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All head no heart??

I've just heard yet another institution described in all too familiar terms:

"Don't get me wrong, their theology is straight down the line. They're faithful, biblical, solid, orthodox, sound as a pound. You couldn't fault them on their teaching... It's just... Well, they're not very loving. In fact they're pretty closed. Cold even. Harsh actually. Come to think of it they're some of the most hard hearted people I've ever met."

This is horrendously common. What do we reckon is a good response?

My immediate reaction is: Where *are* these total-gospel Christians with diamond-hard hearts? What kind of gospel must this be? How could 'solid, orthodox, faithful' theology produce loveless believers? Do we really think they've got their theology right, they just *happen* to be bearing no gospel fruit?

And what remedy would we propose for such cool-headed, cold-hearted Christians? Do we assume that they already know the gospel and therefore need to be inspired to love via other means? What means?

No. Next time you hear someone say "He/She/They are solid theologically, they're just not loving", say "Pish, Tosh, Codswallop, Bunkum and Balderdash!"

They *cannot* be solid theologically. Maybe once they were. Maybe their reputation still resounds around the world. But their gospel is revealed far more clearly in their lives than in some abstract credal conformity.

Don't dare concede to such people that 'they're cold but still sound.' No, you've smelt the stench, now hunt down the source. It'll go all the way to the core of their allegedly orthodox theology.

It'll take a root and branch reformation to sort out this lot. But don't settle for anything less.

0 thoughts on “All head no heart??

  1. Dev

    yea i've always had a problem with this

    it must be totally impossible to 'know' Jesus if you don't act like Him... and the 2 must be related - the more you know the more you act

    so then Satan would be the best at saying the 'correct' things, but a man of God, a man of Grace, can easily pick out that they are skewed

  2. Dev

    oh and why i insist on this is not to say because i know Him and others don't

    but so that i am assured that my real problem is that i don't know Him enough - that is why i struggle with certain issues

    and so my solution would be to spend more time with Him...

    otherwise the alternative is what?

  3. Paul Huxley

    I like this a lot.

    One caution though. Before heresy-hunting, make sure that they actually *are* cold-hearted. Sometimes people with certain personalities mistake other people as cold-hearted, when they are actually lively, Godly people.

  4. Rich Owen

    Very interesting.

    Same can be said of people right? Reputation of soundness, teaching, gospel etc... but no fruit. I agree with the theory of this totally.

    Keen to sound a note of caution - notwithstanding Paul H's point above. Just concious of how easy it is to do the "them and us" thing:

    They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"

  5. Paul Blackham

    Dev, thanks for this. Both posts very helpful. I so easily pick away at all kinds of theological issues or church critiques or intellectual challenges when the real problem is simply that I do not love Jesus as I should. Why doesn't Jesus in the gospels put any weight at all on theological orthodoxy? The Pharisees are very 'orthodox' yet they do not love others and do not love Jesus. When the facade is ripped away their 'orthodoxy' was as far from 'right worship' as is possible: they did not even know the Living God when He was standing right in front of them, and certainly didn't worship or glorify Him.

    It is no accident if our theology is not full of zeal for Jesus. Sometimes people tell me that they don't need to mention Jesus all the time... He is implied... He is in the big scheme of things etc. Any theology that does not begin and end with Jesus, orbiting around Him and always coming back to Him, cannot produce Sermon on the Mount living.

    Also, thanks Paul for that reminder - a person might be totally self-sacrificial in their community service and practical help but they just might not be 'gushy' about it. We need to go beyond social stereotypes here. In the teaching of Jesus, practical results, concrete examples of love and service are much more important than emotional/psychological profiles. If someone loves Jesus and lays down their life in genuine service of others, then they are totally godly and orthodox no matter how 'extrovert' or 'introvert' they may appear to others.

    However, the opposite problem to me is also common where we avoid so many Biblical challenges because 'that's not my gift' or 'I'm not an extrovert in that way' or 'I need my own space/time' or 'I'm not emotional/social/sharing etc'

    Glen, this is such an important issue. True theology must produce fruitful lives. The purpose of Scripture is that we are totally equipped to live like Jesus, full of good works. Think of that wonderful teaching from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.

    "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away... Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

    It's well worth meditating on this. Paul tells us so clearly that even knowledge [as we 'know' it, in this partial, reflected and imperfect way] will pass away. YET, love... of Jesus most and of each other too... will never pass away. Love is treasure in heaven, eternal investment. We will still see the fruits of love in a trillion years into the renewed creation, but nothing of my 'knowledge' will still be taken seriously.

    The goal of all our theological and Biblical studies cannot be 'knowledge' as such. So often I'm fascinated by questions about angels, the cosmos, the ancient history of this or that etc etc... but not so interested in how to show the love of Jesus in concrete ways to the people who live in my street/sit next to me in church. How can my account of the Living God [theology] be true or faithful or godly if it does not produce the fruit, the worship that the Father is looking for? The goal has to be love... the real, practical, hands-on, costly love that is so utterly glorious and God-like. The truly great theologian will always have this real love. What I admire most about John Piper is not his theology/preaching but his love in adoption. THAT is why I take time to listen to his preaching and always take his theology seriously.

