Horton on Heart and Mind

This morning I read this in Michael Horton’s new book, The Gospel Commission, and my heart flipped for joy:

The gospel is not a comfort for the heart if it cannot be embraced by the mind….
Lazy minds breed lazy hearts and hands. The greatest threat to Christianity is never vigorous intellectual criticism but a creeping senility that transforms truths into feelings, public claims into private experiences, and facts into mere values. Christianity is either true or false, but it is not irrational. If its claims are not objectively true, then they are not subjectively useful. If our only reason for believing that Jesus is alive i that ‘he lives within my heart,’ then, as Paul said, ‘our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor. 15:14-15, 17, 19).
Faith is not an arbitrary decision but a gracious gift of God that comes through hearing and understanding Christ’s person and work. It’s certainly true that faith is trust in a person, but we cannot trust a person without knowing who he is and what he has done that is worthy of our confidence. Faith is more than knowing and assenting to facts, but it is not less. Even repentance means ‘change of mind.’ Before we can bear the fruit of repentanc in godly living, our minds have to be changed. We must recover our distinctively biblical commitment to rigorous, inquisitive, and persuasive thinking before there can be a genuine renewal of Christian conviction, faith, repentance, and discipleship. It is time once again to love God with our minds. It is surely not enough to know the truth, but it is the unavoidable place to start.
As Paul said in his Mars Hill address, the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the question that faces us all. It is not a question of whose religion works best in the long run or which produces the greatest benefits for the greatest number of people. Was Jesus raised as the firstfruits of the new creation? That is the question that pulls all others into its wake. The gospel addresses our deepest (though suppressed) existential anxieties about ultimate meaning, life, death, guilt, and judgment. However, it does so precisely because it announces a historical fact. Arguments and evidence may persuade the intellect, but the gospel is not only true; it is ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’ (Rom. 1:16).

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One Comment to “Horton on Heart and Mind”

  1. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog and this post in particular. I really needed to hear, “It’s certainly true that faith is trust in a person, but we cannot trust a person without knowing who he is and what he has done that is worthy of our confidence. Faith is more than knowing and assenting to facts, but it is not less.” In the fallout of my graduation I have certainly encountered “a creeping senility” and indifference to scripture or doctrine (i.e. the “facts”). I’ve desired a personal, emotional trust in Christ apart from a deeper knowledge of him, which here I’m reminded is unnatural.

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