Refined Definitions, Reminders

Feelings, Emotions and Truth

I recently had a discussion with another about feelings and emotions, what they are and how they ought to be understood and processed. I confess that attempting to understand and process feelings and emotions is an interesting phenomenon in that pondering them as separate from us to be dissected by us is precisely what feelings and emotions are not! Nonetheless, it is still important to consider because though they influence and affect us, they ought not to control us.


The essence of my discussion was that though feelings and emotions may be real and true, they may not be accurate. They cannot be treated as truth or trusted as reliable. They may be, but not necessarily so. They must align with the truth of God’s Word. Stated constructively, as we grow spiritually our feelings and emotions ought to align ever-more increasingly to the truth as we are progressively conformed into the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18).


This is the conclusion stated by Mark Altrogge: Feelings Are Real. But Are They Always The Truth? He writes,


I don’t have anything against feelings. They are a gift from God. But I’m grateful that early on in my Christian life I heard a truth that helped me immensely:


Feelings are real but they are not necessarily the truth.


Feelings are real – we truly experience them. We don’t imagine them. They are real. But they are not necessarily the truth. They may be the truth but they aren’t always the truth. If we believe in Jesus Christ and feel like God loves us and accepts us that is the truth. If we feel condemned or that God has abandoned us that is not the truth.


How do you process feelings and emotions? How do you help others to process them?

Pastoring/Shepherding, Reminders

A Prayer for Convictional, Compassionate and Collaborative Leaders

David Dockery, our Trinity International University president, preached this past Sunday at The Orchard, one of our local EFC churches. He preached from Titus 1:5-9 with the title “A Prayer for Convictional, Compassionate and Collaborative Leaders

Brief synopsis: In this careful exposition of the text, Dr. Dockery makes a case for how we can counter rampant “flexidoxy” (as opposed to orthodoxy). Churches need leaders who are above reproach in the home, in character, and in conduct (vv. 6-8). Churches supremely need leaders who are doctrinally orthodox  and who can both gather the sheep and drive away the wolves (v. 9). Trinity plays a crucial role in equipping a new generation of such leaders in partnership with vital local churches.

I encourage you to listen to this sermon. There are numerous encouragements . . .

  • You will be encouraged and challenged by the text of Scripture.
  • You will be encouraged to know that our TIU president upholds the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of God’s Word.
  • You will be encouraged by his commitment to and modelling of the pastor-theologian from the pulpit.
  • You will be encouraged to hear of his commitment to the local church.
  • You will be encouraged to hear of his desire for TIU to equip this generation to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the local church grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dockery will be one of our preacher-teachers at next year’s Forum on Expository Preaching held in conjunction with EFCA One. He will be joined by Phil Ryken, another pastor-teacher. Our theme focuses on the role of pastor-teacher: “Preach Not Ourselves, But Preach As Ourselves.”

Refined Definitions

The Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is the heart of Christianity and the Christian faith. There is a an increasing biblical illiteracy and an emphasis on loving Jesus but not doctrine. This cuts to the heart of the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, the statement is often made “Jesus unites; doctrine divides.” It is intended to emphasize Jesus but it downplays doctrine, and in doing that it compromises both. This means that when this sentiment exists, both Christianity and the Christian faith suffer.

Added to this is the rise of Islam that denies the Trinity. This has implications in two directions. First, how do we biblically and theologically articulate the doctrine of the Trinity? Second, how do we defend the doctrine of the Trinity when questioned, undermined or denied? The two go together because one must know something before one can articulate or defend something. As I often say, many Evangelicals could not fight/defend their way out of a Trinitarian paper bag.

Fred Sanders is one who is doing some great work on the doctrine of the Trinity. He wrote the book The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, some of which he taught at our preconference to last year’s EFCA Theology Conference. He continues to study this doctrine in preparation for another book, The Triune God in a new series New Studies in Dogmatics, which looks to be excellent.

As a part of his present research, Sanders ponders the unique way the doctrine of the Trinity was revealed, which is not like other doctrines. He believes the way in which the truth of the Trinity was revealed has implications for how the doctrine is taught. Here are the guidelines he has developed to support his thesis: Theses on the Revelation of the Trinity I simply list the theses with an encouragement to read his brief explanations.

1. The Revelation of the Trinity is Bundled With The Revelation of the Gospel.

2. The Revelation of the Trinity Accompanies Salvation.

3. The Revelation of the Trinity is Revelation of God’s Own Heart.

4. The Revelation of the Trinity Must Be Self-Revelation.

5. The Revelation of the Trinity Came When the Son and the Spirit Came in Person.

6. New Testament Texts About the Trinity Tend to Be Allusions Rather than Announcements.

7. The Revelation of the Trinity Required Words to Accompany It.

8. The Revelation of the Trinity is the Extending of a Conversation Already Happening.

9. The Revelation of the Trinity Occurs Across the Two Testaments of the Canon.

10. The Revelation of the Trinity in Scripture is Perfect.

11. Systematic Theology’s Account of the Trinity Should Serve the Revelation of the Trinity in Scripture.

A few questions to ponder:

  • Do you agree with my sense of how some Evangelicals regard doctrine, generally, and the truth of the Trinity, specifically?
  • What do you think of Sanders’ theses?
  • How do you help God’s people to understand the importance of both, which affects both life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16)?

Another book on the Trinity to be released this fall in the Counterpoints series is Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity edited by Jason Sexton. It should also be an excellent contribution to this important discussion.


The Crusades and Culture: Imbibing, Baptizing or Transforming?

The impact of the changing cultural scene has caused us as Christians to ponder the gospel afresh. This is a good thing. But it also has challenges. With these incredible changes there are often two responses. On the one hand, there is a temptation to separate from and form holy huddles of protection from the culture and those makers of the contemporary, secular culture. On the other hand, there is the temptation to accommodate, to update biblical truth, to become progressive in our understanding of doctrine.

As a parallel historical referent, consider the speech that launched the Crusades, which most conclude today was a failure: “The Speech that Launched the Crusades.”

On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II delivered the speech that launched the Crusades. According to Dan Doriani, some call it the most influential speech in human history. Everyone today agrees that the Crusades were a disaster. So is there any point in revisiting them?

Yes, states Doriani, because the case for the Crusades was so well-suited to the culture that almost every major Christian leader of the age fervently endorsed them. How did this happen? Why did most agree with Urban when most everyone today looks  back at the Crusades and see how wrong it was and conclude it was a failed attempt at Christianity and how to be in the world but not of the world. According to Doriani,

Every theme of Urban’s speech resonated with his listeners: pilgrimage, honor, land, brotherhood, knights of Christ, and remission of sin. Urban’s speech had unprecedented effect because it combined familiar and widely accepted themes, in a fresh way, for an exalted cause. . . . The answer is that he and his contemporaries baptized notions from their culture that are alien to Scripture: pilgrimage, the need to forcibly avenge affronts to the clan’s honor, the idea that works of penance are instrumental to salvation.

This raises important questions for Evangelicals. What elements of contemporary Christian culture are we imbibing and baptizing for a spiritual effect? What of that former culture are we attempting to salvage or recreate thinking it is biblical with no cultural accoutrements? What are at odds with the Word and character of God? How do we create another gospel which is no gospel (Gal. 1:6-9)?