Fortress Press

The Impassioned Life: Reason and Emotion in the Christian Tradition

The Impassioned Life

Reason and Emotion in the Christian Tradition

Samuel M. Powell (Author)


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  • eBook coming soon

The Impassioned Life argues that theology’s task today is to rethink the nature of emotions and their relation to human reason. Such rethinking is necessary because the Christian tradition feels ambivalently about the emotions. Armed with a commitment to body-soul dualism, many writers have equated the image of God with rationality and wondered whether emotion is an essential feature of human nature; however, the tradition has also affirmed the value of emotions such as love and compassion and has sometimes asserted the value of so-called negative emotions such as anger. The question, then, is whether the tradition’s pastoral insight into the importance of moderation and control of the emotions requires us to think dualistically about soul (identified with reason) and body (the seat of emotions). 

To answer this question, The Impassioned Life explores the vital resources of the Christian theological tradition and also of contemporary scientific and psychological research in order to achieve a more adequate theological understanding of the emotions and reason. At heart, it offers a holistic, integrated vision of the Christian life lived passionately in its full range of human feeling as life in the Spirit.

  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506410739
  • eBook ISBN 9781506408071
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 456
  • Publication Date January 1, 2016


"Powell offers a wide-ranging yet insightful survey of how emotion and reason have been understood in Western thought. After assessing the major ideas he finds in Scripture, philosophy, historical theology, and contemporary science, Powell proposes ways that present-day people might best understand themselves. The Impassioned Life beautifully integrates theoretical and practical concerns to make it a must-read guide on the relationship between emotion and cognition!"

Thomas Jay Oord | author of The Uncontrolling Love of God

"It may seem surprising that Christian thinkers would still elevate rationality and view the emotional life with deep suspicion, yet this tendency remains widespread. Samuel Powell here lays that myth to rest. With impeccable scholarship and an engaging narrative, he shows that Bible and theology, philosophy and science, all reveal emotion and reason to be interdependent. The result is a far richer and more attractive theological anthropology, with fascinating implications for our understanding of God."

Philip Clayton | author of Transforming Christian Theology