Worship and the Emotions

 I appreciate Robert Godfrey’s essay called “Worship and the Emotions” in Give Praise to God.  Here are a few parts I underlined in my copy.

“We need to be clear about the role of faith not only in justification, but in every aspect of living the Christian life.  The foundation of all Christian living, as well as of justification, is faith’s looking away from self to Christ and his promises.  There is a time and place for introspection to see if the fruits of true faith are present in a Christian, but the examination of such fruit must not lead us away from the centrality of faith itself.”

“Praise songs, which originated in charismatic circles and spread widely in other Protestant churches, seem often to express rather spontaneous waves of emotion.  But their use is carefully planned with an eye to the emotional effect on the worshiper.  In such a session of singing one can predict exactly when the hands will be raised and when other emotional responses will be exhibited.”

“…Emotions themselves must not be trusted as an accurate guide to truth, virtue, or the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Rather the emotions must be properly channeled and directed.  They must be governed by the sanctified intellect and will of the Christian.  They must be the effect of true faith.”

“When emotions are misused, there is a constant danger of manipulation.  It is easy for effective leaders to move people, especially trusting and expectant people, to feel what they want them to feel.  Easily the church becomes a theater where feeling and catharsis take the place of true faith.”

See chapter 15 of Give Praise to God for the entire essay. 

shane lems

2 thoughts on “Worship and the Emotions”

  1. I find the Psalm’s description of worship interesting. We are commanded to do certain things such as clap our hands, sing all nations, etc. in the context of covenant. There is a reason, usually a promise described as the reason for worshipers performing such actions. It’s always in the context of God’s promises granted in a covenant, not an individualistic, self centered and emotionally driven context, which is what we find so often in the current day. Zealousness and doing it for the ‘right reasons’ are not genuine reasons on why we can worship in the way we see fit. Thanks for the wise words, Shane. Lord bless you, your family and in Sunnyside, WA.


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