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Mind and Emotion

Posted Tuesday, September 04, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Culture and Theology  

I heard a pastor say a statement recently that I have also said but that struck me as wrong when I heard it. The statement was that we need to make sure our mind tells our heart what to do, because the heart is the location of our sinful nature. The problem I had with this was two-fold. First, it was dualistic: it made a absolutely good mind and an evil heart. Secondly, it ignored total depravity: every aspect of our being is corrupted sin, including our mind. Therefore, a time might happen when we need to follow our heart and not our mind. This emphasis upon the mind refects our fascination with the Enlightenment, where the mind is given priority to understand anything, without prejudice. But there is no perfectly neutral obersver, we are all situated somewhere and we all have preconceived notions of some kind. We have been dramatically affected by our culture (modernism, in this case) and confused that with a biblical worldview. 

By the way, I do think the statement still  has some validity. For example, David talks to himself and I think we should do the same type of thing (O soul, why are you downcast?). We need to remind ourselves of truth and the proper way to feel and live. But sometimes our mind needs to be taught, too. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 8:32 AM

Brian wrote: Mind your mind, if you don't mind...

Your unease over giving the mind a pass is heartening. The mind can be fleshly (Col. 2:18), futile (Eph. 4:17), debased (Rom. 1:28) and defiled (Titus 1:15), and they need to be guarded (Phil. 4:7). The mind is a useful tool, but I cannot find any recommendation in Scripture for us to rely on it. 

On the other hand, the heart can produce good. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart" and "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45). The heart can be pure and the source of good or evil, but the mind can produce nothing.   

 I introduced our misunderstanding of the heart briefly a couple of years ago in The Matter of the Heart, but I didn't complete that study. We are well established in our Western understanding of the heart, and it is hard to become Biblical in it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 12:35 PM

Eric wrote: 

Nice post Charlie.  This sounds very much like the roots of gnosticism.  Total depravity means that our depravity encompasses every part of our being.

This area, it seems to me, is one in which Evangilicals find themselves a bit schitzo.  On the one hand, education, learning, knowledge is not to be trusted because it is worldly.  On the other hand, we can't trust our emotions because they will lead us astray.   

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