Ways Culture Distorts Our Minds (Part III)

Worship and Emotions

Every second of our life, our thoughts, feelings, motives, and habits are governed by assumptions about the world. In past articles concerning the ways our culture lies to us, I have addressed a few of the false assumptions we pick up from the people around us. In this article I want to briefly address the false assumption that Biblical worship is something that is primarily emotional.

If you’ve participated in an Evangelical culture, you have periodically noticed in others and even yourself the conception that the worship of God is something that is primarily emotional. In worship services, we get excited and “worshipful” during the choruses of songs which excite our emotions; our song selections on our Ipods often involve songs which contain highly emotional music to stimulate our feelings, and when we don’t “feel” God any more, our motivation to follow him often dramatically decreases.

First of all, it’s important to ask if there is anything wrong with emotions. We’re supposed to get excited about God, aren’t we? The Psalms are filled with very emotional verses extolling God’s greatness, so it would seem to be the case.  However, it seems clear that when the main substance of our faith is emotion, we are missing something. Why is this?

In the Bible and everyday life it is revealed that there is no correlation between the existence of “worship” and true worship. Emotions may run high; worship music may be top-notch, and all the right things may be performed, but according to the Bible’s analysis, none of this is an indicator of faithfulness. In Amos 5, God is portrayed reprimanding Israel for her unfaithfulness. He acknowledges the fact that they “worship” him, but claims that there is still something wanting: “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

In this passage, it becomes clear that “worshiping” or, paying God homage by recognizing him through song or ceremony is not sufficient to constitute faithfulness to him. In Western culture we have taken this idea, however, and stretched it to imply that the feeling lacking in the Israelites is what was missing in their relationship with God. We now emphasize strong emotional experiences as constitutive of a relationship with God, since the Israelites were constantly rebuked for not living their religion on a heart level. But again, this is not the answer.  Every day life teaches us that it is absolutely possible to be emotionally overwhelmed or stimulated by a movie or poem without life-change. In the same way, our emotions have become means by which we may “hack” a relationship with God in order to experience the pleasurable high of aesthetic experiences, yet without the most basic component of true worship.

So, what is the most fundamental attribute of faithfulness to God, from which emotions may flow, but which does not necessarily imply emotions? God in the book of Amos is clear: Justice and Righteousness. Without these components, it is clear that God does not consider our “worship” worth much at all.

How do we respond to this? A reasonable response would probably consist of a period of self-examination. Do you place too much emphasis on emotions in your relationship with God, and minor on obedience? If so, take time to worship God in spirit and truth, embracing righteousness and justice as a mindset.

WIM Going to Trembly Bald for Spring Retreat

March first and second, Women’s Intentional Ministries is hosting their much anticipated Spring Retreat. This year, they are spending the night at Trembly Bald, and hearing Professor Joyce Griffin speak on finding our identity in Christ. Sign ups in the student center end on Friday, February 22, but ladies can still sign up by picking up a slip in the lobby of Grace Chapel and returning it to student development by February 27. The cost is only $5.

Members of WIM say that girls won’t want to miss out on hearing Griffin’s heart. President Carrie Lyman says “When we fellowship with other women, we get to share about our lives and what God has done in our lives. It’s so cool to me that God has a way of using things we’ve experienced to encourage others. It will be neat to see how God uses Ms. Griffin to challenge and encourage us and see how we can encourage and build each other up.”

The retreat is sure to be a time of good fellowship, worship, and discussion. For more information on the retreat or how you can serve alongside the WIM team, email wim@tfc.edu.

William Lane Craig Argues for Christian Faith

On February 1st, world renowned Christian theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig debated atheist philosopher Alexander Rosenberg of Duke University on the topic “Is Faith in God Reasonable?” at Purdue University. Members from the Toccoa Falls College Philosophy Club and the apologetics group of Ratio Christi spent much of their Friday night watching the nearly three hour long debate together then discussed the presentations and rebuttals made by the debaters about the origins of the universe, the resurrection of Jesus, and many other important topics. Altogether there were approximately twenty-five students watching what I consider to be one of the most interesting debates I’ve ever watched on the topic. The formal judges voted 4-2 Craig, students and guests in attendance voted 1,390-303 Craig, and those watching the live stream (like us) voted 734-59 Craig.

