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Afraid of Emotion in Worship?

Roger Olson asks, “Why are we afraid of emotion in worship?” The short answer is that we–as in we at Religious Affections Ministries–aren’t. Not in the least.

In fact, we are convinced that emotion is absolutely necessary to worship. If you’re not emotionally engaged, you’re not worshiping. Emotion in worship is important, so important that it absolutely must be taken seriously.

And that means that not just any emotion will do. There are emotions that enable worship; there are also emotions that disable it. Emotions are not created equal.

You can’t worship God by being angry at Him.

You can’t worship God by hating Him.

Seems obvious, right? But wait–there’s more.

When you worship God, you ought to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But all loves are not created equal. Should you love God like drunkards love muscatel? Like cops love doughnuts? Like Hugh Hefner loves bunnies? Like America loves Lucy?

Loving the right things is important. Loving them with the right love is just as important. Loving God with the right love is the most important thing of all.

That’s why we disapprove of some emotions in worship–not because we’re afraid of emotion, but because we think that emotion matters. It is so important that we absolutely must get the right emotions, or else we are sure to lapse into idolatry.

We don’t want less emotion in worship. We actually want more. But we want more of the right kind of emotion, of emotions that are suited to the One toward whom they are directed.

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Conserving Christian Piety
Kevin T. Bauder

About Kevin Bauder

Kevin T. Bauder is Research Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every one of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that this post expresses.

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