Book Review – Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action

In Christian circles today, it is not uncommon to find three main groups of people: the Heads, the Hearts and the Hands. Those who are best described as Heads devote their entire time to the academic study of scripture and ascribe that with the utmost importance. They are obsessed with theological precision. The Hearts seek for an emotional high and consider their experience to be the validating factor of truth. “Never mind whether it cannot be found in scripture, as long as I experience it, it must be true,” they say. The last group sees practical action as primary in the Christian faith. To them, the study of scripture and experience of God is not as important as being in action for God. Some call them the pragmatists. For the latter two groups, the immediate application of scripture in deed and the experience of God are key to the Christian faith. What scripture says and whether their interpretation is correct is of less significance. Whereas the first group spends all their time studying a text till their hearts are cold and desensitized because theology just becomes like another subject they did in school. But if worshipping God requires mind, heart, soul and strength then why should such a trichotomy exist?

In this book, Hollinger presents a case for the integration of all three dimensions of the Christian faith : our head, heart and hands. The author divides the topics into about seven main segments beginning with the role of each dimension in the Christian faith followed by how they can be distorted if over emphasised. For instance, with regard to the head, Christians are tasked to not just grow in matters of emotions like love or kindness but to also have a deeper understanding of scripture and how it applies in the world we live in so that we may fulfil our role in engaging with society. For the heart, a complete transformation is required for us to even accept God. The turn to God requires a renewal of both heart and mind. The heart also plays a vital role in the spiritual growth of a Christian. To be able to empathise and love our neighbours is a matter of the heart. Last but certainly not least is our hands. A transformed mind and heart must lead to action. Both of these undergird and guide the Christian into deciding how he or she should act in a way that is pleasing to God.

Throughout the book, Hollinger appeals to scripture, history and experience in trying to establish his case. The use of examples through his pastoral experiences helps paint vivid images of how people have over emphasised one aspect over the other. For those who have always wondered about the relationship between these three dimensions, this is certainly a good book worth reading. It is targeted for the general public even though the author himself is a president of a well-known seminary. As I read the book, it certainly made me reflect on whether I myself have placed too much emphasis on an area. And if so, then as the author contends, unless all three are present and nurturing each other, we are less than the people God created us to be. To be whole Christians, head, heart and hands must join together as joyous consorts.”

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