If the soul were a car, then:
The intellect is like the headlights,
The will is the steering column
(the steering "will"!),
and emotions fuel the engine.
It's the engine that moves us.
The Philosophy of Emotion
The word "emotion" is from “ex-motus” meaning via motion, movement, motor. Often when Jesus healed it was because he was moved with compassion.
The intellect gives external, abstract, breadth of non-experiential knowledge; emotions give internal, concrete, depth of experiential knowledge. Here Dr. Peter Kreeft YouTube Audio. They are supposed to contribute to each other.
Some Christians disparage the role of the emotions—but to relate only with the will takes far more energy! For example, it is easier to be a good Samaritan with the emotion of empathy; it's easier to repent with the emotion of sorrow.
So our goal here is to see that they are God's gift, part of His true image in us. Experience them. Surf, don't deny.
Your "emotional intelligence" will offer key insights into God, as well as the self. There are things that God can only communicate through the emotions—esp. his emotions for you .
In fact, the holier you are, the more harmonious and rich your emotions will be. This may be shocking to modern readers, but every era has its weaknesses.
Two extremes are: a.) over-valuing them and b.) under-valuing them.
A. Healthy Integration: Emotions and the Will
First, how do you guard against emotionalism, i.e., letting the engine steer the car?
Love is not determined by emotions (1 Cor 13: love is patient, self-less, faithful, etc.) for Jesus said what counts is not what comes to us (reactions), but what comes from us (responses); Mark 7:15. Passions—from the same Latin root for "passive"—come to us.
So the will has the priority over the emotions, for it is better to be close to God than to feel close to God; just like it's better to be healthy than to feel healthy.
But we can have both! Emotions are often a fruit of habits, so (similar to your conscience) they can be guided and matured. (Like your conscience, emotions always begin right. )
Consider two cars with drivers A and B, who leave DC for SanFran.
Driver A -- has lots of speed, but is pointed to New Mexico;
Driver B -- is pointed directly at San Fran, but only has enough gas to get to West Virginia.
It turns out driver B will get closer, based on the composite factors. E.g, the person with correct doctine naturally assumes they are closer to God, but it's a function of both doctrine and passion -- bcause love is.
B. Full Color
Because unbelievers may promote the extremist, destructive motto of "if it feels good, do it", religious people sometimes over-react by undervaluing, ignoring, or repressing emotions. However, you are always experiencing an emotion, just as you are always wearing a color, regardless of whether you acknowledge it.
More importantly, if we repress what we think is a bad emotion; we’ll repress the good ones too. If our emotions aren’t operating we can never share in God’s pleasure with us.
And in fact, there are no bad emotions, just like there are no bad piano keys—only good ones played at the right or wrong time.
Emotions as Art
- Don't control as much as steer. You just “let them happen” through you. Surf. This requires some letting go; a little personal de-regulation.
- As with art, emotions are for their own sake, not primarily a means to something else. They are color, flavor, energy—like in a good wine.
- Great art forms (film, painting, music, etc.) all have movement, flow, dynamics. And we—as God's art—enhance this via our passions.
The passion of the Christ reveals a staggering thought: we can actually move God.
Ponder that one. How is prayer different when we seek God’s heart more than his provision?
My Heart Moves My Hand
Look away from the difficulties that surround you. It is in and through these I am working, shaping you towards a more perfect love, one that will allow you to draw more deeply into My eternal love.
Look always to My heart filled with tender love for you, for it is My heart that moves My hand.
I am calling you to be intimately present to Me. I come running to you when you reach to touch Me. I so long to impart a touch of My heart to you for My love for you cannot be contained. Words fail the true expression of how much I long to embrace you and hold you near.