#27 - The Heart and Mind of Man


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The Heart and Mind of Man

Issue #27

February 2001

Circumcision—physical and of the heart—has been the focus of the past two issues of FMS. We now enlarge the focus to look more broadly at the concepts of the heart and mind of man. These are unquestionably central to the whole idea of salvation for it is the heart and mind of man which have been corrupted. As a result, the physical body is subject to disease, degeneration and death. When the heart and mind have been permanently healed and changed to continuously and forever reflect the image of the mind and heart of God, that will indicate that we have been brought into complete salvation. As a result, our bodies also will have been changed into incorruptibility.

Most people associate the mind exclusively with the brain. One of the most noted neurosurgeons and brain scientists of the 20th century was Dr. Wilder Penfield of Montreal. In one famous experiment (in the 1950s, if memory serves correctly), he made an amazing discovery while performing brain surgery on a fully-conscious woman so that she could respond to Dr. Penfield’s questions. He found that when he stimulated certain portions of her brain, that she immediately seemed to relive past experiences. The memories were so vivid that she could describe in absolute detail the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, conversations, feelings, etc. that she experienced decades ago as a child.

Born in 1913, Penfield wrote the following in his 1975 book, The Mystery of the Mind under the heading: “The Search for a Mechanism of the Mind.”

“In the past 50 years we have come to recognize an ever increasing number of semi-separable mechanisms within the human brain. They are sensory andmotor. There are also mechanisms that may be called psychical [derived from the Greek psuche: soul—JWB], such as those of speech and of the memory of the past stream of consciousness, and mechanisms capable of automatic interpretation of present experience. There is in the brain an amazing automatic sensory and motor computer that utilizes the conditioned reflexes, and there is a highest brain mechanism that is most closely related to that activity that men have long referred to as consciousness, or the mind, or the spirit.
Throughout my own scientific career I, like other scientists, have struggled to prove that the brain accounts for the mind. But now, perhaps, the time has come when we may profitably consider the evidence as it stands, and ask the question: Do brain-mechanisms account for the mind?”1

The answer to that question, based on the word of God, is an emphatic “no” as we shall presently witness. The brain has a great deal to do with the phenomenon of the mind, to be sure, but the mind is not the exclusive domain of the brain. Penfield himself realized this during the course of his career and concluded his book acknowledging his and other scientists’ utter inability to fathom the mystery of the mind. He recognized that neuroscience must at some point give way to theology and the realm of spirit. He stated:

“In ordinary conversation, the ‘mind’ and ‘the spirit of man’ are taken to be the same. I was brought up in the Christian family and I have always believed, since I first considered the matter, that there was work for me to do in the world, and that there is a grand design in which all conscious individuals play a role. Whether there is such a thing as communication between man and God and whether energy can come to the mind of a man from an outside source after his death [my emphasis—JWB] is for each individual to decide for himself. Science has no such answers.”2

No, science has no such answers, but that will not keep the ungodly from claiming they do. Nor will it keep godly scientists from continuing to investigate and learn of the mysteries of creation (including the human heart and mind/brain), for which we would encourage them onward, for this is right so long as they “keep God in their knowledge.” (Romans 1:28)

Interestingly, the Bible does not contain the word “brain,” although “head” is mentioned 364 times. But the words “heart” and “mind” appear over a thousand times in the Holy Writ. Sometimes the word “heart” is referring to the physical organ, but more frequently it is used metaphorically. The mind is not physical at all and therefore, by definition, it is in the realm of metaphysics, from the Greek meta = beyond; therefore metaphysical is “beyond the physical,” therefore in the realm of the soul and/or spiritual.

A detour to discourse on “new agers”

Upon seeing that word metaphysics/ metaphysical, some Christians will respond in kneejerk fashion and immediately discard or turn away from any material referring at all to the metaphysical, associating it with some “new age mumbo-jumbo.” This is most unfortunate. It is an irrational, fear-based reaction. If the stereotypical “new ager” is a nonChristian who believes a lot of “woo-woo” or “voodoo” or astrology or Gaia worship or Maya worship or whatever, the Christian should remember his Scriptures, which tell us that idols are no gods. Hence, fear of “metaphysics” and “new age stuff” is an irrational fear, since it is a fear of no gods. Jesus is the truth. Truth does not fear investigation. To refuse to investigate truth in metaphysics is a perfect example of superstition, albeit a “Christian” superstition.

