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I Felt God...I Think
Author Thomas Hohstadt discerns the difference between counterfeit emotion that destroys and authentic passion that brings grace and glory to an empowered, twenty-first century existence.
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Reviews

"A book that gives us permission to pursue passion for our God without having to stop and excuse ourselves." - Jose Gomez, Worship Leader.

"...very provocative and rich...You have put your finger on the pulse of the future". Robert Webber, Editor, Complete Library of Christian Worship

"I love the book." Leonard Sweet, Historian & Futurist, Drew University

"...a great blessing...new insight into looking at God." John Bueno, Executive Director, Division of Foreign Mission, Assembly of God

"...deep insight...thought-provoking...remarkable insight...I DO believe you've hit the nail on the head!" Peggie Bohanon, Executive Editor, Internet for Christians

Description

Is your emotion friend or foe?...fact or fake? We must know. Emotion is reshaping reality in the postmodern world.

Creeds bow to passion...doctrines defer to mystery...logic submits to metaphor. The fastest growing churches explode from the experience of an emotion-driven faith.

And, in the secular world, the entertainment industry attacks us with unending sensory demands. Increasingly, we base decisions on the subjective feelings of a virtual reality world. Right or wrong, we "let it all hang out."

Author Thomas Hohstadt discerns the difference between counterfeit emotion that destroys and authentic passion that brings grace and glory to an empowered, twenty-first century existence.

Introduction

Emotions-or "feelings"-will decide future reality and totally reshape relationships in the twenty-first century. Scholars already proclaim, "Emotion lies at the very root of civilization" and remains "central to the issues of modern times"(1) . . . that "Emotions, not IQ, may be the true measure of human intelligence"(2) . . . and that "Emotion is central to the process of rational thought."(3)

Our senses, they agree, are not "nonsense" after all.

Yet, these words sound strange to many ears. Modern thinkers, true enough, have enjoyed dissecting life . . . taking apart any experience-emotion or otherwise-and promoting it as an end in itself. Their rational swords have "divided life to conquer life."

But postmodern thinkers refuse cutting life apart-making emotion or anything else a separate object of study. "Our mind, will, emotions, and beliefs," they say, "are interconnected, indivisible, working with the whole person. Any one of these perceptions may lead life . . . but not for long!"

Why? "Because they cannot exist separately!"

Yet, in a strange contradiction, even postmodern culture insists that life is bigger than logic . . . that awareness requires personal encounters . . . that reality must be experienced-including the experience of our emotions and feelings. They rightly declare that without feeling, nothing matters. For reality is personal . . . it is felt. And the relevance of reality is even more personal . . . it is even more felt.

Harvard's Harvey Cox echoes these sentiments:

Most agree that we are entering a period in which we will see the world and ourselves less cerebrally and more intuitively, less analytically and more immediately, less literally and more analogically.(4)

A New Paradigm

Television hurried the death of cold logic. We not only see the image on the screen, we also "feel" we are seeing it. Our lives are shaped by these hidden senses. Indeed, early TV mixed these feelings with the sentiments of feel-good, sixties hippies and the emotions of pentecostalism to birth an entirely new church.

This potent recipe was written this way: Early, we found the content of television through our experience and its meaning through our response. Then, into this sensory pot, history stirred the life style of the early boomers. Their free-love, spontaneity, narcissism, and do-your-own-thing mysticism, blended perfectly with the new medium.

And, ready on the table, stood the-until now-alien theology of Holy Spirit revivals. This ancient-yet new-idea insists that God is not an idea. Instead, the centerpiece of this theology stands on emotion. Its believers knew that New Testament worship was not possible without the Holy Spirit, and that this "manifest" presence still touches our deepest emotions.

Of course, these conspiring trends-television, the '60's youth, and Holy Spirit revivals-created a new church . . . a new paradigm church that has touched every believer on every continent and continues to outpace every tradition.

Its worship moves with emotion.

Virtual Passions

Still, the story is not over! Today, our youth and the digital age are both moving toward an emotional reality unknown even today. The young already know visceral images in their movies, videos, and CD's that have boldly merged spirit and body . . . mind and emotion.

These forever changed kids already prefer raw experience to objective facts . . . altered states to ordained doctrines . . . sensory intuition to literal statements . . . and multimedia metaphors to logical sequence. And their turned-on world moves so mightily, they even require time-outs to "chill-out."

In short, they anticipate the digital age:

"Personal computers" will become more "personal" than ever imagined. The digital age will become more sensory than ever believed. In short, it will prove a supremely sensuous, multisensory, virtual-realty, multimedia world.

This new multimedia, for example, will prove no ordinary multimedia. Instead, it will become a virtual hall of emotional mirrors . . . a kaleidoscope of sensory images . . . a meditation of multiple metaphors. Indeed, we will look back on today's movies the way we now look back on yesterday's silent movies.

Already, digital innovation-not possible without emotion-drives the world economy. After all, intuitive visions and inspired feelings deeply require each other, and the profit motive only deepens that bond. Amy Lowell wrote, for example, "Whatever (creativity) is, emotion, apprehended or hidden, is a part of it." For "Only emotion can rouse the subconscious into action." So the creative future and our prophetic passions will doubtless walk hand in hand.

Yet many disagree. They doubt virtual reality will ever be virtuous. They insist, for example, that digital sensory experience is only virtual-not really real!

But what's new about that? Every art form . . . ritual . . . symbol . . . or metaphor is "virtual." Their hidden feelings all represent something "not there"-something beyond themselves. And, no doubt, computers will continue crunching numbers, but these numbers will increasingly become the viscera of our passions-in the same way that film science now moves the moods in our movies.

Feeling Our Way

We've got to get beyond this silliness. Our own authenticity and the very future of faith depend on our ability to proclaim passionate metaphors-or vital "virtual realities"-in the coming age. Emotion-for better or worse-will become the underlying theme of the twenty-first century. Though the mind and will always play integral parts, all the trends-postmodernism; the new paradigm church; the New Millennium youth; and the new multisensory, virtual reality future-point to a new role for emotion.

But it's an emotion without definition . . . without guidelines . . . without caution. When such a free-for-all folly unleashes itself, the naive faithful and counterfeit prophets don't know whether they have "felt God" or last night's bean burritos. Worse still, this anything-goes, postmodern world continues to dump all of our "guidelines" overboard anyway.

Such liberty waves an alarming flag, and so far, most have missed it. All of our moods-love, joy, pride, anger, fear, jealousy, sorrow, or solitude-arise from either authentic or counterfeit sources. Confusing the source courts disaster. Knowing the source names the Master.

"I am He Who searches . . . feelings . . . and the [inmost] hearts, and I will give to each of you [the reward for what you have done] as your work deserves."(5)

So let the journey begin. . . .

Endnotes

1. "Human Emotion," The New Encyclopędia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopędia Britannica, 1994) 15th Edition, Volume 18, pp. 248-256.
2. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (New York: Bantam, 1995).
3. Antonio R. Damasio, Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (New York: Grosset/Putnam, 1994) pp. 48, 49, 159, 160, 234.
4. Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1995) p. 301.
5. Revelation 2:23, AMP. 

 

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