Theology should do more than inform us—it should warm and stir our hearts. And if it doesn’t, then we have missed the connection that God’s revelation is designed to make between head and heart. The key is not to pursue feelings themselves but to pursue the Lord Jesus Christ by looking to Him, knowing His ways, pondering His promises, and obeying His commands.
Human beings are emotional creatures. We love or hate, feel happy or sad, angry or joyful. And yet christians sometimes struggle with integrating emotion into their spiritual lives and end up falling victim to dangerous tendencies when it comes to their emotions. These tendencies occupy two ends of a spectrum, and they have led many into a superficial kind of Christianity. We see these tendencies at both the personal level and at the corporate level.
One danger is emotionalism, in which we allow our feelings to interpret our circumstances and form our thoughts about God. This is putting feelings before faith. The other danger is a kind of stoicism, where faith is rooted in theology but void of affection. This tendency removes feelings from faith altogether. While it is true that our emotions should not lead our theology, it is vital to our faith that theology lead to a deep experience of our triune God.
Good doctrine is critically important to the health of the Christian and the church. But the church doesn’t need men and women who can merely define repentance. Rather, the church needs people who hate sin and love righteousness. Memorizing our catechisms is important, but it is useless if it isn’t also producing in us awe, humility, love, and worship.