Oct 22, 2007

you asked for it: hearts and minds

Jennifer was wondering: I'd like to know your thoughts on the heart/mind struggle. I'm more of a "mind" person and it feels like God speaks more to the hearts of people.

This is a great question, Jennifer, and I'll give my best swing at it. Maybe before I answer the first part, though, we should start with the second part.

You said that it feels like God speaks more to the hearts of people. I'm assuming you means that those around you or the ones you interact with are giving you this vibe. What I would contend is that the heart and mind perception all depends on who the dominant voices of instruction and inspiration are (and have been) in your life.

For instance, in one particular church I served in there was a semi-regular teaching pastor known for his academic approach to deconstructing alternative religions, faith systems, atheists, and so on. Some people really enjoyed this because it helped them to feel more confident in their faith. Other people, like my chiropractor at the time (because I needed one, because on a certain student trip to the Wisconsin Dells I threw my shoulder out sleeping in a van, because it rained... that's another story, though) were a bit put off by this teaching because it was perceived as too critical and "heady."

My guess is that those who really enjoyed this style are wired up that way themselves, while others are more heart or soul oriented. None of those are incorrect, but if you're in the minority in a group of people who largely support the style and slant of that person with the microphone you may feel more disconnected than you actually are. But there's one more layer beyond all of this that bears mentioning, too.

Just as all identify with certain teachers, I'd submit that we all enjoy a particular side of the Trinity to such a degree that it impacts our very relationship with God. For instance....

  • God the Father: People who truly look to God as Father tend to enjoy the intellectual side of faith and the confident assurance that the Lord is over all. Meaning, there is nothing theological or experiential we might face that doesn't have some layer of Divine oversight to it. Taken to its extreme, one might remove the concept of free will as well as fear exploring non-traditional sides to theology.

  • God the Son: People who are excited about God the Son often connect spiritually through their heart. In doing so they most appreciate the personal side of (re)connecting with God through His life, death, and life again on our behalf. Taken to its extreme, free will might become abused because "God will forgive me," and one might even miss out on respecting the authority of the Lord. It's possible, too, that the more charismatic side of Christianity gets kept at an arm's distance because "there's no need to go there."

  • God the Spirit: People who most enjoy God the Spirit tend to explore their faith from the soul first. This is the kind of "crazy" side of Christianity (some say), because the Holy Spirit is the wild card of the Trinity (we can understand the metaphor of a Father, and perhaps even a Savior, "but Spirit?"). Nonetheless, these are often the artistic risk-takers of our faith who challenge the established and reasoned systems of theology... and try to wave us toward it. Taken to its extreme, Christianity becomes all about the experience - and sometimes when the experiences aren't happening there is a temptation to manufacture it. There's also sometimes such a passion for living with spiritual gusto that other people - Christian and non-Christian alike - don't know how to relate with them.

Obviously, we need to strive for the best balanced tension of the Trinity because all three aspects of who God are a part of our relationship to Him. We will have our favorite, though, perhaps (again) based on the dominant voices in our lives or in relationship to how we came to faith. I'd suggest that you identify how you tend to drift and then challenge yourself with reading and experiences that will better develop your connection to the other aspects of the Trinity.

It reminds me about a couple I heard about. One night the wife found her husband standing over their infant’s crib. As she watched him looking down at their very first baby, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions… disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism. Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, with eyes glistening she slipped her arm around her husband. "A penny for your thoughts," she said.

"It’s amazing!" he replied. "I just can’t see how anybody can make a crib like that for only $46.50."

Same planet, different worlds. ;)


Anonymous said...

I remember you telling me this on a trip back from Holland once. Thanks for the lunch that day.


Tony Myles said...

That's great, dude. When I was typing this post I thought about you popping in to the blog... I remembered that chat, too. We went and visited with Dan Webster and at some really good chow. Good times... good times.

Anonymous said...

To be honest the most I remember from that trip is learning about how whippets and greyhounds dislike each other, there is probably some kinda teaching in that

Tony Myles said...

I guess there is... especially since I'm not sure I remember what you're talking about. ;)