Be asking yourself: Which side of the debate do I usually find myself on? Why? In what areas do my strengths lay? Where can I grow?
Why can this become a heated debate topic?
And…should this be a debate at all?
Emotional Followers or Intellectual Followers?
Those who are led by their hearts or those who are led more by their brains? Which are we supposed to be?
Trick question. We’re supposed to be both.
On some level, we must have a connection with our faith that stems from both our hearts and our minds.
It will come as a surprise to no one to learn that I more often than not fall on the emotional side of things. More than anyone, I know what trouble allowing your emotions to completely overtake you can be. I know that I need to work on controlling emotional outbursts, but that doesn’t mean that emotions cannot play a role in our faith lives.
However, I do not understand how I’ve gotten in more discussions recently about the heart versus the mind debate where I’ve been told that all emotional responses – even in a faith setting – must be strictly controlled. Emotions are fluctuating and evil; strong knowledge, an understanding of God and our faith in our minds, emotion-less reactions full of thoughts and facts and certainty – this is what we should strive for.
Do emotions have a place in our faith?
Yes, it is important that we grow to strengthen that connection in our minds. We cannot trust all of our emotions, but neither can we trust all of our own thoughts. Jesus taught us to train our hearts (Proverbs 3:5-6) and our minds (Romans 12-2; Philippians 4:7) It’s both. One was not elevated above the other. In fact, Christ showed both emotional and intellectual reactions during his time on earth. We are told in the scriptures that He wept. Overcome with emotion, He showed compassion and love. And at the same time, He pondered certain things, He sought the truth. He made sure that his mind was lined up with the Father’s will. You see, it’s not supposed to be one versus the other. Rather we are called to strengthen and use both.
Emotions have a role to play in our faith lives. I don’t trust a Christian speaker who never seems to have an emotional reaction to the presence of God in their lives. I’m not saying that I’m looking for big emotional breakdowns or anything like that. But there is such a thing as emotional knowledge. And if you have absolutely no heart connection to our God, then have you ever really experienced Him? That’s my opinion. It just so happens that this was the first personal way that I connected with God, and it continues to be the strongest. I will often talk about how I feel Him working in my life, in my heart.
On the other hand, I’m not going to discredit those who have more of a mental fortitude, a connection with God through their minds. I might not understand “thoughts first,” but there is strength there too. It is a necessity to be able to train your mind, reason with knowledge, defend the faith with precision, and so on.
Looking at this debate in the context of a recent Bible Study convinces me more than ever that it is the combination of faith connections made in our hearts and our minds that will allow us to grow in our faith.
Feel vs. Think
We were starting a study on Philippians.
I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
The prevalent point here was that “feel” in verse 7 was actually supposed to be translated “think.” That could make sense given the context. But the group leader decided to stop and spend time debating what I thought was an unnecessary “down the rabbit hole” argument: Isn’t think a stronger verb here? Doesn’t it mean more? Isn’t it more important that he ‘thought’ this?
I didn’t raise my hand to give the answer I wanted to give. Only one person vocalized a “No!”
As long as we’re nitpicky over words, allow me to wrap up this article with the nugget of truth that I’ve uncovered for myself through these debates: the stronger word isn’t thought or feel. It’s know.
Feel vs. Think Know!
When it comes to faith “I think” and “I feel,” although they may seem like strong statements to the one speaking them, can both be seen as inconsequential to those listening. It’s “I know” that stands this test.
To know is to combine our heart and head knowledge. To know is to have gotten past merely thinking or feeling that something is true and start living it. To call on a recent example: to know that God is active in our lives is to have a heart-deep feeling and an unshakable knowledge that He is.
Remember this command: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Can we let this be our first “I know” statement this day?
What I want is for everyone to find themselves standing in God’s Truth shouting “I know!” to a world who thinks they know. And to our doubts let us say, “I know that God is even here in the midst of this mist.” I know that you will be found in God’s embrace.
Melody Quinn is a recently married ex-English major who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She celebrated her second year wedding anniversary with fellow book nerd Kevin on April 9th, 2018. She graduated from SFASU with a degree in English and Technical Writing and is currently working as an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. Melody is a member of North Baptist Church in Fort Worth. In her free time, she enjoys spending hours reading and writing, trying out new recipes in her kitchen, and playing with her baby guinea pig, Gwen.
Hi Melody. As I see it, the world follows its own emotional desires (‘the flesh’) and logical arguments (human wisdom). Grasping the truth of the gospel with the heart, as Christians do, is a matter of faith, not knowledge. The heart holds the intentions and beliefs of the speaker. Maybe just a matter of semantics? But in any case, yes, Christians should follow God with every part of our body, soul and spirit.
Thank you for addressing this important topic with such a nice balance of heart and mind. And, good point on the “know,” especially as we study how the word is used in the Bible.