Repentance and Faith:Intellect or Emotion?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Tom Butler, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In Acts 8, Philip tells the eunuch that he will baptize him if he believes with all his heart.

    In Romans 10:9 Paul says confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead and you'll be saved.

    In 10:10 Paul says that with the heart a man believes unto righteousness.

    The heart is symbolic of the seat of our emotions. We don't believe with our literal hearts of course. (The Old Testament equivalent is our kidneys, but how glamorous is that--with our kidneys a man believes unto righteousness.)

    The use of the heart metaphor suggests that such belief is in some way connected to our emotions. I can identify with that. When the Lord saved me, I got very emotional.

    But-----

    Can such belief (and repentance as well) have an intellectual component? It's not the same thing, but Paul told the Roman believers to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. That's an intellectual act.

    Even though repentance and faith have the emotional element, before one can believe, there has to be an intellectual acceptance as truth certain propositions. Such as Jesus as God, his crucifixion and resurrection, God's acceptance of his sacrifice as satisfactory.

    The fact that the disciples and 500 other folks saw Jesus alive is quite a lot of evidence which we can mentally accept as true.

    So, the question for discussion is this: Is there a proper balance between the intellect and emotions in repentance and saving faith?

    In our current evangelical climate, do any of you see an imbalance (such as more emotion than intellect)?

    I buy the emotion. I just wonder if the intellectual exercise gets short shrift sometimes.
     
  2. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    By the way, the fact that we're discussing this is an exercise of our intellect.

    So is nearly every other discussion--except those that get emotional now and then.
     
  3. Winman

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    Lot's of folks think faith is some sort of a magical, mystical thing. And because they don't get some feeling they wonder and doubt if they have faith. This is not faith, faith, or believeing is something you can know for a fact.

    If I asked you right now to name someone you trust, could you do it? Of course, you might say your spouse or your parents. Do you know this by feeling? No, you know it by knowledge.

    Do we tend to trust total strangers? No. Why? Because we do not know him.

    The best way to trust Jesus is to get to know him through the scriptures. When we learn how good he is, how loving and merciful, how truthful and honest he is, then we can easily believe and trust him.

    Look at the examples in scripture. When people were asked if they believed on Jesus, they knew for a certainty.
     
    #3 Winman, Dec 30, 2010
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  4. Tom Butler

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    Thanks, Winman, that's a good perspective.

    If I can add to your comments, in Romans 10 Paul asks, how can we believe on someone of whom we have not heard. So, without some knowledge, some exercise of the intellect in absorbing, processing and evaluating information, belief is impossible.

    Now, to be sure, somethings we do take on faith. We take it on faith that Jesus will save us if we trust him for our salvation. But we can trust him because he has proved himself worthy of our trust. His calming of the seas, his raising of the dead, his own resurrection are evidence that he is truly capable of keeping his promises. Therefore, our faith is not blind; it is based on reliable evidence.

    As you said, we have no trouble trusting someone we know.
     
  5. zrs6v4

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    I hold that it is impossible to believe in someone/something we do not know. This doesn't mean we have to know the someone or something perfectly. John's Gospel shows progressive belief. Look at the end of chapter 4 at the account of the healing of the nobleman's son. He believed twice, saved once, why? This is because he was convinced by Jesus sign (John 20:30-31) that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and thus he and his family trusted Jesus.

    With that said, faith includes mind, will, and emotion. I have heard people say that they believed and were saved apart from their knowledge of Christ. Later in their lives they realized who Jesus was and turned to Him. On the authority of Scripture I would disagree with their testimony. When we trust Christ, we must know about Him, then we must agree with the facts, then the most important part is that through God's work within our hearts we connect what we know to reality and trust in Him. This is the only logical response one can have- Complete trust and conversion.

