Ten years ago, I heard Gregg Harris use an illustration that struck me at the time; since then, I’ve reflected on it countless times as a picture of healthy, balanced, intelligent faith. He was addressing the importance of sound doctrine coupled with a vibrant, joyful, passionate praise-life. He pictured one’s belief structure as a fireplace with each brick firmly in it’s place. Radical depravity. Justification by grace alone. Penal substitutionary atonement. Sufficiency of the scriptures. Rigid. Orthodox. Strong. In Harris’ illustration, one’s devotional life — intimacy, warmth, affection, joy, praise — is the fire that occupies the fireplace. Both the fireplace and the fire, he contended, are important. We tend, though, to err in one direction or the other. The effect being either churches with a solid fireplace and no fire or churches with a blazing inferno and no fireplace (i.e. doctrinal structure). Both matter.
His concern (and mine) is that we not err in either direction. In our zeal for doctrinal purity, we mustn’t fail to kindle a warm fire. Neither should we ignite an inferno outside the bounds of a good, sound, theological framework. As creedal people, we value doctrinal precision. We opt for good, robust, strong theological language. We love the confessions and catechisms. But those marvelous, life-giving doctrines, when rightly understood, should prompt us to worship.
So. . .
We study and we pray.
We think and we feel.
We mull over the tough questions and we rejoice in the answers (or lack thereof).
We read Owen and Tozer.
We do the difficult exegetical work to understand a passage and we push back from our desk and close our eyes.
We catechize our children and we show them God’s glory in wildflowers and thunderstorms.
We read the puritans and we smile.
We debate and we worship.
We quibble over context and we whistle.
We plow through weighty, theologically-dense themes and we weep at what we learn.
We use words like “supralapsarian” and “amazing”.
We inform the mind and we sing.
Here’s the point: If our churches could, by grace, enjoy both the security of a solid fireplace and the comfort of a good, healthy fire, maybe the world could come in and warm up.
So, seeing the importance of a strong, orthodox, theologically informed faith that smiles, I’m calling this blog “Informed Passion”. I pray it encourages you to know why you’re joyful!