[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 4 ]

A Definition of Emotions

Dr. Payne is Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.

Emotions’ are central to a modem understanding of man (anthropology). “Emotional problems” are common topics of Christian publications and conferences. Christian physicians in many specialties speak often of patients’ emotional disorders. Psychologists and psychiatrists who are Christians have proliferated over the past 20 years to manage these problems. Sometimes, these problems are labeled as distinctions between the “heart” and the “head”. With all this focus on emotions a correct understanding of them is a major issue of our day.

Few who write and speak in this area seem open to considerations other than their own. The following may be not more than an exercise in futility. Often, I have only cited one source where I could have cited several.2 I have discussed only briefly “heavy” areas of theology and philosophy that do not satisfy me and are not likely to satisfy anyone else. They are introduced for the completeness of my argument, as well as to demonstrate that my definition is consistent with these areas.

Nevertheless, I am not aware that anyone else has addressed emotions in quite the same way. There seem to be great ramifications for one’s faith, if I am correct.

My thinking was triggered by statements from J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism.

Pure feeling, if there be such a thing, is non-moral . . .

(p. 54).

Human affection, apparently so simple, is really just brimming with dogma. It depends upon a host of observations treasured up in the mind with regard to the character of our friends . . .. human affection is thus really dependent upon knowledge . . . . the knowledge of God is the very basis of religion

( p. 54, my emphasis) .

. . . the human mind has a wonderful faculty for the condensation of perfectly valid arguments, and what seems like an instinctive belief may turn out to be the result of many logical steps

(p. 57).

Where should one start? Emotions are at the core of man’s being. Indeed, some “experts” would make them the most central and determining of our attitudes, personality and behavior. The subject of emotions is complex. In fact, as with any subject where truth is pursued, all definitions and descriptions are necessarily determined by one’s first principles or assumptions. For Christians, the necessary starting point is Scripture.


Are emotions physical or spiritual? That is, are they caused by physical substances within the body (hormones, nerves, etc.) or something in the nonmaterial dimension of man that may be called spirit, soul, heart or mind. (see below).

I shall try to skirt the periphery of dichotomy and trichotomy.3 The central issue for emotions here is the location of the mind. Dichotomists simply divide man into body and soul or in Greek New Testament terms, soma and psyche. Spirit, (pneuma), and heart, (kardia), also identify the same nonmaterial dimension of man.

A spirit is a person without a body. So, as the word soul (in one way or another) always depicts the non-material aspect of human nature in relationship to (or in unity with) the material, so the word spirit always refers to the same non-material aspect out of relationship to (or disunited from) the material

(italics in original).4

Thus, the dichotomist has no difficulty placing the mind within the nonmaterial dimension and knows that it may be identified by spirit, soul or heart.

The trichotomist, however, divides the non-material dimension of man into soul and spirit. Thus, man becomes body, soul and spirit. Most, if not all, trichotomists would place the mind in the soul. Biblically, this step seems logical since psyche is translated soul and, etymologically, psyche designates the mind. Most, if not all, trichotomists would place the mind, then, in the non-material dimension.5 Thus, to proceed on the basis that both dichotomists and trichotomists believe the mind to be within the non-material component of man seems reasonable.6 The following argument has to do with the relation of the emotions to either the physical or the non-physical. If I am allowed to use these two categories apart from the arguments of dichotomy and trichotomy, then the following can be consistent with either position.


Authors who write about emotions rarely define what an emotion is. That omission is curious and perhaps one reason for so much confusion in this area. Dictionaries do not help much either, because they usually include words such as “feeling,” “affect,” and “subjective” that are too closely identified with “emotion” itself to offer a concrete understanding.