    Something I have pondered is that throughout our Christian lives we make decisions to go against our flesh. We choose to deny ourselves and follow Jesus daily. How does that differ from our conversion experience? I find that my conversion experience was a somewhat natural repentance in my heart because of what God had done. Yet, later in my walk I find that natural repentance isn't so natural but painful, self-denying, and a tough thing to do. What are your thoughts?
     
    #5 zrs6v4, Dec 31, 2010
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  6. zrs6v4

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    I like the way you put this.:thumbs:
     
  7. Winman

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    Thank you. And I would add a little more. To believe on Jesus means to place yourself in his hands and depend on him to save you.

    An analogy. You are in a burning building. Firemen below call for you to jump and promise to catch you.

    If you have no confidence in them you will not dare jump.

    But let's say you do have confidence in them, will that alone save you? No, you have to actually jump and commit yourself to them.

    Believeing on Jesus means to come to him in your heart and cast youself upon him, depending on him alone to save you.

    It is just like letting go and jumping out that window, trusting the firemen below to catch you.

    And you can know without a doubt if you've done that, can't you?
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    Paul probably nailed this when he complained in Romans that there was a war going on inside him. That which he should do he didn't, and that which he shouldn't do, he did.

    My view is that operating within our sinful nature, we naturally do things which are displeasing to God. Even after we are saved, that old nature wars with our new nature. That could explain why repentance is so hard, even for believers.
     
  9. BobinKy

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    I am not a pastor or church leader, but a retired businessman sitting in the pew. Here are my quick thoughts on faith.

    I have always been interested in faith or belief. In the past I have done several word studies and researched the faith process through the modern lens of psychology. At this point I have two observations to share.

    Observation 1
    Instead of splitting faith into heart (emotion) and mind (intellect), I prefer to choose the dichotomy found in the version of the Shema (Jewish profession of faith) that Jesus spoke in the gospel of Mark (the first commandment).

    • Heart
    • Soul
    • Mind
    • Strength

    Here are four versions of the Shema preserved in Scripture.

    Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
    And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deut. 6:4-5; KJB).

    Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matt. 22:37; KJB).

    And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30; KJB).

    And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. (Luke 10:27; KJB).​


    And here is a related verse that appears to split faith into the two components of heart and soul.

    But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (Deut 4:29; KJB).​



    Observation 2
    Ultimately, in my opinion, faith is a decision. Now decisions often imply the mental process of the mind. However, when we look at how people make decisions in every day life, we often find they do so with other than the mind.

    An axiom of business advertising is people usually make purchase decisions with their hearts (influenced by the five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing); people rarely make purchase decisions with their minds. Therefore, many advertisements--messages geared to influence decisions--pull at the heartstrings more than the workings of the mind.

    ...Bob
     
  10. Winman

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    Excellent observations Bob, and I believe you are correct. You see these fellows who marry multiple women and take their money. These fellows gain trust by appealing to the emotions. Oftentimes other family members who are not under the con artist's spell warn the women, but because they think they are in true love will not listen.

    So, you are correct, there is an emotional aspect to faith.
     
  11. InTheLight

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    The literal translation of 'repent' is 'a change of mind', so I would say there is a definite intellectual component to it.

    I believe repentance was meant to be the main message to the Jew (the need to repent is almost always directed at Jewish audiences.) The Jews needed to "change their minds" about who the Messiah was. Gentiles didn't need to change their minds about the Jewish Messiah since they didn't believe in one to begin with. Gentiles were urged to 'believe'. (And yes, I am aware of Acts 11:18 and Acts 26:20.)

    Indeed. This is quickly realized if you compare the conversion experience of today with those in the first century. First century people had to intellectually accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a fact. This was the main message in Peter's and Paul's sermons in Acts. Nowadays, most people don't have to think much about it intellectually. Rather they have to emotionally consider that they are a hell-bound sinner in need of a savior.

    This is fascinating subject matter to me. I don't have time to go into it in more depth right now, hopefully later tonight or tomorrow.
     
  12. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    This is good stuff, guys. Keep it coming.
     

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