Tuesday, 23 December 2014

William Wilberforce 1779 Book condensed: Section II

Sect. II On the Admission of the Passions into Religion (Part A)

Question: If we express our love for Jesus are we replacing reason with emotionalism?

Reason is indeed important, but Love is not in itself against Reason and in Christianity Jesus would be the proper object of love. So the real question is: “Does a religion that honours reason exclude expressions of love?”

Popular opinion does seem to be that affection is out of place in religion. People see that various extremists exhibit this kind of behaviour so to 'spike their guns' they say “Religion must be cold and cerebral” but really this is like chopping off someone's head to cure their toothache.

Surely humans possess the capacity for passion for a good reason. Certainly in us sinful humans our passions need to be controlled by reason and conscience, but that does not mean passions should be completely erased - That is barbaric. Christianity can do better. Christianity aims to bring all our human faculties into balance and control, to bring our whole person into wholeness in Christ.

The Bible is clear that God values all our affections – Love; Zeal; Gratitude; Joy; Hope; Trust. Offering all these to God is commended as our acceptable worship.

Just as the Bible praises offering these passions to God it condemns having a cold hard unfeeling heart towards God as criminal. It even says if we are only lukewarm towards God it make him want to vomit and that God wants to take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts that feel.

Paul longed for converts to “abound more and more in love”. Worship that stirs the feelings, especially using music and singing is set forth in the scriptures. For passion take Paul – this zealous persecutor when confronted by Christ became more, not less zealous, but now for Christ instead of against.

Finally – the worship and service of the glorified spirits in heaven, is not represented to us a cold intellectual investigation, but as the worship and service of gratitude and love. And surely it will not be disputed, that it should be even here the humble endeavour of those, who are promised while on earth “to be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” to bring their hearts into a capacity for joining in those everlasting praises.”

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