The history of the English word, “emotion,” however, does have some correspondence to my argument that follows. The Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning of the Latin root as the adjective “of action.” Its French origin means “to move out.” Definitions 1, 2 and 3 are listed as obsolete. The fourth definition is “Any agitation or disturbance of mind, feeling, passion; any vehement or excited mental state.” Of importance here is “disturbance of mind.”7

My definition of an emotion, then, is the momentary (acute) and ongoing (chronic, continuous) disturbance within the mind (soul, spirit) caused by the discrepancy between perceived reality and one’s desires. Emotions are momentary in that immediate circumstances trigger various emotions. For example, a person may catch his finger in a door and react with a degree of anger. He may say inaudibly, “Ouch”. Or, he may react violently and jerk the door off the hinges!

An important factor in his momentary reaction is his ongoing (chronic) state of mind (“mood”). If he is “on edge,” that is under a great deal of stress, then a more vigorous response is likely to occur. If he is quite happy and peaceful, then he may respond more quietly. Many other reactions are possible, depending upon one’s state of mind. For example, imagine the responses of persons in these situations: the person who is severely bereaved over personal loss, the fireman rushing to rescue people in a burning house, and the young woman who has just become engaged. Also, a quick-tempered personality will react more vigorously that a staid one.

Thus, my definition begins with the totality of situations that are disturbing a person at any given point in time. Some are “momentary” (acute) and others are “ongoing” (chronic). There is much “ongoing” with any individual at a “given point in time.” In fact, to some degree all past and current experiences, as well as future hopes, affect a person’s acute and chronic state of mind.

We will pass over discrepancy for the present, as its explanation depends upon an understanding of desires.

An analogy may help to describe the effect of life experiences remote in our memory upon current events. Many colors and shapes may blend to form the less saturated, indistinct background in our painting of a landscape, atop which the brighter, sharper foreground figures constitute the chief theme of the picture. There need be no recollection of the specific colors which blended in the background, yet they influence the tone of the painting. So it is with past memories that, unuttered and inchoate, nevertheless influence our present perceptions and actions.

Skilled interviewers, psychological and otherwise, may be able to discern certain of the background features that are imparting disruptive feelings into current scenes. Unfortunately, nearly all such researchers (especially psychologists and psychiatrists), make the error of asserting much more than anyone could know about these past events and attribute too much power to them. The “analyzed” person is essentially viewed as a victim of her personal history. A spiritual organ known as an “unconscious mind” or the “subconscious” has been created by these professionals and elaborated so winsomely, that our whole generation believes this representation to be a fact of science rather than the fanciful creation that it is. This invented dynamic of the subconscious, a neat system of diagnosis, and allusions to the enormous power of this entity living within each person are utilized to account for our motivation and emotions at the expense of conscious, responsible processes.

The point is that, while no one is able to remember everything that he has learned or all past life experiences that have an influence upon his present feelings, no one can go beyond what is consciously accessible for explanations or remedies of the humans spirit. To do so is to infringe upon what God reserves for Himself alone (I Cor. 2:11, Jer. 17:9, 10).

Desires are more complex than may be recognized at first glance. (Also, see the section on desires that follows.) Desires encompass all those things in life that we hope for, a vast array ranging from the trivial to the profound. For example, I may desire not only ice cream, but a double scoop of butter pecan from Buskin Robbins. Or, I may desire to become an overseas missionary.

A discrepancy in my desire and its fulfillment may occur with either situation. The Buskin Robbins store may be closed when I get there or I may be in a strange city and not be able to find one. With missionary service, I may not be able (for several reasons) to get the college degree for the desired area of service or some problem with my health may fall short of the requirements of the mission board.

The emotions that result can vary from the trivial to the profound, as well. When I cannot get my ice cream, I may shrug it off and settle for a Coca-Cola (Classic, of course!). Or, I may get angry and say things that I should not. When I cannot do the missionary work that I may want, I simply may look for other opportunities. Or, I may get depressed to the extent that I consider suicide. To reiterate, my emotions will depend upon my acute and chronic state of mind, as well as my personality. If my “mental life” is mostly content, then mild emotions will result. If I am under great stress or have a violent temper, then my emotions will be considerably different.

