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Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life Paperback – April 1, 2009
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"Brian Borgman has written a wonderfully Christ-centered and God-glorifying book about how, by God's grace, to restore your emotions to God's image. Feelings and Faith paints a biblically accurate picture of, as the Puritan pastors expressed it, 'holy emotions.' It does not dismiss emotions as some do nor does it worship emotions as some do. This is an important book and I highly recommend it."
—Martha Peace, biblical counselor; author, The Excellent Wife
"Here is a readable but comprehensive study that unites in biblical friendship the Christian's theology and experience. With the heart of a pastor, Brain Borgman offers an emotional life line that will stabilize your heart and support your faith. Faith and Feelings needs to be in your personal library. I will return to it time and again-so will you!"
—Jani Ortlund, Executive Vice President, Renewal Ministries; author, Fearlessly Feminine and His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy
"As Christians, who hasn't been confused about the relationship between our faith and our feelings? Are feelings an incredibly important part of your faith, giving you heart-felt ways to express love to God and others, or are they actually to be jettisoned from your faith, being perceived as something dangerous in your relationship to Christ? In this immensely profitable book, Brian Borgman, a very sure-footed guide to this topic, biblically and precisely explains the concept of emotion and how it is to be integrated into one's walk with the Lord. I know of no other book quite like it. All at once, it is Scriptural, wise, clear, pastoral, transparent, and compelling. This is a great resource for instance, for a pastor who desires help in skillfully shepherding his sheep. It is also a wonderful help for a discipler and/or counselor who wants to instruct his disciples and counselees with their fears, worries, and anxieties. Even further, the principles in this work should prove to be of real, lasting value to any believer in Jesus who earnestly yearns to first grasp and then harness his or her own emotions within the context of a sensate culture that is quickly careening out of emotional control. For all who read this book, we should genuinely applaud Pastor Borgman's diligent efforts in now bringing us the most helpful volume available on the subject of Faith and Feelings."
—Lance Quinn, Senior Pastor, Thousand Oaks Bible Church, Thousand Oaks, California
"Brian Borgman has done a lot of work on this crucial topic and it really shows. Emotion is one of the least understood topics in our Bible studies and churches and this is a strong contribution to the discussion. I am thankful to have read Feelings and Faith and know others will also benefit from it. It has been a privilege to get to know Brian and his pastor's heart for God's people, which shines through clearly on these pages."
—Matthew Elliott, Author, Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart; Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament
"Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught us that if we see truth clearly, we must feel it. Authentic faith in the supreme, indomitable goodness of God in sending Jesus Christ as our substitute and redeemer necessarily transforms our feelings. The Holy Spirit awakens earnest love for others from a pure heart (I Peter 1:22), joyful acceptance of loss (Heb. 10:34), and cheerful generosity (II Cor. 9:7). Pastor Brian Borgman's Feelings and Faith stands in the great tradition of Desiring God by John Piper and Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Borgman clearly sets forth the foundational role of truth, unpacks a robust theology of Christian experience, and provides examples of how to mortify sinful emotions and cultivate godly ones. I highly recommend this book."
—Alex Chediak, Associate Professor of Engineering and Physics, California Baptist University; Author, With One Voice
About the Author
Brian S. Borgman (DMin, Westminster Seminary California) is the founding pastor of Grace Community Church in Minden, Nevada. He is the author of My Heart for Thy Cause. He and his wife have three children and live in northwestern Nevada.
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In Part 1 Borgman lays the theological foundations for understanding the emotions, arguing: (1) that God is an intensely emotional being; (2) that Jesus Christ, as the God-man, is an example to us of a perfect emotional life; (3) that the Word of God is written to stir us emotionally; (4) that the work of Christ involves redeeming the whole man, which includes conforming us emotionally into the image of Jesus Christ himself.
Part 2 examines sanctification and the emotions. Borgman argues convincingly that God commands us to have and display certain emotions while putting to death ungodly emotions. This is bound to challenge the prevailing view that it is impossible to control our emotions. Borgman argues, however, that since the emotions are intimately tied to our beliefs, values, and judgments, renewing one's mind is essential to emotional change.
In Part 3 Borgman describes how to put to death ungodly emotions. He includes individual chapters on (1) sinful anger, (2) unforgiveness and bitterness, (3) fear, anxiety, and worry, and (4) depression. These chapters display unusual insight rooted in Borgman's many years of pastoral ministry. If you want to grow in your own sanctification and help others, these chapters are a goldmine. Finally, Part 4 details many practical ways that the Christian can cultivate godly emotions in their life.
Brian Borgman has given a great and timely gift to the body of Christ. This book is practical theology at its best, offering real hope to those who "feel" helpless to change their emotional lives. It avoids focusing solely on feelings themselves, and shows how the allegiances of our hearts affect our emotions. Every Christian will profit from this book. Pastors will be better equipped to counsel, and lay people will learn how to fight for joy by killing unbelief. If you are confused about the role of emotions or just want to grow in your faith, "Feelings and Faith" is sure to challenge, instruct, and inspire.
After a brief introduction explaining and defining emotions, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life begins with the understanding that since we are made in God's image, we must look to the character of God as our guide for our character, including our emotions. Borgman takes the view that God does have emotions (contra the "divine impassibility" view that has been held by many theologians). He consequently explores God's emotions as revealed throughout the Bible and shows how the make-up of our emotions went astray due to the fall.
Our status resulting from the fall naturally leads to who we are in Christ. Borgman progresses to show the necessity of God's authoritative truth for our complete sanctification. He contends that certain truths are essential to our transformation (he refers to them as "oxygen truths" as we cannot grow spiritually without them): the character of God, justification, and future glory. Also considered is how spiritual experiences should relate to our emotions and how the Bible can help us cultivate godly emotions.
The third section of the book gets rather practical by seeking the mortification of ungodly emotions. Borgman explores sinful anger, unforgiveness, fear and worry, and depression by carefully considering what the Bible says and providing a game plan to mortify the emotions.
The remainder of the chapters are focused specifically on cultivating godly emotions. Borgman spends quality time looking at the pattern Jesus set noting that "It belongs to the truth of our Lord's humanity that he was subject to all sinless emotions." (B.B. Warfield) He reflects on the necessary connection between biblical thinking and godly emotions and proceeds to discuss emotions as they relate to worship, preaching, relationships, Bible study and prayer, and meditation. The book concludes with an appendix returning to the question of divine impassibility. He contends that our view of God is diminished if we understand Scripture's emotional descriptions of God as mere metaphors.
I know of only one other book that deals generally with thinking biblically about emotions. Yet, it is a subject to which Christians today desperately need to give more thought. So I am thankful to Brian Borgman not only for addressing this important subject, but for doing so in a way that is clear, biblically instructive, and immensely practical. Feelings and Faith reminds us that God wants to redeem our entire being- heart, soul, mind and strength that He has expressed the keys to the sanctification throughout the Bible.
Borgman avoids the dangers of exalting emotions too highly or denigrating them to having no place in the Christian life. Indeed, we ought to feel and we ought to feel rightly. Particular chapters struck me more than others, due to my own struggles and experiences, and readers will likely vary on which points they found most challenging. As a general treatise on the topic, Feelings and Faith is the sort of book I expect to return to throughout my life in an effort to cultivate godly emotions.