Let us as children of the Most High (and only) God not fear metaphysics, for the Bible is replete with metaphysics, wisdom regarding the realms of soul and spirit. As we seek the wisdom of God regarding the realms of heart and mind, we are studying metaphysics. And we can “take it to the bank” because His Word is all truth. Moreover, can a Christian be a New Ager? I should hope we all are! Not in the sense of the above-mentioned voodoo, Gaia, Maya, whatever-type idol-worshipers there be, but a Christian New Ager is one who recognizes the truth of the gospel on the printed page, as well as the gospel in the stars. The star gospel has been thoroughly expounded by E. W. Bullinger a century ago and more recently by Bible archeologist E. Raymond Capt in his book, The Glory of the Stars. Noted televangelist Dr. D. James Kennedy has even taught this truth on his radio program.

Astrology is a perversion of the truth of the gospel in the stars. The zodiac is a belt of constellations through which the earth precesses in relation to the sun. It takes about 26,000 years to make one circuit. As of February, 2000 the earth is now fully “in the new age,” i.e., we are in the constellation of Aquarius. Since the symbol of Aquarius is a man pouring out a pitcher of water, we believe this signifies that this is the Kingdom Age during which “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2: 14).

The past 2,000 years have been the Age of Pisces (the fish), and of course, from the early Christians until now, the fish has been the symbol of Christianity. (Make a copy of this to hand to a driver with a fish logo sticking on his car bumper or trunk lid. And maybe one of you enterprising readers will be the first to design and market the Aquarian logo as the new symbol of Christianity in the Kingdom Age. See also our audiotape: Jesus, Judas and the Last Supper {#367 & 368} in this regard.)

Basic anatomy and physiology of the heart

The heart is an amazing muscle and more. It is about the size of a fist, but weighs less than a pound. It is connected to approximately 100,000 miles of tubing! What a Creator is our Father! It beats over 100,000 times per day. Blood makes a round-trip through the circulatory system in about 20 seconds! The work it does in one hour is enough to lift 1.5 tons one foot off the ground.

The two halves of the heart are divided vertically by the septum (a muscular wall). Each half is divided into the upper and lower chambers; so there are four chambers altogether. The upper chambers are called the atrium (plural: atria). The bottom chambers are called the left and right ventricles respectively. Ventricle is from the Latin word which means “little belly.”

The halves of the heart are not symmetrical. On the right side of the heart, the blood from the body comes in and is pumped out to the lungs for exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen. On the left side, freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs is pumped to the rest of the body. There is a system of valves to let the blood in and out at the proper times. The cycle just described equals one heartbeat. The walls of the heart are made of a muscle material that contracts and relaxes automatically. There is a special part of the heart muscle called the sino-atrial node which starts each heartbeat, setting the pace, and causing contraction of the heart. Thus the SA node is called the pacemaker of the heart.

This should be the end of unbelief for an atheist for where does the sino-atrial node get the “spark” or impulse to set the pace?!! There is only one answer: the spirit that the Almighty initially set in motion. This is not to be confused with THE Holy Spirit, but simply the human spirit, which itself comes from God. (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It was quite significant then, that God said this about atheists in—

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

Relationship of heart, mind, soul and spirit

What is the connection between the heart and soul and mind and spirit? The word “soul” in the Old Testament Hebrew language is generally from nephesh which appears 723 times. Of those 723 instances, 475 times it is translated soul; 17 times it is translated as heart; and 15 times it is translated as mind. Other times it is translated as lives, persons, creatures, and miscellaneous other words. Already we can see how this inconsistency of translation leads to much confusion for the English language reader. Yet, even despite the inconsistency, certain truths emerge which have eluded the Western mechanistic science approach to the brain/mind, heart/soul/spirit complex. One of these truths is the mind/body connection upon which we shall elaborate further as we proceed.

The soul is the essence of life. It is what defines us as being alive. When God unites spirit (vital breath, a term which implies more beyond the physical gases of “breath”) with a flesh body; a soul, a life, is created. In its fullest and most complete sense the human soul incorporates three functions: the mind, the will and the emotions. That is what makes the human life, the personality... a human soul.

In the Western world, we normally consider the mind as being a function of the brain and no one denies that it is part of it. But that is not the entire picture. The mind is perhaps even more so, a function of the heart and soul.

