The Mind and the Heart

In describing us to other people, my wife will tell them she is a feeler and that I am a thinker. She is very emotional and I am much more stoic. We recognize how this enables us to complement one another as husband and wife. However, there are also times these differences can create problems.

What we need to realize is this is how God made us. This is what makes human beings so grand. We can think, reason, and be creative with our minds, but also feel deep emotions in our hearts.

I don’t think we realize how the mind and the heart collectively play a role in determining what is true and then following the truth.

A number of years ago I read Paul Johnson’s best-selling book, Modern Times, which documented the history of the twentieth century.

There is a chapter in the book called, “Waiting for Hitler” where Johnson makes an interesting observation. He says there is no way Hitler could have come to power by honestly divulging his vision for Nazi Germany. It would not have worked in Germany because as Johnson put it, “The Germans were the best-educated nation in the world. To conquer their minds was very difficult. Their hearts, their sensibilities, were easier targets.” Johnson says that Germany could not be taken by force, it had to be seduced, and this is what Hitler did. He seduced the hearts of the German people, and led them down the road of destruction.

It is amazing how our feelings and emotions can cause us to bypass logic and reason which in turn leads us to make terrible decisions.

In the work that I do, it has become quite apparent to me how the mind and the heart play such a crucial role in coming to faith.

In his late 20’s and early 30’s C.S. Lewis was a religious skeptic, but, he was also struggling in his belief in atheism. He was surprised that so many of his intelligent friends, such as J.R. Tolkien, not only believed in God, but in Jesus as God. Over time, Lewis continuously encountered new insights which were in conflict with his current belief. Lewis then began to realize something quite significant. His intellect was taking him in a direction his heart did not want to go.

Isn’t that interesting. Lewis’ mind was being drawn to what he clearly recognized to be true, but his heart was resistant. His heart was very comfortable with his current lifestyle. Lewis later recognized that his attraction to atheism “gratified my wishes.” He acknowledged that he had a strong desire in his heart to be free of any authority who might interfere with his life. To Lewis, God was the great interferer. It took several years for him to get to the point where he was willing to surrender his heart to Christ.

Blaise Pascal made this very insightful observation; “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, but on the basis of what they find attractive.” In other words, many people’s belief about God and the spiritual world is not supported by evidence, but by subjective preference. But truth can’t be opinion or a subjective preference of taste. Truth is an objective reality that we must follow because it leads to our ultimate well-being.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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