Do the results of the debate prove anything? Perhaps. Are debates like this important? The twenty-five in attendance thought so. Does loving God with your mind include thinking about hard issues that make you uncomfortable? I think the answer is definitely a yes. Jen Doll, who attended our streaming of the debate, gives an account of why she thinks Christians should participate in events such as these: “The Craig/Rosenberg debate was important for Christians because Craig showed that the Christian worldview is logical and defensible. It also served to give light on how Christians should act in the face of opposition: humbly defending our position and not trying to force it down a person’s throat simply because he or she disagrees with us.”

The members of the TFC Philosophy Club and Ratio Christi get together and think about pertinent issues related to faith, theology, and society. The Philosophy Club plans discussions and activities related to events such as the Craig/Rosenberg debate, and Ratio Christi meets to discuss and learn how to defend the Christian faith, to show that it is reasonable. The two groups often work together to plan events since many of the themes of the groups merge. If you are interested in belonging to a group(s) that emphasizes the life of the Christian mind, contact myself at jordanbradford@tfc.edu for questions related to The Philosophy Club, or Tom Loghry at thomasloghry@tfc.edu for questions related to Ratio Christi.

Excitement Building on Campus!

Well, TFC, if you haven’t heard talk of the excitement, here it is: ROPES COURSE ON CAMPUS!  No lie.  After speaking with Professor Ernie DeWitt, instructor of Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness Medicine, here is the info you may be interested in that we can leak to your ears and eyes! DeWitt has answered a series of questions as follows below:

From where has the ropes course been acquired? The ropes course was donated by Shane Sullards, one of the adjunct Professors for OLE.

Where will it be located? It will be located in the flood plains, opposite the end that leads to the married student housing.

How will it get there? We have a class this semester called Adventure Based Education that teaches students how to design, construct, and facilitate experientially based learning initiatives.  For part of this class the students will help with the design and construction of the course.

What purpose will it serve?  The course will be used to develop and enhance skills that may be weak or lacking within a group. In addition, it can highlight the positive aspects of a group.  Most of the initiatives will require a group to work together to complete.  Within this process can come many thoughts and emotions that can be beneficial or detrimental to the group. Ropes courses like these can help bring all these issues out and allow the group to process them thus allowing the group to be better equipped in life to deal with challenges that may arise in the future. This is called transference of learning and can be very beneficial to the individual as well as the group.

Who will have access to it? It will be open to groups on and off the campus, but will require an OLE trained facilitator to use it.  This is simply for consistency and safety.

How will it be assembled? The Adventure Based Class will walk through the process of how to build a ropes course including supplies needed, engineering principles, safety issues and other considerations.  After this the class will be divided to work as groups on specific sections of the course. Once the course is completed they will have a chance to facilitate a group using the course.

How much time goes into assembling and strategically placing a ropes course? It depends on how large and complex the course.  If I were to take a guess at how much time we will have in this course I would guess about 1000 person hours.

Who will be responsible for tending to the care of it?  The instructors of the OLE program will be responsible for safety checks and keeping up the equipment.

If it is not accessible for all students, will there be fines or some sort of negative outcome for using it aside from adequate supervised activity? This is an issue that I could not fully address because I do not deal with fines or disciplinary action.  I can say that the course will have signs indicating no one is allowed on the course without permission from administration and/or the OLE professors and can only be used with trained facilitators. Many people assume that because it is a low ropes course it is not dangerous, but this is a misconception.

When can TFC expect the entire course to be up and running? The goal is to have it up and functioning by summer of 2013.

