Faith and Feelings Part Two – MLJ on why we can't rely on feelings

Regular readers of this blog will know that I sit firmly in the tradition of Piper, Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, Edwards, and dare I say it Paul (!), who stresses the vital nature of the experiential side of Christianity. Now, as we begun yesterday, we are looking at the relationship between feelings and faith, initially by sharing some quotes from the very advocates of a pursuit of a real intimate relationship with God. Today Lloyd-Jones explains why we can’t trust the sweetest frame that God may grant us:

But feelings cannot be our ultimate authority because, as we all know, they are so changeable, and unreliable. They come and they go, and you never know what they may be. ‘I dare not trust the sweetest frame’, says a hymn-writer, because it may have gone by tomorrow. If I am to be governed by my feelings I shall find myself constantly changing—sometimes happy, sometimes miserable, sometimes feeling that all is well, sometimes that everything is going wrong, sometimes thrilled by reading the Bible, at other times having to force myself to get something out of it, feeling dry, arid, dull, stupid! Is not that your experience? If so, how can you rely on feelings as your authority?

Then remember, too, that feelings can be so easily counterfeited. If what is nice is of necessity good, if what gives me a pleasant, comfortable feeling must be right, then I have no answer whatsoever to the cults. I would just have to say: ‘Well, go to them. Anything that makes you feel better, anything that gives you a kind of release and relief is good; follow it. Anything that makes you a better man must be right, go after it.’ If we rely merely upon the pragmatic test of what makes me feel better we have no standard at all. I cannot criticize any teaching. It is so entirely subjective that I have no standard whatsoever.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier : An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 202-03.

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