One of the great misconceptions about religion, especially Christianity, is that it has to do with the “heart” but not the “head.” Cartoonish generalizations are common:
• Faith is based on emotion rather than reason.
• Faith is ultimately irrational since it can’t be scientifically proven.
• Faith is subjective while reason is objective.
As philosophers and psychologists know, there is no pure objectivity in our use of reason. The best science is inspired by informed hunches, trained instinct, and focused passion. For all of us, our supposedly rational choices result from logic that is shaped by our upbringing, culture, worldview, biases, desires, and other circumstances. Our intellect is not a detached “higher faculty,” but is bound up with our whole being as humans.
Jesus added something to ancient Jewish wisdom. Look how he quotes the Shema (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”). Jesus rephrased it like this: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27). Jesus teaches us to love God with our intellect, along with heart, soul, and strength. John’s gospel appropriately interprets Jesus as “the Word (Logos) made flesh.” Interesting that every academic field is an “-ology.”
I first came to experience Jesus Christ as Savior in my “heart” thanks to a course in Christian theology as a junior at Hamilton College. When it got into my brain, experiences in the realms of emotion and commitment followed. Rational understanding led to wholehearted faith and a sense of direction in my life.
How can you love and serve God with your intellect more fully? Some areas to consider: Growing in your knowledge of Scripture, theology, and Christian worldview. Learning how to explain your faith to skeptics and seekers. Developing your capacity to “think Christianly” in the complex arenas of business, academic, or civic life.