Perceived reality indicates reality as the individual sees it. “True” reality may he different, but a person reacts according to his interpretation of reality until someone or something corrects his distortion. For example, parents who wait up late at night for a teenager to come home conjure up more dire circumstances as the hour gets later. Emotions are triggered proportional to the severity of those circumstances. When the teenager walks in whole and healthy, however, perceived reality changes and other emotions/actions are triggered. (Like, “Where have you been all this time?”)

Emotions, then, are the disturbance caused by the comparison and contrast (discrepancy) of desires with perceived reality. The degree of disturbance depends upon one’s acute and chronic state of mind (both conscious and subconscious), a reflection of all one’s knowledge and life experience, as well as hopes for the future. (Other factors in the degree of disturbance will be discussed under “Practical Application”).

The point is that emotions are caused by thinking. Comparison and contrast (determining discrepancy) is a rational process of the mind. It may be done momentarily or it may be influenced by many years of extensive “background painting.” That is, the sum of years of specific, conscious thoughts (all that is in one’s past experience) may not be deliberated upon in the experience of the moment (the “foreground”). Multiple comparisons and contrasts are going on at the same time. Thus, the sorting of all these processes at a given point in time can be complex.

I suspect that this complexity is the reason that emotions have been made into a category of its own and that “professional” research and “therapy” seem necessary. With my definition, however, what is needed for emotional control is an understanding of the discrepancies between perceived reality and desires. Then, faulty understanding can be corrected by Biblical truth (see “Practical Application”).

We will now review further support for my definition and its consistency with other factors.


Emotions seem to arise from the physical body, not just within the spirit where thinking occurs. First, we must separate those sensations that are clearly physical and those that may or may not be. To have pain from a pin-stick, to smell a rotten egg, to taste a bitter lemon, to see a blazing sunset, to hear a thunderclap, and a variety of other senses clearly come from stimulation of the skin or other sense organs. While such sensations are deep philosophical issues,8 these sensations are commonly regarded as phenomena caused by a disturbance of the physical body. We should, however, distinguish them from the following effects.

Fatigue, fever, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and other bodily states influence a person. But – are they feelings? Many times late in the evening, I have been discouraged, pessimistic, and confused over some issues) of life. The next morning (especially after a cup of coffee), I wonder what all the negativity was about. The “facts” have not changed, but my mind and my body have had a night’s rest. Fever with its associated headaches and muscle aches incapacitates almost every person with it. When I have one, I only want to lie still and take whatever seems necessary to make me feel better. Premenstrual syndrome causes many women to feel irritable, tired and depressed along with other sensations. Physically, they are experiencing the dramatic changes in hormones that occur just prior to their menstrual periods.

These physical states are intertwined with the spiritual, as well. While I have a fever, there are often many responsibilities that I am able to accomplish. I don’t have to be “cranky” and thoughtless of others. I can do “light” office work. I can write letters. And so on. If, however, I choose to do nothing, such work piles up and increases the burden of the work that I will have to “catch up on” when I get well. In addition, guilt may be present for my failures, causing me to feel worse and probably accomplish even less. A spiral downward then occurs.

Thus, physical states may limit some activities and responsibilities, but such states can also be an excuse to avoid our duties. In this way, a discrepancy between perceived reality and desires has been introduced, caused by a physical state.

On the one hand the separation of the spiritual and physical component may seem difficult. On the other hand, as you experience these physical states, you are mostly aware of those areas for which you should assume responsibility. You may complain and excuse yourself and others may do the same for you, but you know where you have failed.

“Sensation” is best used to describe these bodily states. True, sensation and feeling are dictionary-approved synonyms. Nevertheless the spiritual and physical components of such effects must be delineated as clearly as possible. Physical problems need the help of a physician. Spiritual problems need spiritual help (counseling, prayer, Bible study, Holy Communion, etc.). True, one may affect the other, as we have seen. Nevertheless, accurate diagnosis is always necessary to cure “disease” of the body, spirit or both.


