Our Discipleship Problem (Part 3)

“The Heart” is an important, if cliche, concept in American culture. We love with our hearts, we’re led by our hearts, we give our hearts away, we have our hearts broken, we sometimes have to even tell our hearts “no.” I am not sure what any of this means (except that perhaps musicians need to come up with new lyrics), but we talk about the heart constantly in American culture. The Bible talks about the heart too, but it does so in very different terms. Last week we discussed the nature of man as Descartes saw it, and how that anthropology shapes our methodology in discipleship. Unlike Descartes view of man as a thing that thinks, the Bible speaks of man with a bit more complexity. It does so with the term heart. In the Bible the heart is the center of the human being.

In his lecture “Deconstructing Discipleship” Bob Thune highlights the different ways in which “heart” is used in Scripture. As the center of our being the heart is the seat of desire (Romans 10:1), the place of understanding (John 12:40), and the place of decision or choice (Jeremiah 29:13). The “heart,” in Scripture, encompasses the heart, spirit, will, and mind. According to Jesus himself it is the heart that directs our actions. Here’s what Jesus says in Luke 6:44-45:

44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:44-45)

So Biblical anthropology says that we are not primarily thinking things, but rather we are, as Thune says, desiring things. It is our heart’s desires that compel us to action. This view of man, then, dictates a different approach to discipleship. It is not enough to simply impart knowledge, because after all it is the desires in our hearts that need changed. Now knowledge will play a part, even a major part in the process of transformation but it cannot be the only piece. For genuine discipleship to occur we must engage the desires of our hearts!

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  1. […] Part 3: A Biblical Anthropology will shape a Biblical Pedagogy […]

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