Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Theology vs. the Heart
July 24, 2007Posted by on
I’ve recently struggled over a question, talked it over with some people, and then wrestled with it more. In the two areas my desires seem to be leading me into, there seems to be an unspoken struggle. It’s not so much a tug-a-war as it is two groups, usually with good intentions, who easily fall into extremes in their own realm.
There are the theologians, often pastors or ministry leaders, who love to study and research the Bible, commentaries, dictionaries, concordances, and such in order to teach. I have sat under many of them and benefited greatly from their studies and sermons. I am indebted to them for some of my own theology (how I view God). The problem comes when much of their work and knowledge remains above their shoulders. It never fully reaches their heart. They become intellectual giants, admired and appreciated for their mind. Yet they live without heart. It is sad for them and sad for those they interact with. For if you are not in touch with your own heart, it is impossible for you to see and care for another’s heart, glorifying God in the process. In the grand scheme of their lives, knowledge and teaching is valued over full living, which misses the point, according to Saint Irenaeus. He said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
The other camp is filled with counselors, or those with a counselor’s heart. My favorite non-fiction books tend to be written by therapists, whose job is to know and care for the hearts of people. These men and women know their own stories and spiritual journeys well. They’ve been trained to recognize the dignity and depravity in their own life as well as in others. They’ve experienced how God sets a heart free from the bondage and captivity created by lies. Days are spent working through the tragedies of life with people and celebrating when a broken heart finds hope. The problem in this camp is that too often there is a never ending focus on the person without bringing the main spotlight on God. When this happens, God exists for the person rather than the person existing to glorify God.
I want to explore this deeper. How do we develop a discerning heart that lives fully before a God that is more important than our spiritual journey, wounds, and dreams? It is the struggle for a rhythm between theology and the heart.