We’ve all heard it before: “All that pastor likes to do is study theology; he doesn’t know how to apply what he’s studied to the church.” We’ve also heard the opposite: “That pastor needs more theology; he’s too practical, not even feeding his flock substantial theological meat!”
While the former pastor is stuck in the clouds of the hypostatic ontology of the Son at the expense of real-life issues in the life of his flock, the other pastor neglects to strengthen the roots of pastoral ministry and daily living: proper understanding of God and all things in relation to God. These two pastors seem to be at odds with one another, but it’s helpful to note that these two men have the same problem: they’ve created a false dichotomy. They’ve separated that which God has joined together: the intellect and the heart.
We have been seeing this dichotomy grow especially since the rise of 18th and 19th century critical studies, and as a result there are now many professors and students of theology who have no real care for God or his people. Not so at Bethlehem College & Seminary. The faculty, staff, and students, along with its donors and Bethlehem Baptist Church, follow the footsteps of B. B. Warfield who wrote: “You are students of theology; and, just because you are students of theology, it is understood that you are religious men.” Likewise, one of the greatest 20th century theologians Karl Barth, who was theologically raised in liberal critical studies, saw straight through liberalism’s dichotomy that separated theology and human life. When a student asked Barth to summarize his theological journey, he purportedly responded by quoting a song his mother used to sing to him: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” a sentiment of child-like faith in Christ.
And so, precisely because we study theology, church history, and languages at Bethlehem College & Seminary, we therefore are religious—that is, we are Christians. Our theological studies fuel our devotion to God, his people, and personal holiness, while our devotion to God, his people, and personal holiness give satisfying purpose to our theological studies.
To separate that which God joined together—the intellect and the heart—is to not only create a false dichotomy, but to commit a grave sin. Along these lines, the prophet Isaiah wrote:
“And the Lord said: ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” (Isaiah 29:13–14)
At Bethlehem College & Seminary, you will not find those who treat Scripture merely as an object to be critically examined; rather, you will find explicitly religious professors and students who employ critical tools of reading and exegesis, fueled by rich theology that spills over into a religious life of holiness and devotion to God and his people.
As such, the often separated dichotomy of heart and intellect is a happy hypostatic union at Bethlehem College & Seminary, which follows the Apostle Paul who believed that a robust knowledge of God (ἐπίγνωσιν κατ᾿ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν; epignōskin kat’ eikona tou ktisantos auton) actually transformed one’s Christ-redeemed practical living (Colossians 3:10).
And as we seek to keep our hearts and heads united, may the Lord transform us all!
Colton Moore, 4th Year Seminary Student
- Pray for our students on break, as they seek refreshment with family and friends.
- Pray that our faculty and staff would never create the false dichotomy of heart and intellect.
- As such, pray that the classrooms at Bethlehem College & Seminary would be hot crucibles of devotion for God.