Emotional Legalism

The church needs to be careful with emotional legalism, that is, the practice of realizing that spiritual deadness exhibits itself by apathy and then mandating emotional ‘behavior’ without realizing the impossibility of conjuring emotion by command.

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2 thoughts on “Emotional Legalism

  1. Will, some context in Philippians is helpful, for instance, chapter 3 (very personal theology from Paul!). Paul is always sure to give theology before he asks for a response. I think this nuances our understanding of what it means to “command” responses like “rejoice in the Lord.” The point is, we cannot simply “rejoice”, but rejoicing is always sourced “in the Lord.” Also, in “commanding” it, he’s simply drawing the implication of what he’s already produced with his theology (cf. Rom 12:1; Eph 4:1; the gospel pockets in the pastoral epistles). There is actually much more that could be said about this in terms of emotional holism and virtue theory, but my thoughts on these matters are still in incipient form.

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