Let’s begin our study of Head, Heart & Hands by asking the provoking question:
As you characterize your conversion experience, would you say that it is one
- Of the head?
- Of the heart?
- Of the hands?
- A combination of one or more?
Hmm. Of the cuff I’d say, “First my head, then my heart and finally my hands. As my hands have followed Christ, I’ve found a ‘way of life’ emerge which weaves together ‘head, heart, and hands.’ How about you?”
Background on the study …
As I mentioned in The Spiritual Life as an Editorial Process, Dennis Hollinger contends in Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action (InterVarsity Press, 2005):
head, heart and hands all play a significant role in our Christian faith. Moreover, each dimension plays a crucial role in the expression of the others. Our minds, passions and actions interact in such a way that unless all three are present and nurturing each other, we are less than the people God created us to be. To be whole Christians, head, heart and hands must join together as joyous consorts. The problem is that most believers and Christian organizations or movements have accentuated one dimension to the neglect of the others (10).
The holistic perspective offered by Dennis Hollinger (President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) serves the whole believer and the whole Body of Christ, including Christian scholars. In response the Central PA Christian Scholars Network/ESN, in partnership with Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church and Hearts and Minds Bookstore, invited Hollinger to speak for a series in Fall 2010. Part of the congregational engagement with Head, Heart & Hands included a fall adult elective based on the book. It is from Kevin Milligan’s excellent class leadership (and notes) which I draw these posts. In distributing books among participants and local Christian scholars (some who participated in the class), I couldn’t keep enough copies of the book in stock, even with the help of InterVarsity Press and Hearts and Minds Bookstore. People are still looking for copies and gathering for small group discussions! If you don’t have a local/campus book discussion which you’re a part of this summer (or you’re looking for a book to read), I encourage you to gather some friends, start one up, and share your group’s thoughts with us on-line. As an individual and/or group, please feel free to answer 1, some, or all the questions in the comments section below.
Back to the study:
What words do you associate with Head, Heart, and Hands? (My first words are below, I’ll share more after the conversation has started …)
- Head: mind, doctrine, Presbyterian
- Heart: emotions, Pentecostal
- Hands: works, social action, Tony Campolo
Statements which characterize each of the three faith perspectives
- For the Head
- Approaching faith rationally is the most important part of faith
- Christians are asked to be ready to give the basis of their faith in Christ.
- For the Heart
- The important part of life doesn’t come from what I think. It only comes from within, what I feel.
- Faith is characterized by an increasing awareness of who God is and how He speaks to and acts within me.
- For the Hands
- Faith (head AND heart?) without works is dead. Care for those in need and acts of justice demonstrate the reality of being a Christian.
- Hearts and minds are transformed by do, acting out the Christian faith.
A few more questions for our consideration
- Which of the 3 “H’s” characterizes me?
- Deeper reflection: Is this generally true for those in higher education, my discipline, my “faith tradition,” and/or my family roots?
- Which represents my greatest opportunity for growth?
- Which presents the greatest hurdle to personal spiritual growth?
- How is the local congregation, ministries such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the larger Body of Christ to be involved in working so that the people of God are encouraged and equipped to grow in all three H’s?
Next Post in Series: Overview – Definitions of “Head,” “Heart,” and “Hands.”
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!