Through Head To Heart

If you can’t think it, don’t believe it. Though Wesley emphasized personal experience, he never separated what he believed from what he thought. A tough-minded Oxford don, he read the classics while traveling on horseback, and relished what he called the “honest art of intellectual debate.”

Behind the tight logic of his sermons is his premise that the way to the heart is through the head. His converts were convinced of the truth of the gospel before they were converted to personal faith in Christ. Wesley would be the first to agree with Paul that we should “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5, NIV).

But today, thinking and believing are severed in Christian thought. Many liberals are guilty of thinking without believing, and many conservatives are guilty of believing without thinking. Kierkegaard warns against detached heads or detached hearts in his book Purity of Heart. The head, he says, is the source of critical thinking, and the heart is the center of conscious convictions. A detached head holds no absolutes and advances no convictions. The result is a secular subjectivism with its theological blur of pluralistic gods. A detached heart, on the other hand, embraces a blind belief exempt from critical thinking. The result permits the parishioner to unscrew his head whenever belief encounters thought.

Neither mistake is worthy of Wesley’s view of the mind, one that acknowledges God as the source of all truth, and his Word as the inspired and infallible revelation. Head and heart cohere in the adventures of critical thinking and in the affirmations of settled convictions. Wesley would join his brother Charles in the eighteenth-century ...

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