It’s not just the hearts, it’s the smarts as well.   Recently updated!


I often flip that line when recruiting students for the honors college (“We are looking for people with not just the smarts, but the hearts as well.”). But as Chris Tilling points out, Christians (and not just Evangelicals) often go too far into the “hearts” side of faith and usually without understanding the biblical concept of “heart.” 

…the Greek word, καρδία (heart), doesn’t mean “muh-feels as opposed to suspicious mental work”. Rather, as the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament states, it refers “to the inner person,the seat of understanding, knowledge, and will” (Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider eds., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–, p.250). Knowledge and understanding! That’s what the heart, biblically speaking, is all about. 

The Louw-Nida Greek New Testament lexicon presses the issue:
καρδία, ας f: (a figurative extension of meaning of καρδία ‘heart,’ not occurring in the NT in its literal sense) the causative source of a person’s psychological life in its various aspects, but with special emphasis upon thoughts.


This is all related to an important Hebrew term, which presents us with much the same picture. Just go check out the standard Hebrew lexicon, the BDB, on the Hebrew לֵבָב for more on this, and you’ll soon see that it is better not to divide head and heart, or mind and emotions, as if the latter are about something “deeper” and more important.

Indeed, where anti-intellectuals tend to drive wedges, the scriptural witness brings heart and mind together. So Deuteronomy 6:5 states that “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” to emphasise the unity of the human being in relationship with God (See also Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). 

It is not about “feeling” something, it is about fully embracing with all of our being. That is the reason Deuteronomy uses three words to express how we shall love the LORD and not just one. 

We do not need to apologize for our intellectual pursuits. We also do not need to be condescending. (Which, for the record, I do not think Chris is doing.) What we need to be doing is fully embracing God and his calling for us. When we neglect any portion of our being we diminish the whole. 

 

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