I have argued above that emotions are disturbances of thinking and not physical states. Could there be another dimension where emotions arise? Biblically, this question is critical, not only for my argument, but for those who would disagree with me. The issue is responsibility. The Bible is clear that God holds all people accountable for their thoughts (Romans 12:3b; James 1:7-8), speech (James 3:512)9 and behavior (Matthew 25: 31-46; II Corinthians 5:10). If emotions lie outside these areas, then we are not accountable to God for them. There is no greater issue than our accountability before God. That is why a definition of emotions is so important.

Frequently, Christians choose the “heart” as the seat of the emotions. Usually, when heart is chosen, it is contrasted with “head.” That is, the heart is the seat of the emotions and the head is the rational mind. Many evangelists preach that salvation is a process of the heart (and thus an emotional response). They even go so far as to caution against following one’s mind, rather than one’s heart. Some have said that many people will miss heaven by twelve inches, the distance between their heads (minds) and their hearts (“emotions”)!

Certainly, references to the heart and mind are prevalent throughout Scripture. Any distinction between the two, however, is not entirely clear.10 Heart is used often in both the Old and the New Testament to refer to processes that clearly involve the mind, the intellect, the understanding, and the will (Genesis 6:5, 17:17; Exodus 7:3, 35:5, II Samuel 7:3, Psalm 4:4; Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 5:28, 9:4; Acts 7:23; Romans 1:21; I Corinthians 2:9). Several hundred similar verses could be listed, as well.

In some instances the heart does refer to the emotions (I Samuel 11:1; Acts 2:37, 2:46; Romans 9:2). You should note, however, that 1) such uses are far less common that those that refer to the mind and will and 2) such tees are compatible with my definition. That is, the disturbance within the person is caused by a comparison or contrast between what is desired and perceived reality.

In summary, a Biblical understanding of heart is “the non-material (nonphysical) side of man in contrast to his material side (usually with an emphasis upon the visibility of the latter and the invisibility of the former).”11

Again, I have abbreviated this discussion. Mere length of argument however will convince no one. For those whose minds are still open on this subject, the idea that the common evangelical distinction between heart and head may not be biblical, has been introduced. These readers can further investigate other relevant Biblical texts and theological references to clarify this distinction (cited above).

Today, Christians must realize the prevalent influence of psychological theory. There is good evidence that all the emphasis on the emotions is a modem phenomenon due to such theory. Historically, philosophical and theological debates about man’s mind centered upon the contribution of rational thought vs. that of the will to decision-making. That is, is the will stronger than the mind to over-ride what reason indicates is preferable, or does the mind convince the will? Emotions and “heart” came to be introduced with modern psychological theory in the 19th century.

Some Christians point to Jonathan Edwards’ focus on “affections” A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections as an example where a great theologian discussed the role of the emotions.12 Careful reading of his words, however, indicate that for Edwards affection was synonymous with “will”. He was not referring to emotions at all, but continuing the same centuries-old debate. The same can be said of the use of “affection” by John Calvin and others.13

Are those who distinguish between the head and the heart consistent? It is apparent that they are not. Evangelists who preach to people’s hearts, use words to communicate. Words communicate between the mind of the speaker and the mind of the hearer. Although his message is erroneous, he is still trying to influence the hearers’ minds.14 Even a decision to follow their hearts (if that were possible) would be decision first made with their minds.

The same holds for those psychologists and psychiatrists who treat people’s emotions. What do they do? They talk to their patients (clients, counselees).15 That is, they communicate from their own minds to their patients’ minds with words. These “therapists” may say that they are “healing the emotions,” but what they are doing is first convincing the minds of their patients and the emotions are changed secondarily.


The real battleground lies with “mental illness.” We should first realize, however, that this term is quite nebulous and useless. While I am coming to what are likely true disorders of the brain, the looseness of this term must be understood. For example, the patient with senile dementia (brain cells die or function poorly) becomes easily confused, forgetful, and inappropriate in his behavior. By contrast, the couple who goes for marriage counseling has nothing wrong with their brains. Yet, they often go to psychiatrists who are trained to treat “mental illness.”

