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Why "Religious Affections Ministries"?

Some may wonder why I’ve chosen “Religious Affections Ministries” as the name of this ministry. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Because the religious affections are important.

We have been influenced by Modernism more than we like to admit. Prior to the Age of Reason, Christians readily recognized the importance of the affections in the Christian life. In fact, the religious affections were considered the heart of Christian, for didn’t Christ Himself say that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord? Jonathan Edwards wrote an entire treatise concerning the religious affections in which he argued that the difference between true religion and false religion did not lie primarily in belief (although it is necessary for true religion) or action (although it will inevitably accompany true religion), but in the affections.

The Enlightenment, and especially later Evolution, considered man to be merely an animal composed of mind, will, and emotions. For the rationalist that last category subsumed all feeling – affections, passions, etc. Edwards and all other believers prior to the Enlightenment distinguished between the affections (the inclination of the will) and the passions (mere chemical responses or “feelings”).

Unfortunately, that distinction has been all but lost. I aim to help recover this important biblical distinction because since music is the language of emotion, it is important that we understand what we mean by “emotion” when we discuss meaning in music.

2. Because misunderstandings about the affections lie at the root of the music/worship debate.

Because the necessary biblical distinction between the affections (splankna) and passions (koilia) has been lost in Christian thought today, great misunderstandings about the nature of emotion and how music affects emotion has lead to misunderstandings concerning what makes good music.

Along with distinguishing between the affections and passions, believers prior to the Enlightenment also distinguished between music that targets the affections (Apollonian) and music that merely creates a physical, chemical response of the passions (Dionysian). That distinction, too, has been lost in our day, even among Christians.

I truly believe that among other important considerations, this lack of distinction between the affections and passions and Apollonian (modest) music and Dionysian (immodest) lies at the heart of the music/worship debate.

3. Becase it made you ask!

Because I believe the affections are so important and that a proper distinction between the affections and passions must be recovered if we are going to think rightly about music and worship, I chose to call this ministry “Religious Affections Ministries.” If anything, it has caused people to ask about the name and has given me a chance to address these important matters!

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.

One Response to Why "Religious Affections Ministries"?

  1. Hi Scott,

    Let me take you to lunch some day – at your convenience. Just about anytime after next Tuesday would be good for me. I have Tuesday and Thursdays that I don't teach until 1 so I could be ready by 11:45.

    Great website – great ministry. I will try to see if we can have you this Spring. Look forward to hearing from you.

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