The Contagion of Emotions

by Terry Wane Benton

At Ephesus, there was a stirring of emotions causing the idolatrous people to start a long series of chants and emotional outbursts of "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" (Acts 19:34). This constant chant went on for two hours. There was a contagion of emotions, and perhaps the fervor for Diana had a "revival" in that city for a while.

Emotions can be contagious and spread quickly, but the emotions are not proof of "truth" and they are not proof of "the pouring out of the Holy Spirit" or of "the Spirit moving". It is only proof of the moving of human spirits into emotional hype. Attributing emotional displays to the "moving of the Holy Spirit" is easy to imagine, but it is not proof of the Holy Spirit at all. It is merely proof that emotions can get contagious.

If every time a group of people got emotional and began to chant something, we assumed it was "the moving of the Holy Spirit", then the Holy Spirit would be confirming every wind of doctrine taught in all those places. Charismatics of every variety, have the same emotional hype. It was emotional hype that led Joseph Smith to imagine angels and Spirit guidance. Emotional hype led 900 people to follow Jim Jones to their death. Can we truly call every emotionally hyped situation the "moving of the Holy Spirit?"

I would call attention to what the Holy Spirit really shows us in the Bible. He never "moved" in that manner. In fact, the real Holy Spirit called for controlling your emotions and presenting His word with order and reason (I Corinthians 14:30-40). If emotions go uncontrolled and there is shouting at random, you can look at what the Holy Spirit said right here and know for certain that this emotional hype is definitely not anything attributable to the Holy Spirit.

Maybe we should think about deceptive spirits cashing in on emotional contagion. If not, why not?

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