This area is indeed a large one that cannot be addressed here. Nevertheless, precise distinctions within this area are almost entirely neglected by Christians from virtually all psychological and spiritual persuasions. Yet, such endeavors are crucial. If people are physically (that is, bio-chemically or structurally) diseased, then they need medical treatment. If they are not so diseased, then they need spiritual counseling. (Some may need civil or criminal prosecution.)

The question arises, “Does true organic disease of the brain cause some diagnoses that could be classified as mental (brain) illness?” Probably, some do exist. Many characteristics of schizophrenia favor an organic etiology, although a specific biochemical disorder has not been proven.16 Likewise, a biochemical basis for all “mental illnesses” has not been proven.

Whether or not such biochemical deficits do occur, however, does not necessarily affect my argument. First, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other major psychiatric illnesses have definitive patterns. These are not classified as “emotional problems,” the subject of our concern.

Second, these definitive problems are mostly in the small minority among problems that concern people today. The millions of patients on “mild tranquilizers” (for example, Valium TM) would hardly be classified as having major psychiatric illnesses. Neither would the millions who have phobias, are hostile or obsessive-compulsive, and have other neuroses.’ So, for the large majority of “emotional problems,” even mainstream professionals would not classify these problems as organic in origin.

Enough agreement seems to exist about these more common conditions of people who are sad, worried, or angry to discuss the application of my theory and who clearly do not have a physical basis for their emotional condition.


What, then, determines the content of one’s desires as the grid for the mind to compare and contrast reality with them? We can understand and explain it up to a point, but finally it rests in God’s mysterious design of each person and their life experience, both Christian and non-Christian.

Simply, why do some people have explosive anger while others burn within? Why are some extroverts and others introverts? Why are some geniuses and others of average intelligence? Of course, these phenomena involve the ongoing debate of “nature” and “nurture.” That is, the influence of the physical characteristics (genes) that a person is born with and his subsequent life experience, especially within the family that raises him or her.

As Christians, however, we must go beyond nature and nurture. First, man is endowed with a spirit. (Trichotomists would add soul.) He is not simply bio-chemicals. While we cannot explore the relationship of physical and spiritual causation in individuals, we can at least recognize that personal traits are influenced by one’s spirit, as well as one’s physical body. In fact, the Bible places greater influence upon the spirit than the body (Matthew 5:29-30; 10:26; I Timothy 4:8).

Second, it is ultimately God who determines the exact nature and nurture of each person. Philosophically, there are only two choices. Either nature and nurture are accidental (random, chance) occurrences without design or they are designed with purpose. Purposeful design requires a Designer (God). The mystery of God’s choices for the content of each individual must remain a mystery. The only reason that He has given us is “the counsel of His (own) will” (Ephesians 1:11). What we should clearly understand, however, is that each person is designed and not product of random nature and nurture. Individuality, as manifested in personal desires, is not random.

The most dramatic change in desires that can take place in a human life is that of conversion to Jesus Christ. The most accurate designation of this change is repentance. Literally, the Greek word from the New Testament, metanoia, means a “change of mind.” This change is dramatic. The person’s whole framework of life is changed. He moves from being an enemy of God (Romans 5:10) to the family of God (John 1:12). He moves from darkness into the light (Acts 26:18). He moves from death into life (Romans 6:23). This transformation is primarily, if not entirely, the “renewing of one’s mind” (Romans 12:2).

With this dramatic change, his/her desires change dramatically. As one’s desires change, one’s feelings change. Thus, the feelings of a Christian will have a different orientation than those of the non-Christian. For example, one learns to “fear” temptation and flee it (I Timothy 2:22). One is concerned about future treasures rather than earthly things (Matthew 6:19). One learns not to be anxious about food, drink and clothes (Matthew 7:25).


One’s understanding of emotions mandates how he is to be managed either personally, by a counselor (including psychologists and psychiatrists), and even by evangelists. If emotions are caused by physical (biochemical) abnormalities, then they should be managed with a physician’s advice. If they are problems of thinking, then correct thinking will correct the “emotional problem.” If the mind is the key to the emotions, the Scripture becomes most important. It is only here that true knowledge of the mind is found.

