What Came First- The Feeling or The Doctrine?

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do we realise how much our feelings guide us?  Here is a very general way to not read the Bible:

1) read the text and intake via the eye into the brain what is said,

2) have a gut reaction (feeling) and say “God can’t mean that/has to mean the opposite of that”

3) arrange a logical argument with our mind that backs up our feeling, often giving it the best possible motives (“it can’t apply now”, “it stands to reason”, “that was Bible times”…)

4) re-regard the text and summarise that it is a) incomprehensible (“beyond our understanding”) or b) nonsense (“legend”, “poetry”)

The middle two steps here (heart and mind) are not wrong, but they are in the wrong place and (4) is well, how can I put this tactfully… Wrong!

For step (2) we are warned that the “heart is deceitful above all things” which means we shouldn’t really be relying on it as our primary source of information.

As to (3), we are warned: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding“.  This helps us put things the right way round.  We can rely on God, right?  Of course, I’m only talking to those who believe in Him, here.  If you don’t that’s a bit like asking you to rely on the tooth fairy.  If you do though, you know that He is good to us, that He gave us His Son’s lifeblood, and that He loves us infinitely and that means if He says something, it is True, and it is for our Good.  I can’t emphasise that enough.  That’s what faith is to me- trust in things unseen, yes, but trust with a reason- that I trust the One who has made the promises.

This is the real step 2): God is faithful so His word is true, no matter what I think or feel about it, and no matter what anybody else thinks or feels about it (including being offended or upset).

Step 3) – Now think about it with the mind- it is a tool given by God.  If you lack wisdom, then pray and God will give you more!  You are not sitting in judgement on what God has said but waiting for our (infinitely wise and patient) Teacher to show you what He means.  This step can sometimes be ongoing for years- none of us understand fully everything of God in total perfection (well, at least, I don’t and have yet to meet anyone who does).

Step 4) We may now have to adjust our feelings.  Sometimes we just misunderstood something.  Sometimes we may just have to repent and trust that God means exactly what He says, but that His motives are also true, pure and good, even if we don’t fully understand yet.  This can be the most painful step, but crucial if we are to grow in understanding rather than letting our deceitful hearts win out over God.  This can also be the best step when we are full of Joy for accepting the love and truth our God offers us.

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