Saturday, January 14, 2023

Heart and Mind

 O Lord, Thou hast created us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.

These immortal lines from the pen of Aurelius Augustine capture the deepest sentiments of every Christian. In The Confession Augustine traced his spiritual pilgrimage. Augustine revealed in prose what John Bunyan depicted in allegory—the progress of the soul as it moves toward spiritual rest in Christ.

Christianity engages the mind. Its revelation is designed by God for cognitive understanding. Yet beyond all of this the Christian faith is an “affair of the heart.”

On the one hand, Christianity has a primacy of the mind with respect to order or sequence. Our hearts cannot be inflamed about something we know not of. Unless we know God deeply, we cannot love Him deeply. A faint understanding of God is enough to begin the heart to stir. Emotions may be kindled by the slightest acquaintance with the majesty of Christ. But for that spark to rise into a consuming lasting fire, our knowledge of Him must increase.

To know Him is to love Him. Therefore, deepening knowledge must precede deepening affection. The mind comes first; it is primary for our faith.

On the other hand, there is a primacy of the heart. This primacy is not one of order or sequence, but one of importance. Many have accumulated a storehouse of theological knowledge, yet their hearts remain sterile and cold. History is replete with evidence of scholars who distinguished themselves with erudition used in the cause of unbelief. A creed cannot save anyone. It is with the heart that we believe unto salvation. A necessary element of saving faith is affection for Christ. A lot of knowledge with no love is worthless. A little knowledge coupled with great affection is far preferable.

God is most pleased when we pursue both primacies. The pursuit of the knowledge of God is insufficient. It must not serve as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. The goal is to inflame the heart. The mind is to serve as a feeding trough for the soul.

Consider great teachers of the church, titans such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards. Although each differs from the other in this or that point of theology, each man’s writings reveal a soul in love with God. Theirs is no arid speculation, no academic detachment, no arrogant posture. They are men of passion who display a remarkable balance of the twin primacies of mind and heart.