Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul part 1
A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me some tough questions about the heart, mind and soul. At first, I thought that this would be a simple question.
Of course not.
I came to find that that the biblical definitions of the heart, mind and soul have numerous, sometimes seemingly contradictory, descriptions and theories. I wanted to share a few of these theories and explain what I believe.
I need to start by explaining and defining each of these. Some have multiple definitions based on differing theories and some are fairly simple. I want to take each of these individually to begin with and then put the pieces together to create a theological view. This will take quite a few posts to go through each of the parts, so please be patient (and prepared for some heavy thinking).
In the Old Testament, the main Hebrew words for “heart” are lēb and lēbāb. These words, generally, mean “in the midst of.” If you look at verses such as Psalm 46:2 with “the [midst[ of the sea” or Deuteronomy 4:11 “the [midst] of heaven.” With regard to our bodies, the heart is the central organ to human life. So when we read in Genesis 45:26 that Jacob’s heart fainted or in 1 Samuel 4:13 that Eli’s heart trembled, this was a physical reaction that shook them to the core. Another view is psychological, meaning that the heart is the center of man’s personal life. Much of this comes from the book of Proverbs. The center of wisdom (2:10), trust (3:5), wicked fantasy (6:18), understanding (8:5), sorrow (14:13), knowledge (15:14), and joy (15:30). There are many others as well, but that is simply a sample.
In the New Testament, the Greek word kardia is that which is used for heart. Jesus emphasized having a proper state in our hearts. Matthew 5:8 proclaims that only a pure heart will see God. He also says that sin is first committed in the heart (5:28). Paul also uses kardia in explaining man’s inner life or personality (1 Corinthians 14:25), the center of our emotional state (Romans 9:2), the center of our intellect (Romans 1:21), and the center of our choices (Romans 2:5). Paul also discusses the mind, soul and spirit to complete the entire man, but basically his use of kardia is an expansion on the Old Testament concepts.
The heart is definitely central to man and it goes without saying that both the Old and New Testaments show that Christ is needed to affect the heart of man. This goes back to The Fall. Genesis 6:5 shows that our evil fantasies come from the heart, which is deceitful and sick (Jeremiah 17:1-10). Our hearts can be cleansed of our sins (Psalm 51:10) and renewed (Ezekiel 36:26). God looks into our hearts (Romans 8:27) and illuminates with the light of Christ inside our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Regardless, the heart is central to our fall and our renewal.
(Sorg 1986, 180-184)
Next week, I will begin looking at the mind.