What kind of ropes course is it? This course will be a low ropes course. All elements will be under three feet high.  It will be designed in a three triangle configuration with each triangle being more challenging than the other. This will allow a group to choose their challenge, which opens the group up to many additional experiential learning issues related to challenge.

In addition to the low ropes course, the Adventure Based Education class will be constructing a bouldering/rock wall with a three part low elements course for preparation beside it.  This will be located next to the Christian Education Building, where you may have seen a lot of cement and rubble torn up recently. The excitement on campus is building; literally!

MAC Attack: Back in Full Swing, errr…Kick?

Everybody was kung fu fighting!  Those kids were fast as lightning.  In fact it was a little bit frightening, but they fought with expert timing…

 Perhaps they aren’t kung fu fighting, but they’d like to think the rest of that phrase is pretty accurate!  Toccoa Falls College, whether you knew it or not, has a Martial Arts Club!  Headed up by president Cheyenne Capin and Vice President Matthew Sanders, this group of students is a pretty close-knit family.  They had the privilege last semester of welcoming the newly acquired president, Dr. Bob Myers, to the team as their faculty advisor.  Since then, the group has only grown tighter.  Currently, they are meeting every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday through the end of spring 2013 semester.

With three black belts involved, classes are an impactful experience of acquiring practical skills involved with mixed martial arts, particularly in the styles of: Tang Soo Do, taught every Tuesday from 6-7pm by sensei Conor Van Vranken, third degree black belt; Tae Kwon Do, taught every Wednesday from 5-6pm by sensei James Priest, first degree black belt; and American Karate, taught every Thursday by sensei Micah Brewer, first degree black belt.  Together, these three form the crew the club has dubbed the Blackberries, with the help of autocorrect.  On Saturdays from 2-4pm, Matthew Sanders will be teaching grappling and submissions alongside Peter Sfragidas, who will be working with proper strength and conditioning techniques.  Students and staff are encouraged to sit in on a class to see if it is something they may be interested in.

Current members of the club are as follows:

Scott Arnold, junior.

*Micah Brewer; freshman.

*Cheyenne Capin; sophomore.

Cheryl Gaughan; junior.

Jake Harmon; sophomore.

Tiffany Hartis; senior.

Galwyn Hill; sophomore.

Travis Jones; junior.

Jason Kohl; TFC alumni.

Nehemiah McAmis; sophomore.

Brandon Owen; freshman.

*James Priest; freshman.

*Matt Sanders; sophomore.

*Peter Sfragidas; freshman.

Jose Trinidad; freshman.

*Conor Van Vranken; freshman.

Donovan Walker; sophomore.

*Dr. Bob Myers; faculty advisor.

[Note: those with a * by their name hold a current leadership position]

Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7pm, Wednesdays from 5-6pm, and Saturdays from 2-4pm.  The club currently meets in the gym lobby, and will have practices outside in the intramural field as the weather reaches a more bearable temperature on a regular basis.

While the club has already begun for the spring semester, they have only just begun, and are very interested in gaining new members who share their interests still!  They say the reason to join is as follows: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30, NIV.  We are called to balance our heart, mind, strength, and soul in loving Christ; while we exercise our minds academically, our hearts and souls spiritually through Chapel, worship, Barnabas Group, etc.,  we can exercise our physical strength to God through our bodies, strengthening ourselves in the skills of self-defense.  Not only that, but learning the skills of self-defense is important in protecting oneself, and a valuable skill in the event of a crisis situation.  Our goal is to equip you with these skills in a safe environment, in hopes that you would in turn use them for the glorification of God, in a safe manner.”

They invite anyone with an interest to sit in on any of the classes to see if it may actually be a fit for them.  For any further comments, questions, or concerns, you may direct them to Capin at cheyennecapin@tfc.edu or Sanders at matthewsanders@tfc.edu.  Whether you have had previous experience, training, or none at all, the Martial Arts Club will warmly welcome you to their family.

In short, their club motto seems to sum up MAC in a nutshell: “it is not about how much more you can take, but how much more you can give”