Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Heart or Head? (or: How to Obtain Abs)

Call: Who is it that you seek?
Response: We seek the Lord our God.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Response: *Amen. Christ, have mercy. *

I pray these words. Daily. Technically, I suppose they are not prayers. More self-talk. Or, as I prefer, soul-talk. I pray other God-directed things which are more prayer-like, as well. The idea of "soul-talk" is not a novel practice. In fact, it's Biblical ("Why are you in despair, oh my soul? ... Hope in God!" Psalm 43:5) For centuries believers have done both: speak to God and speak to yourself. I think this is a healthy practice when properly understood. And I walk in good a good historical company of saints who followed a similar practice.

But that's not my point.

This is a view from this morning's walk

This morning as I walked and rehearsed these questions in my head (and out loud. Yes, I'm becoming the crazy old guy who walks around talking to himself), I began to consider the specifics of faith in the head and faith in the heart. Seek Him with all of your mind. Seek Him with all of your heart. Love Him with your head. Love Him with your emotions and passions and body.

I wonder if some find one more difficult than the other? Or are could it be that these channels of loving God, seeking God, are so seamlessly connected that faith stemming from the intellectual seat and faith stemming from the emotional seat are the same?

There are various points of view on this subject. What did the writers of Scripture intend when it comes to head and heart? Western (a.k.a. Greek) thought tends to carve people into parts like a Christmas turkey, whereas Hebrew and most Eastern thinking tends to consider people in a much more integrated fashion. The Hebrew mind wasn't so concerned with existential philosophies introduced by the Greeks (and which drives most of our modern Western thinking, even more than we even realize). The average Hebrew would have never concerned themselves with what makes a dog, dog-y - or a tree, tree-y - or a human, human-y. People are created in the image of God. Other parts of creation are not created in the image of God, yet still created by God. That is the reality in which we live. We love God with all of ourselves. Worship is mind, soul and body. Integrated. Whole.

I'm learning to prefer the Hebrew approach, actually. However, sometimes my Western brain gets the best of me.

Which is why I'd even ask the question: head or heart? Heart or head? Is one easier than the other? Is one better than the other?

The reality is that there are times when I believe God in my head, but my emotions are far from faith. I don't "feel" the strength of faith. At other times I know great feelings of faith and enrapturement (okay, fairly certaint that this is not a word. But I'm using it anyway) and those feelings originate from very little thought, the duplicity of which leads to struggles in my head like I had this morning.

Is it easier for some to believe with an intellectual bent and some to believe with an emotional bent? Are there times when it's easier for me to believe in my head and more difficult to believe in my heart - or the other way around?

Again, I'm fairly certain I'm approaching this the wrong way.

Created in the image of God, we have faculties - and all of our faculties work together to live by faith and to love. I'm quite sure that's what Deuteronomy 6 is talking about. There's no need to dissect or carve up our human-ness. I've come to the conclusion that the dichotomy/trichotomy argument in theology is really pointless (please don't throw things at me). Physical, spiritual, emotional , mental, while definitely describing various and distinct parts of the human experience, are in reality an integrated whole. One affects the other. A sick body can impact mind and emotions. Again, I'm not saying there's no distinction. I'm just not so sure it's that important, other than in the sense that this body will eventually decay (in fact, I'm feeling the effects of that already). But even then - we'll be made new. It's all going to be made new. Made ... whole.

I guess the point I arrive at is health. I want to be healthy in every area - because, at the end, I want to walk by faith and not by sight. It could be argued that our purpose on this earth is to love: to love God and to love those around us with all that makes "me," me (hmmm ... are we touching on the existential again?) It's not that helpful to separate me into tiny parts and focus on those, any more than it's helpful to separate my body into parts and only focus on those. I'm right handed, so I will only work out my right arm. That's not logical. And it's why most research is now telling us that if you want abs, you need to work out your entire body. We're integrated. We are not just the sum total of parts. We're much more complicated than that.

That's part of what it means to be created in the image of God.

So I seek Yahweh, I love Yahweh, I trust Yahweh with all that makes me, me. Heart, soul, mind and strength.

As He makes whole my whole.

And my head told my heart
”Let love grow”
And my heart told my head
”This time no”
— Mumford and Sons