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Evangelical Religious Romanticism

Bruce Davidson makes some good points here about the romanticism present in much of evangelical sentiment. I think his analysis could be strengthened if he employed the premodern distinction between “passions” and “affections” instead of relying on the nebulous term, “emotion,” but his points are well taken.

He concludes,

By elevating them and exempting them from critical scrutiny, Romanticism makes intense emotions impossible to correct.  On top of that, feelings are changeable and volatile, so religious Romanticism can take people very far from sensible living, even into dangerous territory.  The history of the Western world from the advent of Romanticism makes this peril abundantly clear.  Religious leaders and writers would do well to encourage adherents, and especially the younger ones, not to make too much of their feelings and personal experiences, which the young already are often prone to do.

Source: Articles: The Perils of Religious Romanticism

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

3 Responses to Evangelical Religious Romanticism

  1. One of the strong points in the article is that he places John Piper’s Christian hedonism in its proper historical perspective. Lewis and Pascal were speaking against the spirits of their respective ages in an attempt to reclaim something valuable: a Christianity that was not merely rational and doctrinal. Piper is not doing any such thing.

    Piper’s Christian hedonism merely affirms values common to both the world and the charismatic movement. Both affirm that virtues such as wisdom and self control must be relaxed, if not set aside altogether, in pursuit of tangible experiences. That’s why Piper speaks at Passion conferences: if it’s all about tangible experiences, why not use the most powerful means for producing such experiences that people are willing to tolerate?

    Friends, that is called REVIVALISM.

    For some who grew up in traditions deeply suspicious of any religious affections whatsoever, Piper can be liberating. But he proceeds a good ways into the territory once known as “enthusiasm,” and he takes a lot of people there with him.

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