Friday, December 14, 2012

With All of your heart, soul, strength, and mind...maybe

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strenght, and with all your mind" (NRSV Luke 10:27). I find it to be an ever present battle in both the Church and the Academy to actually fulfill this commandment. There seems to be every excuse in the book not to. "Why do you want to study systematic theology?"; In reference to theology, "you like that stuff?"; "Pastoral minds are simple"; "That's too basic for me". These are all phrases that I have heard either in regards to the Church being too practical/pastoral or the Academy being too abstract/intellectual.This, is indeed problematic.

If Jesus said that we should love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, then we very well should! There is no such thing as the Church having no room for theology or the Academy having no need for pastoral care. If God is lord of our lives and being in toto then he is Lord over all of our physical and mental faculties--we were not meant to love the Lord compartmentally or in a vacuum. Herman Bavinck writes, “Precisely because God is God he claims us totally, in soul and body, with all our capacities and in all our relations.” It is by virtue of being God that he claims us entirely, and as such, our being, in response, must submit entirely. There is no place for a preacher to lack theological knowledge or for the teacher to lack even a hint of care for a person beyond their intellectual capacities. There is a strong disjunction between what the Church and the Academy claim as there foreground, as their gospel. If the body of Christ is to be found in uniformity then the gospel by which any form of reflection upon the Christian faith might take place, must indeed be identical to the Word: Living, Written, and Spoken. Piety is not a sufficient ground for practically oriented reflection to take place, nor are philosophically based principles sufficient. Thus, if both the Church and Academy took seriously the fact that they both reflect upon the Word of God, which is the gospel found in the person of Jesus Christ, then they would realize that their mission, although functionally asymmetrical, is identical with one another. The mind and the heart are two sides of the same coin, but what must be gleaned from such a position is that they are the same coin. 

The mission of Christ' church is not about vacuity, but about holism. Loving the Lord your God with only your heart is not wholly loving, and loving the Lord your God with only your mind is equally not wholly loving. There must be another way by which the entirety of the Church can learn to love God entirely. And, it's only by following this commandment that we can actually do so.

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