    I know it sounds very basic but living faith is not merely 'believing that' [as the demons do] but 'trusting in'. We know if a person trusts Jesus by the way they live. If I claim to 'believe in' or have 'faith in' God/Jesus/the gospel and yet the people in my neighbourhood do not see the genuine love of Jesus in my life and in the local church's life... do I believe in the sense that Jesus means? Is my theology real or true? In the Bible the truth is something that we LIVE rather than something that we merely KNOW.

    Yes, living like Jesus has a deep foundation in the truth and way of Jesus. We cannot live and love as we should without the knowledge of the truth in Jesus. Yet, our knowledge must always be serving our loving... love must be the priority, the true goal. Theology has always been and still is my great passion... and yet my motivation has changed over time. Less concern for abstract questions, more concern for Jesus.

    Think of Paul's utterly glorious prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 - "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

    Power to know, rooted in love, Christ dwelling in our hearts... and the goal of our knowing? The love of Christ.

    Liz and I had a real turning point experience some years ago. We saw how some people and an individual were treated when they stepped out of line and it seemed more like they were savaged by a pack of wolves rather than gently restored by a loving family. The harshness displayed when some point of doctrine is questioned or when certain obvious sins are committed is frightening... when we compare this to Jesus Himself. He is able to be both truthful and loving, strong and gracious. Sure, we cannot be like Him... but when we are almost the very opposite... can we really pretend that we know the truth, that we are sound or orthodox?

    I remember looking at myself in the mirror [literally] and realising that I saw myself as some kind of defender of 'orthodoxy' as one who 'contends for the faith'... and yet... I didn't know my neighbours, my possessions were not the common property of the church family, my free time was basically my own, my money was my own, I hadn't brought anybody to Jesus for months, I felt comfortable walking down the street in silence and inaction... Whenever anyone disagreed with me I invoked Paul from Galatians all too quickly as if every point of doctrine struck to the very heart of the gospel. What a vile Pharisee! In spite of all my orthodox posturing and lining up behind all the current hot button issues - women, gays, lordship salvation, charisma etc etc - what kind of orthodoxy was this? How could this be right worship of the LORD Jesus when I wasn't carrying my cross each day? Yes, I still look at myself in the mirror and feel the challenge... an unprofitable servant, worse than the rest... but "i am assured that my real problem is that i don’t know Him enough – that is why i struggle with certain issues

    and so my solution would be to spend more time with Him…

    otherwise the alternative is what?"

  6. dave

    I agree totally, though whoever they are they might also not be as bad as their reputation... we Christians can be wonderfully lacking in generosity and humility as we evaluate others. Specs and planks and all that.

    ...sneaks off back into his God-forbid-we-might-be-an-institution-church-and-mission-agency-that-sometimes-get-characterised-that-way-and-probably-are-at-times-and-in-places...

  7. Paul Blackham

    One small footnote. In the turning point experience, we were in the pack of wolves... not innocent bystanders.

  8. pgjackson

    You're dead right Glen. Well done for getting this whole idea nailed. Ha, and to imagine that some people out there teach that orthodoxy without orthopraxy is fine. Man, I'm so glad I've not fallen into that doctrinal error ...

    ... oh.

    [Just by way of an interesting aside - do we ever hear institutions being criticised for being 'all heart, no head'? I suspect not commonly. And I suspect there's something in that.]

  9. Hiram

    I can't separate knowing God from knowing His Word; and knowing His Word is, ipso facto, knowing theology.

    A sound understanding of the Law, for example, will smash a proud man to an infinite mess of fragments and completely destroy the notion that he somehow is better than another. And a proper understanding of the Gospel will show remind him of the infiinite mercy and goodness of God to save a wretch like him.



  10. Glen

    Absolutely Hiram! So all those claims to 'sound' and 'proper' theology that bear fruit in pride and self-righteousness must be false. We cannot help but become like what we trust (Ps 115:8).

  11. Si Hollett

    I was mulling this over last night, in one of those replay conversations where you end up victorious in the fictitious debate after something someone said that rubbed you up the wrong way (which was on this topic).

    You have the Pharisees who appear to have both doctrine or practise, but have neither and Jesus smacks them down for Christless doctrine (John 5:39-40) and loveless law-keeping (Mark 7:6-7)

    You have those who appear to have works but get called out on faith (Matt 7:21-23)

    And you have those who appear to have faith, but get called out on works. (James)

    The more you learn about Jesus, the more you should love him and want him. The more you love Jesus, the more you'd want to know him and know about him and what he's done.

    "[Just by way of an interesting aside - do we ever hear institutions being criticised for being 'all heart, no head'? I suspect not commonly. And I suspect there's something in that.]"

    The Corinthians? 1 Cor 14's bits on tongues seem to make this argument that they don't care about the head. The complaints against shallow emotionalism in 'Jesus is my boyfriend' songs in the modern day are similar. You also get lots of complaints about the vapid evangelicalism where it's all about "experiencing the Lord" but never going deeper than ankle height with theology.

    But's never phrased quite the same, probably because it's either said by loveless guys that the comments in the OP are aimed at, or people who know that you can't be truly devoted to God for a while and know so little about him, because of the head-heart connection.

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