I often hear, “It’s not about a head knowledge. It’s about a heart knowledge.”
Is this true? Is Christianity primarily meant to be experiential? Are we not supposed to care about knowledge and growing in our understanding of God?
The reality is that I think that there are three main reasons for this:
1. We have setup false dichotomies in our belief system. For example, we say, “Christianity is not a religion… it’s a relationship.” We say this as if it is one or the other. In all reality it is both. In doing this, we tend to oversimplify complex things of our faith. Sometimes being fearful of the unhealthy ways that people of past generations have viewed and lived out Christianity, so we try to overcompensate.
2. We are taught that the Pharisee’s problem was that they studied the ins and outs of theology. In all reality that was not the problem! The problem wasn’t their devotion to theology. Their problem was that they were hypocrites and had bad theology.
We tend to say things like, “God used uneducated disciples to change the world.” By doing this, we glorify a lack of education. We forget that Paul was a Pharisee and wrote most of our New Testament. His education, knowledge, and pedigree was outstanding, and he used it for his advantage to write and teach with authority. He used strong literary principles of the Jewish people of that day, he flawlessly used his knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures to spread the gospel, and he pointed people to Christ because of his intellect.
3. We have become more Biblically illiterate, and we are okay with it. This is not something that we need to be shamed about, but I believe that we have made excuses as to why we don’t care to put in the work to know more about scripture and know more about God.
In our modern churches, our main focus is normally outsiders. We use this as the reason to build “experiences”, because yes, it is important for people to experience God. If we don’t move people into engaging the rest of their being (mind, body, belongings, etc.) it will only be experience deep.
I want to build a case with both Jesus’s and Paul’s teachings.
Let’s look at one of Jesus’s interactions:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
Remember, theology wasn’t the the pharisee’s problem. Bad theology was! In this passage, they asked about taxes, they asked about marriage, and then they asked about the greatest commandment. Not only were they trying to trap Jesus, they were looking for simple answers. To them, loving God was just about minimal behaviors that they can check off. It wasn’t about caring about knowing God or knowing about Him.
Jesus replied by basically telling them to love God with all that you are! So what does it mean than to “love God with all of your mind?” I believe that it can be boiled down to this phrase, “learn to think about God well!”
This means that if we do not care about head knowledge, we are challenging Jesus. We are telling Him that we don’t agree with what He says about the greatest commandment.
Lastly, let’s look at Paul.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
There are three things mentioned in these verses that flow into one another:
Worship -> Renewing of your mind -> Knowing God’s will
So many Christians want to know God’s will. They stress about God’s will. This passage tells us that if we want to know God’s will, we need to renew our mind. This isn’t a one time thing! This is a continual thing! If we continually want to know what God asks and expects from us, we need to continually grow in our knowledge of Him and His truths. We see the world and interact with our world fully based on what we believe. If we want to see and interact with the world like Jesus, our thoughts need to be continually shaped that direction.
This starts with seeking to follow what Jesus was talking about. Love God with all that you are. Offer all that you are to Him (mind, body, heart, etc.). Oh and by the way… this is the definition of “worship” that is mentioned in Romans 12.
It is not about having a heart knowledge or a head knowledge. That is a false dichotomy. It is about offering all of it and growing in all of it with Jesus!
If you are interested in more resources:
Check out an older post of mine called “Good Will Hunting and Free Bible Education” for online Bible education for free.
You can also check out ntwrightonline.org