“Holding together what people tend to pull apart”
To facilitate conversation (inspired by Gene’s comment on the previous post): Would love to have you briefly share …
- How you describe your “theological/spiritual development.”
- How your “theological/spiritual development” guides/relates to your academic, community, family, personal, spiritual/religious life.
- Whether you consider yourself to be “theologically/spiritually” “eclectic” or on a “journey” within the Christian tradition.
In response to “What theologians have influenced you?” Dennis Hollinger shares:
The writings of C. S. Lewis have been very significant. I’m eclectic in my theology. I have drawn from the wells of Wesley, Calvin, Augustine, and the Anabaptist tradition. One thing that characterizes my own life and my approach to ministry and theological education is holding together what people tend to pull apart. My book Head, Heart & Hands reflects that approach. Those oriented toward the head have said that if we get our biblical and theological knowledge down, that will really put us in the good spot for the rest of our lives. The heart-oriented folks say that if our hearts are strangely warmed by God, that will develop Christian maturity. Others focus more on the action side. What I do in that book is argue that not only must all three be present, but also that they really need to nurture each other. That insight stems from my background of having worked in a number of different denominational settings.
Do you see the tensions between evangelicals stemming primarily from the head, the heart, or the hands?
Our perspectives are never purely theological. We’re shaped by our context. We’re shaped by our personalities. We’re shaped by our experiences in life for good and ill. When we do theological education we need to be aware of the context that has shaped us. That carries over into ministry, because then we recognize the way in which we take the Word of God. It’s transcendent, but we always bring it into the midst of a very specific context, meeting people with their unique personalities, hurts, and struggles, particular cultural backgrounds, and particular geographical locations. — Coordinating the Head, Heart, and Hands: New president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary seeks to hold together what others pull apart. Collin Hansen. Christianity Today International. Posted 7/28/2008 09:08AM.
Help us identify beneficial “Head, Heart and Hands” resource materials
To facilitate conversation (and benefit ESN more broadly): Please pass along in the comment section …
- Other resources (articles, books, conferencing, quotes, study centers, websites, youtube clips, etc) which you’ve found of value in understanding and living out the relationship of head-heart-hands (or some combination such as heart-mind, heart-soul-mind-strength)? Could be inspiration (with ESN or in other places) for future conferences, posts, readings, studies, talks, etc 🙂
A few to start us off …
- Campus Resources from InterVarsity Press: Complied for Graduate & Faculty Ministry
- ESN Core Bibliography
- Hearts & Minds Bookstore’s Recommendations on Books by Vocation. Click here for Byron Borger’s post on Head, Heart & Hands.
- Two quotes provided by Kevin Milligan in the adult elective at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church. Note: See the previous post for more on the genesis of this study guide as part of a local Emerging Scholars Network partnership (South Central Scholars Network PA FB and Christian Scholar Series).
- The Christian seeks a proper blend between the heart and the mind. There is no incompatibility between the warm heart and the clear head. Just as children may need to learn to think logically, adults may need to rediscover the magic of the imagination. Scripture points to our rationality as a part of the divine image in which we are created. On the other hand, God made us emotional as well as rational. We humans are capable of deep feelings of love, compassion, and sorrow. Significantly, Jesus was not ashamed to express emotion. Twice he burst into tears in public. Lewis allows Screwtape to say that humans “are amphibians–half spirit and half animal….As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to the eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change….” — Seattle Pacific University Professor Emeritus Michael H. McDonald’s 1986 article, “In Defense of Permanent Things” with an assist from Screwtape Letters’ Letter 8.
- One of the greatest weaknesses which we Christians (especially evangelical Christians) display is our tendency to extremism or imbalance. It seems that there is almost no pastime the devil enjoys more than tipping Christians off balance. My conviction is that we should love balance as much as the devil hates it, and seek to promote it as vigorously as he seeks to destroy it. — Balanced Christianity – a Call to Avoid Unnecessary Polarisation (John R.W. Stott. Hodder and Stoughton, 1978.). Note: If you haven’t don’t such already, take some time to read the Emerging Scholars Network Blog series on John Stott’s Your Mind Matters. Comments are still open …
That’s enough for today. Tomorrow I’ll post on “Jesus and Head, Heart and Hands” and “The early Church and Christians and Head Heart and Hands.” Until then, looking forward to your responses and praying for God’s blessing upon Christ’s work by the power of the Spirit through your head, heart, and hands.
Postscript: What words do you associate with Head, Heart & Hands?
Feel free to add more, debate the categorizations, question categorizing such items, or argue for how various ‘characters’ are actually in more than one category — possibly with one category taking a lead, but none-the-less in all three. Maybe Tony Campolo serves as an example 🙂
- Head: mind, the intellect, thoughts, biblical knowledge, theology, wisdom, truth, the Word, faith, rationality, cognitive approach, scholasticism, orthodoxy, doctrines, Presbyterian
- Heart: emotions, feelings, affections, spiritual experiences, soul, spirit, imagination, passion, the Spirit, piety, personal holiness, mysticism, the inner self, Pentecostal, charismatic
- Hands: works, social action, Christian action, ministry, outward expression of faith, service, justice, acts of mercy, Tony Campolo
Next post in series: Overview – Definitions of “Head,” “Heart,” and “Hands.” Part 2.
*Drawn from an adult elective based upon Dennis Hollinger‘s “Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action” (InterVarsity Press, 2005). Kevin Milligan facilitated the class at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church. Note: See the first post in the series for more on the genesis of this study guide as part of a local Emerging Scholars Network partnership (South Central Scholars Network PA FB and Christian Scholar Series).
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!