Attitude must be added to the “acute and chronic state of mind” in my definition. Attitude involves beliefs or principles that are somewhat fixed in one’s minds. Again, they may be trivial or profound. I may have a fear of frogs because I believe that handling them will cause warts. I may also believe that God is truly Sovereign and good and that He has planned every detail of my life, including unexpected and unpleasant circumstances.

Contentment (peacefulness) is an accurate gauge of the extent to which each Christian actually believes God’s goodness and Sovereignty. Both are necessary. I may believe God is Sovereign, but not good (at least to the foolish extent that I am willing to think that I know better than God). I may believe that He is good, but not Sovereign. The former position seems by far the most common in my experience. And, most Christians do not seem aware that their speech and behavior confirms this belief, while they think that they believe otherwise.

The classic, Biblical example is both the statement and actions of Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Writing from jail, he rejoiced (an emotion) in his being in prison because the Gospel was advanced “throughout the entire praetorian guard and to everyone else” (1:13) and others were more bold because of his imprisonment (1:14). His attitude that God was Sovereign and good was immovably fixed. Neither his acute or chronic circumstances could over-ride this attitude. He finally concludes, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (4:11).

Emotions are an outward expression of our true beliefs. If I am as convinced as Paul about God’s control and purpose, then I will not worry, get upset or be afraid of any life experience. The extent to which 1 fail to believe this truth is the extent to which 1 will have difficulty with my emotions.18

There are some variables to this general truth. First, volatility or stability of emotions is affected by one’s personality. Some people’s attitudes are more easily disturbed than others. They are more spontaneous, effervescent and impulsive (to use positive connotations). Others are more staid, quiet, and calm.

Second, actual physical states can make control of attitudes easier or more difficult. When one has good health, one does not have to contend with the bombardment of the mind by negative feedback from the body. When one is racked by fever, one may be almost numb to any acute or chronic event. Third, life experiences can enhance or erode attitudes. Growing up in a stable home environment with wise, but not overly-protective parents, starts a young adult with positive and learned life experiences that promotes stability in the face of the travail that is sure to come. Growing up in a home with child abuse and divorce (or worse) hinders the development of stable attitudes. With a background of travail, new trials are compounded as they are encountered.

There may be other factors. I want to underscore, however, that these factors modify or promote an underlying attitude; they do not determine. Few have ever experienced the difficulties that Paul did (II Corinthians 11:23-33), yet he maintained the attitude that I have reviewed.

This point is the major purpose of my development of a definition of emotions. Being a Christian and living a righteous life is primarily, if not exclusively, one of learned attitude. The beautiful emotions that God offers have a cause and effect relationship to this attitude. Every person is different. For some learning is easy and for others more difficult. Some have experienced stable families and relatively stable lives while others seemed to have faced turmoil all their lives. Some are friendly and personable by personality, while others find social life difficult and taxing.

All Christians, however, will find their greatest fulfillment “in Jesus Christ” proportional to their understanding of God and His Word. While love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness are gifts of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), they may also be developed and experienced more fully as He gives understanding of biblical truth. To attempt “emotional healing” by bypassing the mind is not only impossible, it is erroneous and crippling for Christians. The focus on emotions in the modern church is a serious and erroneous plague. So, also, is the medical profession’s acceptance of the psychological concept of emotional “illness” where a physical cause is not present. Perhaps, my definition will cause some to think further about this subject.


I Feelings and emotions are synonyms. I will only use the one word, “emotions.”

2. Indeed, I could have cited a voluminous literature on many of the subjects that I have dealt with herein. While such citations may give a more “scholarly” appearance, they would not give additional insights or substantiation. Anyone with a considered position can find any number of suitable publications. Further, if my brief argument cannot at least open a reader’s mind to the plausibility of my position, then citing the entire world’s literature is not likely to convince either.

