Head and Heart
John Frame defines theology as “the application of Scripture, by persons, to every area of life.” This definition has always been an intriguing one to me. Often we look at theology as a matter of attaining more “head knowledge.” The “heart knowledge” is when we come to truly believe something and it changes our lives. However, what Frame’s definition does is break down that differentiation. If theology is application, then we are all theologians in everything we do. Everything in our lives says something about what we believe about God and ourselves.
This is why the psalmist in Psalm 14 says, “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The psalmist’s point is that practical atheism is living as if God does not exist. Atheism is not just shouting in the town square “God does not exist,” but displaying it in the way we live. The Frame and the psalmist are saying the same thing, “all theology is application.” Now the question comes—what are we applying? Good theology is the application of Scripture. Bad theology is the application of another authority.
It seems to me that this dividing of “head” and “heart” is not a biblical model. The pursuit of good theology is the pursuit of wisdom. When we look at the wisdom literature of the Bible, we see that it requires a pursuing of the character necessary to discern and obey God’s law in particular circumstances. True wisdom is learning to be fixed on the immovable Word (Christ), while having the freedom to respond and improvise with the Spirit. It is knowing the truth and applying the truth in every area of life. As we walk together, let us encourage each other not to separate theory and practice, but to apply Scripture to every area of our lives, and in so doing pursue wisdom together.
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