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The Heart and Mind of Man, Part 2
In the last issue we began studying the heart and mind of man. These several issues are intended merely as preliminary sketches to provide some basic facts in order to set the stage for some deeper discussions to follow. We left off last time in discussing the emotions as one of the three parts or aspects or functions of the soul. We recall that the soul is related to the mind (Greek: psuche) and that the mind is not limited to the gray matter between our ears, but is — at a minimum — also very much a function of the heart, both the metaphorical heart and (I believe) the physical heart as well. More on this later.
This being merely an outline, we suggest the reader take a concordance and look up more of the many references to the heart and simply notice the myriad times the heart is connected with emotions. Now to conclude this preliminary review of the emotions, let us notice these examples of the very negative feelings of hatred and anger in the heart.
Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
Deuteronomy 19:6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot [angry, full of rage], and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
In the following example, the psalmist recounts Israel’s history and how God caused Pharaoh and the Egyptians to hate the Israelites:
Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
These and the examples in last month’s FMS should suffice. Surely there is no one who doubts that emotions are a function of the heart.
Let us proceed then to consider a second function of the soul-mind-heart complex;1 namely, the will. Recall that we defined the will as a person’s desires, intents and purposes. It includes the faculties of discernment, determination and decision-making. For example, it is the editor’s present desire, purpose, will and intent to demonstrate from the Scriptures that the will is also a matter of the heart. Consider the following evidence:
2 Samuel 3:21 And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth...
Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD [YHWH]; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Exodus 35: 5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,
From the above we see that the heart desires or the heart wills (purposes, intends). This next citation shows that the mind wills.
1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD [YHWH] searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
This verse could imply that the heart and mind are synonymous? But are they? Yes and no. Yes, when we take the word heart to be understood metaphorically as the inner man, the soul. But no if we think of the literal organ of the heart, for the mind is “in” the brain (per orthodox Occidental thinking) and “in” the heart (per the Oriental concept), and yet perhaps the truth is that neither physical organ (brain or heart) encompasses the mind completely. It is this author’s studied opinion that the mind of man is holographic2 and is therefore in every cell of the body!
This begs the questions: can an individual cell think? remember? feel? and will (make decisions)? The answer in each case is yes! First of all, scientists have recently discovered neuronal cells (i.e., “brain” cells, cells used in thinking) in the tissue of the heart! Secondly, evidence of cellular memory is now available from an enormous number of organ transplant recipients. Many of them report new and strange cravings, desires, behaviors and tendencies which turn out to have been traits of the donor of the organ.3
With all seriousness and gravity we then pose the question: are organ transplants then in reality at least partial “soul transplants?” And if so, is that necessarily wrong? Always and in every case? We do not profess to have perfect understanding in this area and would welcome readers’ input. If you take an absolute position, please share with us the basis in God’s law for your position.
We have a very dear friend who donated a kidney to a family member and enabled the family member to live perhaps another twelve or thirteen years. We do not judge the matter. A family member is one thing, but at the other end of the spectrum, scientists are now cloning genetically mutated pig hearts for transplant into people! We have said it before: perhaps the centaurs, satyrs, et al. of Greek mythology were not fantasies after all but were records from the mists of “prehistory” of actual genetic experiments combining man and beast. But we have deviated from our primary purpose in this writing. Man’s will is a function of his mind-heart. To will is to purpose.
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
2 Corinthians 9: 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
NKJ Proverbs 19:21 There are many plans [purposes] in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD's counsel [plan] — that will stand.
(Oh how tempting it is to commence a dissertation on man’s alleged “free” will at this point! But that must be deferred as we establish these more elementary concepts.) The next two examples add the thoughts of the heart.
Job 17:11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
In the context of our study, this last verse does triple-duty: first, it verifies the heart’s connection with our will (“intents”). Secondly, and jumping ahead of ourselves for the moment, it verifies that thinking is also a function of the heart. Thirdly, since the soul and spirit can be separated, divided, partitioned; it demonstrates that they are two distinct parts of man. Though there is often a great deal of overlap, the soul and spirit of man are not synonymous.
Nevertheless, even theologians of great repute will often dispute it. For instance, Louis Berkhof was Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Calvin Seminary. In 1938 he asserted that
The usual view is that man consists of two parts, body and soul. This is in harmony with the self-consciousness of man, and is also borne out by a study of Scripture, which speaks of man as consisting of “body and soul,” [references given] or of “body and spirit” [references given]. Some are of the opinion that the words “soul” and “spirit” denote different elements, and that therefore man consists of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. Cf. 1 Thess. 5:23. It is evident, however, that the two words “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably.4
We agree that there are times when they appear to be used interchangeably, but this is far from proving the case that they are synonymous. We ourselves used the word mind above interchangeably with soul (where we endnoted to explain the new use), but on other occasions, we use the word mind to mean the intellect alone, as distinct from the will and the emotions.
Similarly, the words soul and spirit are sometimes used to speak of the invisible, non-material part of man; but yet they are clearly distinct as shown not only by Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thess. 5:23, but by the fact that Scriptures declare that the spirit is immortal (Ecclesiastes 12:7), while the soul is mortal (Ezekiel 18:4 et al.). It is perhaps partially due to this confusion of terms that has led religious orthodoxy to hold to the unbiblical notion of the immortality of the soul. Add to this the fact that man was created in the image of God and that God is trinity, three-in-one (not three gods). He is Spirit. He took on a flesh body and He refers to his soul (Lev. 26:11). So man also is three-inone; body and soul and spirit, not two-in-one; body and soul/spirit.
