When Hearts Are Better than Heads, and Vice Versa.

In my preparations for Tuesday’s talk on Andrew Fuller, I came across this quote. It stirred up ten thoughts about heads being better than hearts and hearts being better than heads. Here is what Fuller said:

I perceived that men's characters were not always formed by their avowed principles; that we may hold a sound faith without its having such hold of us as to form our spirit and conduct; that we may profess an erroneous creed, and yet our spirit and conduct may be formed nearly irrespective of it; in short, that there is a difference between principles and opinions; the one are the actual moving causes which lie at the root of action, the other often float in the mind without being reduced to practice. (The Complete Works of Reverend Andrew Fuller, ed. Joseph Belcher, Vol. 1, p. 16)

Some inferences:

1. Some men’s hearts are better than their heads. Some men’s heads are better than their hearts.

2. There is no good, heaven-bound heart that is rooted in a Christ-denying head.

3. There can be a bad, hell-bound heart in the same body with a head that affirms orthodox doctrine.

4. Hearts that are better than heads are vulnerable hearts and more likely to be corrupted than if the goodness of the heart were rooted in the truth of the head.

5. Hearts that are bad, in spite of truth in the head, have a better chance of being awakened than those that are doubly trapped with untruth in the head as well.

6. Heads and hearts do not ordinarily fail to influence each other; good can purify and evil can corrupt in both directions.

7. When Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth,” God was the sanctifier, truth the agent. Therefore, God the Spirit is indispensable in the truth of the head purifying the affections of the heart.

8. Therefore, aiming at hearts that are better than heads is not a good goal in preaching.

9. And aiming at heads that are better than hearts is not a good goal in preaching.

10. Aiming at love through truth is a worthy goal. The evidence that we are aiming at this is whether we pray that our people would always know the truth in a way that makes us free (John 8:32).

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.