3 Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1939, pp. 191-200.
– Clark, Gordon. The Biblical Doctrine of Man. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1984, pp. 33-44.
– Delitzsh, Franz. A System of Biblical Psychology. Reprinted from the 1899 edition in Edinburgh by T. and T. Clark. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977, pp. 196-378.
– Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology: Volume 11. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986, pp. 42-51.

4. Adams, Jay E. More Than Redemption. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: 1979, p. 116.

5. Some trichotomists might place the soul in both the physical and non-physical components, but I am not aware of any who do. The following argument, however, would not be substantially changed by those of this persuasion. Other positions, for example those who see the mind as an epiphenomenon of the physical, have departed from traditional and orthodox reasoning. Thus, their position is really too “far out” to merit serious consideration here or the more complex argument needed to address their position.

6. The problem between dichotomy and trichotomy relative to psychology is to whom the area of the mind (soul) belongs. Many trichotomists would direct that the body be cared for by the physician, the soul (mind) by the psychologist, and the spirit by the pastor (or other spiritual counselor). For the dichotomist this province is simple, the spirit, mind, soul and heart are one. All these designations, then, (to follow the trichotomists’ reasoning) would fall to the spiritual counselor. For a psychologist to participate, he would have to have the qualifications of a spiritual counselor.

7. Again, the origin of my definition of emotion came from Machen’s work, not this dictionary definition. I believe, however, that the etymology of emotion does give some support to my definition.

8. Clark, Gordon H. A Christian View of Men and Things. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1952. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 285-325.
– Clark, Gordon H. Thales to Dewey. 1957. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980. See Index for numerous references to “Sensation.”

9. Speech is really only the audible expression of one’s thoughts, so there are really only two categories: thinking and behavior.

10. Adams, More Than Redemption, pp. 108-118.
– Clark, Gordon H. Faith and Saving Faith, Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1983, pp. 65-79.
– Clark, Gordon H. The Biblical Doctrine of Man, pp. 78-88.
– Clark, Gordon H. Religion, Reason and Revelation. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1986, pp. 90-94.

11. Adams, More Than Redemption, p. 116.

12 Clark, Gordon H. Faith and Saving Faith, p. 65
– Clark, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, pp. 79-81.
– Stob, Henry. Ethical Reflections: Essays on Mortal Themes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978, pp. 90-91.

13. Clark, Religion, Reason and Revelation, pp. 104ff.

14. Many preachers are not actually using words as instruments to influence rational thought in their hearers but solely for emotional (“disturbance”) impact. They use emotional words (often devoid of logic or internally contradictory) to induce an emotional state in hearers and to induce a behavioral response (such as going to the altar) without any real change in their mind. The spawn of such preaching seeds a nation with fervent “Christians” whose faith is emotional only.

15. Psychiatrists may give drugs, but this is obviously a “bodily” treatment and not a direct treatment of the emotions.

16. The use of phenothiazines and other drugs to control the thinking and behavior of schizophrenics does not prove a biochemical deficit. Aspirin will relieve a tension headache, but this relief does not prove that this headache was caused by a biochemical disorder. Such attributing of causality is a simple principle of logic called “asserting the consequent.” While it is simple, major errors in all branches of science are based upon this fallacy. If Christian leaders and teachers knew and applied such simple principles of logic, we would likely not have such disordered thinking among modem Christians. For more discussion on this subject, see my book, Biblical/Medical Ethics, Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1985, pp. 155-180.

17. These “diagnoses” are another problem that we cannot address. To what degree are they spiritual problems that require obedience and repentance to correct? To what degree are these behaviors uncontrollable by those who have them? Again, such issues are rarely addressed by Christians in psychology and psychiatry, but these issues are centrally important to a Biblical framework.

18. The same can be said about behavior. The extent to which our lives are obedient to all God’s instructions is the extent to which we actually believe those instructions are His commands for His glory and our good. This paper concerns emotions, so I will say no more about behavior. It should be noted, however, that what we truly believe is best measured by our emotional responses and our behavior, and not what we think or say.

[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 4 ]