The mind function of the soul
We now move to the third function of the soul: the mind. We use mind here in the very specific sense now to mean the intellect, reasoning, remembering, learning and thinking functions; mind as distinguished from the will and the emotions. Once again, whereas Western man has generally limited these capacities to the brain, the Bible teaches that these mind functions are also attributable to the heart. We have already quoted two references immediately above which refer to the thoughts of the heart. Numerous other verses refer in various ways to these aforementioned mind functions of the soul in connection with the heart. Examples: Wisdom is in the heart.
Proverbs 10: 33 Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.
The heart studies.
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
The heart meditates and acquires knowledge.
Psalm 19: 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
NKJ Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, ...
In other words, knowledge and wisdom are stored in the heart. But how can studying, meditating or thinking occur without the capability of memory. Memory is absolutely necessary for all these functions. It is not surprising then that we find memory alluded to in connection with the heart.
Proverbs 4: 4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
But where do thoughts and ideas and inventions come from? Do they originate within ourselves? Take Nikola Tesla’s brilliance, for example. Where did the ideas for his marvelous inventions originate? According to his biographers, he was quick to admit they came from outside himself. Or consider the brilliant mind of King Solomon...and what’s the difference? Whether we speak of Tsela (oops, Tesla5) or of Solomon, or of you or me; does not the wisdom, do not the ideas for inventions or creations of wood or metal, or creations of words in literature — do they not all originate from the same Source?
24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
And if the intellectual faculties of our mindsoul-heart are given us from above, then what of the other two faculties of our soul? Where do they originate? Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. How proud and how vain to think that we originate anything! Everything we are and have is given to us “from above.” Philosopher Guy Murchie reported that (emphasis ours):
J. B. S. Haldane once made the ingenious suggestion that mind might be “a resonance phenomenon.” I suppose he was consciously agreeing with Niels Bohr’s inspired idea that the wave function of matter represents its mental aspect. Or he may have meant that the electromagnetic rhythms of the nerve cells could be produced by tuning in from some unknown source, perhaps in a dimension still unknowable to this phase of existence.”6
We believe that the “unknown source” of all that we are is from the spiritual dimension, ultimately from God. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;....” But this Source is neither unknown nor unknowable. It is true that many say that “God is infinite and thus impossible for finite minds to grasp.” (How many times have you heard that?) But, that is not true on one and possibly two counts. First, God desired that man, the “crown of his creation,” should know him, and that is one reason why God lowered himself into the seed of Abraham. He “stuffed” his infinity into finite flesh and blood in the form of Jesus Christ. We know the infinite God by knowing Jesus Christ.
Secondly, while our brains and hearts and our entire flesh and blood bodies are finite, who is to say that our minds are finite?! The mind is, by definition, non-physical. The thought occurred to me (notice the passive voice; I did not originate the thought), that perhaps the computer world provides an apt analogy.
Many companies now have internal computer networks where one large central computer acts as a “server” to many remote “terminals” which are scattered throughout the company’s market area. The terminals have very limited capacity to do anything as “stand-alone” computers. Their memory is very limited; their internal programs are very few. But as part of the network; when linked to the server, the individual employee at a terminal can access huge amounts of data from the server’s gargantuan memory banks and also access all the program software needed to utilize the information.
Is it possible that in a similar manner our body is a “terminal?” Our internal brain and other organs are very limited in their capacity to process information. Yes, I know we only use 3 or 10 percent of our brain capacity, but in comparison to God’s infinite “memory banks” and his “program software,” our own individual abilities are as nothing. “But with God all things are possible.” The crux of the matter is that unless we are plugged into, hooked up to, linked to our heavenly Father, we are like a disconnected remote terminal with a screen full of “noise,” all “sound and fury signifying nothing.” But when we have his Holy Spirit within us, the connection is made and we can do wondrous things as he directs through his enabling power and grace. After all, our God is the “server.” Did not our God and savior Jesus Christ say that he came to serve?
1. Here we use the term mind in a more general sense as synonymous with soul and which would then incorporate the emotions, will and intellect-reasoning-thinking processes as subsidiaries of the mind-soul.
2. Most of us have seen holograms if not “in person” then at least in movies or TV shows. The “Rommy” character on Gene Roddenberry’s new TV program Andromeda is a holographic “embodiment” of the starship’s AI (artificial intelligence). But as Michael Talbot writes it in The Holographic Universe:
“Three-dimensionality is not the only remarkable aspect of holograms. If a piece of holographic film containing the image of an apple is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the apple.” (p. 16, 1991 edition). The entire image is retained as the film is cut into smaller and smaller pieces. Talbot relates how Stanford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram utilized the holographic model as “a way of understanding how memories could be distributed rather than localized in the brain.” (p. 17) In other words, to carry it a step further, the holographic analogy explains how memories could be contained in all cells, not just in the brain.
3. Further discussion of this would take us far beyond the outline scope intended in this monograph. We will take this up later. For now, though, those interested can pursue this vein in any number of recent books available including The Heart’s Code by Paul Pearsall and The HeartMath Solution by Doc Childre.
4. p. 67, Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof, Eerdsmans Publishing Co., 1986 reprint of 1938 edition.
5. Those who have heard our teachings on the Holy of Holies will recognize the play-on-words here.
6. p. 273, The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science and Philosophy by Guy Murchie, 1981 edition.