesus tune yourself to his guidance. His words, his touch, the Bible, experience and feelings all weave together to produce something that while not approaching what a scientist would accept as fact still works quite well for the construction of a new life. Bricks made by the Holy Spirit and a human heart may be invisible but nothing will destroy them unless the human being involved turns his back. The citadel of the soul can only be conquered from within.

Modern life makes this pretty easy. We're distracted, busy, and above all rational. "Just the facts, Ma'am." In trying to stick with the facts we leave life out of everything.

Emotions are dangerous. I understand the logic behind CCC's little train. Save the people some trouble and give them an easily remembered mantra to repeat when life gets complicated. The problem is that mantras just don't work. Endless repetition just leads to more repetition. What does work is leaning on God in the sea of confusion. Fact, feeling and faith weave together to make a rope strong enough to swing a life over the burning abyss.

Life without emotion isn't worth living. Purely rational life is heir to mistakes just as cataclysmic as those produced from pure emotion. Satan loves extremes because he knows that concentrating on one end or the other produces imbalance that brings the whole structure down.

Folks, it is time, and more than time, to run beyond an intellectually balanced Christianity. We need to be weavers instead of clippers. We need to be builders who use everything available to create beauty. Souls require wholeness for harmony.

There's one particularly dangerous idea that grows out of this little train, too. It's said that if you keep acting in certain ways that the feelings will follow. This is true. It's called brainwashing. It's blatant manipulation under the guise of doing the right thing. It looks good for a time, the smile on the outside, the great loving actions, and then the whole thing blows up not only in your own face but in the faces of those around you.

We're convinced that God can make no real change in us. We have to help him. It's an act, and the soul dies by pieces as the act goes on. Who are you trying to please? People? Dead end street, cul-de-sac, box canyon. Try climbing out of that with that silly locomotive.

No, it takes God's ministry to the heart to make real, lasting, stable change. If you're angry with God, tell him! If you can't stand the whole damned process, speak up! Do something about it. God is far more robust than we're usually given to think. If God were as he's usually described I'd have been hamburger by now. God is unlike anyone else we've ever met, and we need to meet him on his terms. We need to let him tell us his stories, and along the way to rewrite our stories. None of this is easily contained in a little booklet.

That's a place to start. A beginning follower of Jesus has a lot to learn, and some guidance principles aren't a bad place to start. The problem is that as you start you tend to continue, and that little locomotive just isn't strong enough to pull a whole life. It's a switcher. Only the Holy Spirit has the zazz to get us out on the main and pulling for the high passes. And I guarantee you won't bother with the trip unless you can feel. What do you think the engine runs on?

Addendum: Along with his heart-felt plea, my friend Craig sent in 1971 some of CCC's four-law booklets. Not knowing any better I used it as a guide but soon felt dogma's pinch on real life. I'd felt this all of my life. People giving me standard answers to unique situations.

Sometimes I got myself in trouble, and I can't say that I made a really good life out of what I was given, but I did make it through as my own person. More or less. And I'm still here.

Along the way I became fairly proud of my ability to figure things out and fix them. Some of the pride was misplaced, but now I'm a professional troubleshooter. Just goes to show that God, if given some freedom, really is good at leading.

Thank you so much for expanding on this topic here on your blog! As you can see it sparked quite a debate on mine.

What you wrote here, and in the comments to me on several posts, has made more sense than just about anything I've ever read. That's scary huh? :) Just kidding.

I agree with you totally. My problem is that often when I hear so many conflicting opinions I allow myself to get caught up and confused in what other's think. I think God answers me via the Holy Spirit when I try to figure these things out, but instead of trusting that, I think its my own answer and doubt myself. I'm learning.
Very solid thoughts here. Im glad you picked up on this subject off layla's blog. A few things I want to throw out there. There are *facts* that we can verify. Jesus was a real historical human being, He lived,died and was resurrected. Chriatianity is based on historical actual factual occurrences. God created us with emotions but they have to be viewed in light of His Word as well as the Holy Spirit. Mormons fall back on a *burning in the bosom* feeling experience as the fianl way they validate their claims to being christians and having the *truth* about God. If we don't have an objective base for our faith then all is relative and anyone can claim anything based on their own *subjective feelings* and say they are right since we are all human. I agree with pretty much all you said there larry just throwing in a few more points i hope make sense.
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