Sunday, July 16, 2006

Head and Heart Christians

Most people who know me will no doubt say that I’m at the same time both intensely analytical and fiercely passionate. Like every believer’s traits, these can be both a helpful and detrimental—the mind can lead you into paralyzing labyrinths of thought, and the heart can lead you beyond where you should go (and sometimes at the same time.) Also, it can be an incredibly annoying pair of traits for the friends of anyone who functions this way. Anyway, like many I tend to be concerned with where and how head meets heart when it comes to applying the Bible. (BTW, it just occurred to me the other day—who is the most doctrinal of the Gospel writers? Was it not John, who wrote more in depth on Christology and pneumatology and theology proper and election and soteriology in general than did Matthew or Mark or Luke? And yet what is his nickname? “The Apostle of Theology…Doctrine…Spirituality…Election”? No. “The Apostle of Love.” Interesting.)

Back to the topic. How does head meet heart? From a Christian Hedonist’s perspective—and specifically, a Christian Hedonist children’s minister’s perspective, it comes back to satisfaction with Christ. If it is my desire to beget children who are so satisfied and in love with Christ that they are fiercely and passionately committed to Him in all things, how is this passion created? This passion of the heart is the fuel for a person’s actions, yes…but what is the “crude oil” of Christian service? The Bible, of course. And in more detail, biblical theology. We cannot expect our teenagers to be satisfied by and passionate toward Christ alone if we have not shown our children why He is altogether satisfying and worthy of our passions. We do that when we consider Creation…and other history…and poetry…and prophecy and God’s revelation toward man…and the person and work of Christ in His humanity…and the work of the Holy Spirit in the church…and the consummation of redemptive and human history in revelation. We talk about it, we draw conclusions, we make illustrations, all in order that Christ might be glorified in our children (and us) so that we might obey the command with which the Apostle of Love closed his first letter: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (
1 John 5:21, ESV).

1 comment:

Tony K. said...

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols”

Understanding objective value in relation to our estimation of value is essential. I define an idol as “anything you love (want, treasure, seek, enjoy) more than God.”

Idolatry is madness. To exchange what is supremely good (God himself) for anything less (everything else) is a terrible tragedy.

This is why understanding the heart and head question is so important. Many times we think we are “doing ministry” and “teaching” when we get Bible facts into a child’s mind. But if their affections do not change then we have failed them as teachers. I recently previewed a video curriculum that did an excellent job communicating Bible facts in a memorable and engaging way. But the “tone” actually moved the student’s affections in the opposite direction of the content. All the educational pieces were in place. But the dominating entertainment model negated any change in life attitudes toward God.

This reminds me of the conventional motives for children’s ministry
“If we can just get kids to like church, they will keep coming when they get older.” There is a subtle equivocation between liking church and liking God. At the end of the day we need to aim for head & heart Christians who love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.