True feelings (book review)

Perspectives on emotions in Christian life and ministry
Edited by Michael P. Jensen
Apollos (IVP). 284 pages. £14.99
ISBN 978 1 844 745 937

This collection of 11 essays on emotions in Christian life and ministry began life as talks at a conference held at Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia.

The stereotype that conservative evangelicals are suspicious of emotions makes the publication of this book on their place and importance especially welcome, not least because eight of the 11 chapters are by Moore College staff. After an opening sermon and an introduction to emotions, there are two main sections of four chapters each on emotions in God and in Christian life and ministry.

Challenging call

As you would expect, given where the book has come from, the treatment of the subject is thorough and scholarly, engaging in a rigorous way with the Bible, historical theology and contemporary culture. But the book is not just an academic treatise — it is a challenging call to be conformed to the image of the Son in our emotional life; to follow the example of Paul who felt deeply and expressed freely; to understand growing up emotionally as part of growing up in Christ; to see emotions as a good gift rather than dangerous decoys seducing us from the path of truth; to pursue a wholehearted engagement with God, as individuals and in our gatherings; to beware overcorrecting in our desire to avoid emotionalism when we meet together, and to value the place of music and singing; to walk the path of devotion not just duty.

Some of the early chapters can get quite technical, which some may find off-putting, but there is no reason not to begin with the more practical final section. It’s the kind of volume in which the chapters can be read in any order. The Apollos range is pitched at pastors, theological teachers and students, and thinking Christians. Those who want a more popular level treatment may find IVP’s Emotions by Graham Beynon a more accessible starting point.

Marcus Nodder, senior pastor, St. Peter’s Barge, London’s Floating Church (

This article was first published in the May 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057