Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Faith or Feeling

As a Pentecostal, I fully believe the present day inspiration of the Holy Spirit is available for all who believe. The works that Christ did, and the Apostles did, and the church at Corinth did, we can do, and even greater works than those. That is a promise from Christ, and who would dare call him a liar! That, however, begs the question, how does one receive that inspiration? Somehow that inspiration must be discernible or nothing could happen. It has to be felt, someway! Of course, that kind of thing makes many folks nervous (especially cessationists). After all, everyone knows that Christianity is a matter of faith and not feelings.

On one level that is most certainly true.
Becoming a Christian is about buying into an historical record. Accepting certain facts by faith. For instance...

Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth as a man. Fact. Jesus, the Son of Man, led a sinless life, never once disobeying or displeasing his Father, God Almighty. Fact. Jesus, the Messiah, went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the Devil. Fact. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was crucified and died for our sin in our place. Fact. Jesus, the Risen Lord, came alive out of the grave on the third day, securing our redemption and resurrection. Fact.

More could be said, but that suffices to get the point across. To become a Christian one must believe in facts about Jesus Christ, related by eyewitness testimony. Warm fuzzies, lightning bolts, feelings are not necessary, faith is.

When it comes to inspiration, the past can set a pattern, but the goods are in the present being experienced right now. One must feel in order to move in the Holy Spirit, but what kind of feelings?

Anyone involved with Pentecostalism or the Charismatic Movement for any amount of time can recount horror stories of folk doing bizarre, even the harmful things because of a feeling; or conversely, not doing what is clearly commanded in scripture because they didn't have a feeling. That CANNOT be moving in the Holy Spirit! Have you ever done something you shouldn't have because of a feeling, or haven't done something you should have because you didn't have a feeling? I don't ask in order to set up a false dichotomy, because ultimately, it's not faith or feeling, it's both.