Whole person knowledge

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

By Norm Fields

Recently, a Bible Q-n-A viewer posted a comment regarding the difference between the Pentecostal Church and “the Churches of Christ.” The main difference, according to the viewer, is that the Pentecostals view everything through the lens of emotionalism and the “the Churches of Christ” view everything strictly by reason and logic. That’s not a complement! After reading the comment, it was clear to me that this viewer had, at best, an incomplete view of how we study and apply Scripture. Based on my exchanges with this viewer, I am more inclined to believe that the comment was a purposeful and biased critique of the church. Following is the response I posted to their comment.

“I believe you have incorrectly portrayed the view of ‘the churches of Christ’ in your post. We do not appeal to reason alone to the exclusion of anything else. We use all the human faculties to “rightly divide the word of truth.” We also correctly recognize the place of these faculties. Reason/logic — experience — emotion.

Just as Christ is Head of the church (Eph. 1:22, 23), reason is the head of understanding. While a true — deep — understanding of God’s word includes experiential knowledge, that still must begin with reason and logic (2 Tim. 2:15). To truly know Christ in our lives we must experience Christ in our lives (cf. Matt. 11:29). We do that by living out his word properly understood and applied (1 Jn. 2:3-6).

When we use reason and logic to understand the text and apply (experience) it in our lives it produces the correct emotional response, which again deepens our complete knowledge of Christ (Acts 2:37, 41; 8:39; 16:34; et al). That complete knowledge of Christ involves the complete human faculty — not anything alone.

Jesus said that we love the Lord our God with all of our heart (intellect, including emotion), soul (life), and mind (the psychological faculty of understanding, reasoning, thinking, and deciding— ‘mind.’ – Louw & Nida). The problem we have with denominationalism in general — more clearly expressed in the charismatic/Pentecostal denominations — is the tendency to discredit the clear meaning of the text because they put emotion and/or experience before reason.

There is a proper order to everything, including a full, rich, and deep understanding of any information, especially biblical information. Reason comes first, then the emotional response to knowing the truth and a deepening understanding — appreciation — of the truth by experiencing it in practice (reason, emotion, experience).”