Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mind v. Heart

This is a post in which I'm bound to offend nearly everybody. Sorry from the outset ...

Spock v. McCoy. Hermione v. Ron. Cold intellect v. warm humanity. One of the pervasive conflicts of our day is the conflict of mind and heart. And in the Christian community, it often manifests itself as the conflict of Theologians v. Charismatics.

The split between heart and mind adds depth to the schisms of the church. In a fully developed Christian community, heart, mind, soul, and strength are in concert. In a fully developed Christian soul, likewise all of these come into play.

The people who focus on Heart have some criticisms of those in the Mind camp. Are the people drawn towards theology anti-emotional? How about rigid and cold? Some types of intellectual theologians are likely to preach on the two most important commandments, "Love the Lord, love your neighbor" by saying "Love is not an emotion". They're wrong about that and if they were really that smart, they should know it. "Love is not an emotion" is such a wild assertion that it should not get past the b.s. detector, but for the intellectual types it sometimes does.

I've met some people on the charismatic side of the fence who suggest that anti-emotionalism comes from the innate coldness of the people involved. That may sometimes be true, but even a legitimate criticism may be dismissed depending on the source or the spirit in which it is offered.

Highly intellectual groups are, in practice, often anti-emotional, which does not gain them any support from those who know that our hearts and souls are a vital part of knowing and loving God in more than theory. Certain intellectual camps are arrogant, which is a reflection of a worldly intellectualism instead of a godly wisdom.

Why doesn't the intellectual camp see this? The intellectual camp often deepens its distrust of the emotions by looking at the other side of the fence ...

Are emotional types intellectually under-developed? How about imprecise? Uneducated? When the theological camp looks at the openly emotional camp, they see an emotional display that often strikes them as showy but shallow. They also see undisguised disdain of other Christians. The Heart camp openly sneers at the "frozen chosen", which shows plainly enough that the "emotionally savvy" have not always harnessed their hearts to God's love. Where is the warmheartedness towards the brothers whose hearts need thawing? How far has a heart grown in the ways of God if it's acceptable to make fun of the emotionally challenged?

Faking emotions, giddiness, and lack of self-control are other symptoms that the emotions are not deeply and firmly rooted in the heart of God. Such false emotionalism does its part in keeping the intellectual camps distrustful of the heart. Of course there's more to the "heart" side of the camp than the showy and shallow; but with such a deep divide, the outsiders may never have gotten past the showy and shallow to see anything more.

The intellectuals have never understood that the anti-intellectualism of some camps is a rejection of the pseudo-intellectualism and misguided intellectualism of those who love theories more than God. Some bright people are kept from the theological camp not by a lack of education or intelligence, but by the contents of theologies that are misguided at the core. The theological camp's notorious self-righteousness, impatience, and ruthlessness are just symptoms that the thoughts are not deeply and firmly rooted in the mind of God. Such pseudo-intellectualism and misguided thought keeps the Heart camp distrustful of theology.

My point, I hope, is obvious: that we each take the log out of our own eyes before looking at the specs in each others' eyes. As a whole Christian community, the different camps need each other. The mind cannot say to the heart, "I do not need you"; neither can the heart say it to the mind. The intellectualism of the theologians goes badly wrong and easily becomes ungodly without the warmth, depth, and humanity of the heart; the emotionalism of the charismatics likewise easily becomes ungodly without the common sense and sound judgment of the mind. This particular schism does not run down denominational lines only, but even down the middle of each soul. Part of the healing of the Christian community will involve that heart and mind once again come together.


Mark said...

I read some advice recently that one wished to study theology one must make sure to pray more than one studied.

I think that's good (but hard to follow) advice.

Weekend Fisher said...

I'd agree and build from there: if the advice is hard to follow, the theology schools must not be taking any account of that advice.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Actually, love isn't an emotion. It's something much deeper than an emotion. It's sacrificial, unconditional, free self-giving.

Of course, if it's sufficiently great love, it will *trigger* emotion; it will *involve* emotion. We give ourselves entirely, and that includes giving our emotions.

Jesus wept.


Weekend Fisher said...

Love involves heart, mind, soul, and strength. If heart is left out, it's not love. If the intellectual crowd misses that, they've missed something important.

SaintSimon said...

Great post