Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the Affections of Humanity

       "Affections are a gift from God to all humanity. Far too often the faculties have been 'gendered' in the church, for example, when people lump 'rationality' with men and 'emotions' with women. In addition to empirical evidence that easily contradicts such hastily drawn stereotypes, one should reject such schemas because all Christians are called to love God with their mind, will, and affections. Healthy affections are crucial to the life of faith, and numbing them cannot be the answer. In Owen's estimation, because the affections are so important to faithful obedience, Scripture often interchanges the language of heart and affections, for here is 'the principal thing which God requires in our walking before [Him].... Save all other things and lose the heart, and all is lost -lost unto eternity.' 
       The goal of the Christian life is not external conformity or mindless action, but a passionate love for God informed by the mind and embraced by the will. So the path forward is not to decrease one's affections but rather to enlarge them and fill them with 'heavenly things.' Here one is not trying to escape the painful realities of this life but rather endeavoring to reframe one's perspective of life around a much larger canvas that encompasses all of reality. To respond to the distorting nature of sin you must set your affections on the beauty and glory of God, the loveliness of Christ, and the wonder of the gospel: 'Were our affections filled, taken up, and possessed with these things... what access could sin, with its painted pleasures, with its sugared poisons, with its envenomed baits, have unto our souls?' Resisting sin, according to this Puritan divine, comes not by deadening your affections but by awakening them to God [Himself]. Do not seek to empty your cup as a way to avoid sin, but rather seek to fill it up with the Spirit of life, so there is no longer room for sin."
 - Kelly M. Kapic, "Life in the Midst of Battle: John Owen's Approach to Sin, Temptation, and the Christian Life," in Overcoming Sin & Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2006).

1 comment:

Psalm 40:16 said...

thanks for posting.