I think that one of the challenges for a biblical counselor is ministering to the person who has been heavily psychologized and tends to live by their emotions as if emotions were centers of truth. More than once over the course of many years of ministering to people I’ve said, “I do not care what you feel, but do care what you believe.”
Of course I do care about what a person may feel but it’s important for that person to come to terms with the fact that emotions are but one aspect of the soul, are God-given, and designed to illustrate what is going on in their soul (heart). That thought is usually counter-cultural and for many a paradigm shift in their thinking.
In Faith and Feelings: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life Pastor Brian Borgman has written a useful book that lays out a biblical doctrine of emotions.
The first part (Parts 1 & 2) of the book lays out a biblical foundation for understanding our emotions while the second part of the book (Parts 3 & 4) is application as Pastor Borgman discusses the emotions common to man in depression, sinful anger, fear, worry, anxiety, unforgiveness and bitterness. Part 4 is the application of cultivating Godly emotions using Jesus as our model and then the importance of biblical thinking.
I think it’s important to qualify Pastor Borgman’s use of terms “Godly emotions.”
The expression at face value seems to indicate that positive emotions such as joy, a sense of contentment or happiness are automatically “Godly” while the negative emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness (depression) and discontentment are “ungodly.”
All of our emotions are God-given and in and of themselves are neither Godly or ungodly. Emotions serve or function as warning lights like the lights on the dashboard of a car. They tell you something about what is going on under the hood. What may be going on under the hood may be Godly or ungodly and that’s why the person needs to give the inner man a good hard look especially when the emotions are chronically negative.
To be fair here Pastor Borgman would not argue with me on this and probably consider my point to be a quibble. Fair enough.
As I said I found the book useful especially because it fills a needed niche in the biblical counseling world and so “liked” means to me recommended. The book is well researched, well foot-noted and has a Scripture index.
I got my copy at Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, IN. It’s one of the best biblical counseling bookstores around. Faith Baptist Bookstore link