In the New Testament, the word “soul” comes from the Greek word psuche (pronounced ps-yookay). And from this Greek root word, we derive many English words, such as psychology, psychiatrist, psychedelic, psychopath, psychotropic, etc.—and psychical as used by Penfield in the quote above. In fact, there are two and one-half columns of words in my dictionary that have this Greek word as their base, and they all have something to do with the mind, the will or the emotions.

God has blessed Western man with many, indeed most, of the great advances in civilization, invention and discovery; but this does not mean that we cannot learn anything from the East. In the area of medicine, for instance, our society has followed the path of allopathic (drug-oriented) medical practice. We have a lot to learn in the area of herbal and other natural remedies. In the West, we have traditionally identified the mind with the brain only, although cutting-edge scientists and physicians (and even some theologians) are starting to rethink that premise.

The Orientals had a different viewpoint. In the ancient Orient, the heart was considered the seat of the mind as well as the seat of the emotions. By the way, when we refer to the “ancient Orient,” we do not merely mean China and the Far East, but this also has reference to what we today call the Middle East and Near East; that is, the area of the globe where our Israelite forefathers originated and where they were given the books of wisdom from Yahweh which we collectively call our holy, Christian Bible.

Understanding now that in the Orient, the heart (not the brain) was the seat of the mind, we want to focus on those three aspects of the soul— the mind, the will and the emotions—and demonstrate that they are also stated by the Bible to be functions of the heart of man.

The mind encompasses what we think. It involves our capabilities for reasoning, pondering, meditating, logic, etc. It is the area of the intellect and factual memory. The will encompasses what we desire or what we decide; what we set ourselves to do or not do, what to have or not have. The will speaks of the decision-making function. It is concerned with our purposes and intentions, what we determined to have or what to do. The will is the internal impetus which causes us to act or not act. The emotions encompass what we feel: happiness, sadness, grief, sorrow, joy, pleasure, sympathy, pity, anger, rage, wrath, bitterness, excitement, fear, terror, panic, peace, serenity, etc.

As Penfield noted, “in ordinary conversation, the ‘mind’ and ‘the spirit of man’ are taken to be the same.” This is unfortunate because they are not synonymous. There are some overlapping areas as we will note later in these studies, but it is critical that we recognize that the Bible makes a distinction between the soul and the spirit. The two are very separate parts of man. Along with the body, they comprise man. Man is a tripartite being, consisting of body, soul and spirit. [Cf. 1 Thes. 5:23; Heb. 4:12]. One of these three parts of man, the soul is itself composed of three parts: the mind, the will and the emotions.

The emotions

Let us examine the Scriptures to ascertain how all these functions of the soul are also related to the heart. First, the emotions. No one doubts, especially in our Occidental culture, that the heart is the seat of the emotions. The universal symbol for love is of course the stylized drawing of the heart. The Scriptures confirm the heart-emotions connection.

Psalm 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?

Notice that the soul and heart are used synonymously in that verse in conjunction with the emotion of sorrow.

Psalm 13: 5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

The emotion of joy (rejoicing) is a function of the heart. Proverbs 10:10 speaks of the emotion of bitterness and the heart. Proverbs 10:13 tells of laughter covering up grief and depression of the heart. Consider Proverbs 15:13:

Proverbs 15: 13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Even though we recognize that the soul and spirit are separate and distinct, that does not mean that there is no effect of one upon the other. All three parts of man are intertwined and interdependent. The body without the spirit is dead. The spirit in a body produces a life, a soul. A body experiencing physical pain will affect the soul (mood, mindset, personality). Here’s another emotion of the heart.

Prov. 25: 20 As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre [soda], so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.

Martin Luther said that music is the second most powerful force in universe. Music has a profound effect on the emotions of our soul. David’s playing of the harp was able to bring King Saul out of his depression, his heavy heartedness, for a time. But the proverb here is cautioning us to be careful what kind of music to play for one who is depressed. The implication is that you don’t go to someone with a heavy heart and try to bring them out of it by playing some exuberantly cheerful song. If a person just returned from a funeral, one does not greet them by saying, “Hey, friend, snap out of it!” and then, to make matters worse, turn on a boombox and play for them the song Happy Days Are Here Again. No, no... There is a time for grieving and one needs to be sensitive to the circumstances of others’ emotional states. The emotions are a complex part of the soul of man. We will continue this study next month.


1. p. xiii, The Mystery of the Mind: a Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain by Dr. Wilder Penfield, Princeton University Press, 1975

2. Ibid., p. 115

3. Available from us: #B-129, $11 ppd.

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