There is little question that we are living in an age in which emotion and feeling have become the trump cards of progressives. Rather than marshaling factual evidence to substantiate their position, they rely on testimonials or cliche’d assertions that are designed to evoke a purely emotional response. In the place of common sense reason and centuries of established social norms, they substitute the supposed superiority of self-esteem and feeling good about oneself. Even though the consequences of this philosophy are unquestionably bad for society, it has become the mantra of our time. Unfortunately, this philosophy has also taken root in our religious affairs. It manifests itself in the focus on doing whatever it takes to draw people to our churches, and to please the people in the pew.
So much of what goes on today in churches has no basis in the teaching of scripture. In other words, there are no express commands to do these things, nor are there any examples of early Christians doing these things. The idea of requiring a “Thus says the Lord” to justify what we believe, teach and practice is as foreign to modern progressives as making animal sacrifices in worship to God. They simply do not believe that God must endorse by His inspired word every aspect of our conduct as professed believers.
To reach this point, progressives have successfully engaged in a decades-long war on reason. They claim that those who rely on and require a “Thus says the Lord,” are actually disciples of rationalism as taught in the 19th century by John Locke. They suggest that such people are legalists and Pharisaic in the practice of their faith. They attempt to cast them in the same mold as the Jewish leaders of the first century, whom the Lord condemned for their hypocritical actions and attitudes.
They then assert that the only viable alternative to such hypocritical faith is to discard reason for feeling. Thus they speak of knowing Jesus and loving Jesus, rather than of obeying the commands of scripture. They cultivate an environment in their worship assemblies that is designed to create a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in the hearts of those gathered. Decisions on doctrines and worship practices are then based on how people will feel about them. The goal is, apparently, to feel good, no matter what God’s word may say.
All of this purposely ignores a basic truth of scripture. God Himself requires us to use our reasoning as we seek to follow His will. In Isa. 1:18 God called Israel to reason with Him. He said, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘ though your sins are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'” People do not “reason together” about their feelings. They reason together about facts and truth. In vs 19, 20 God said, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” The prophet added his “amen” at the end of v. 20, saying, “Truly the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
In the New Testament, God still calls His people to reason with Him. In Eph. 5:17 He inspired Paul to say, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” One does not understand with his feelings, but with his mind. In Rom. 12:2 Paul said we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, not by our feelings. Jesus said that we will be judged by His word at the end of time (Jn. 12:48), not by our feelings. The implication of these scriptures is that reasoning with God’s word leads to obedience and reward. Refusing to reason with God’s word leads to disobedience and punishment. Many will be lost because of the death of reason.