Turning up the lamp – when head and heart collide

My first contribution in this short series suggested that we, as the church of Jesus Christ, are in an ongoing cycle of retuning; a self-correction, sometimes almost subconscious, that reverses excesses and unhealthy trends. Further, I hinted at a kind of misgiving in posting a series of this kind, given the nature of Innerwoven as primarily a place for reflection and growth in Christian spirituality, not a clearing house for theological hot-topic-du-jour.

This is how I’ve come to terms with this: sometimes we must rouse ourselves from the beautiful silence and push out into the dark once more with light gained from those quiet spaces most abuzz in the presence of God. For me right now, this is that.

If we are willing to be completely honest, it is common, especially in all things theological/existential, to suffer a certain degree of cognitive dissonance; a rift so to speak between what we think we know, what we actually know, and what we want to know. Our heads and our hearts, like pieces of a broken mirror, struggle to find their place such that a pretty picture may emerge.

For example, if one can say with clear conscience, (or for that matter, a straight face) that one understands the incarnation, the trinity, or the hypostatic union, then there exists more self-induced deception than any real desire for broader understanding through a willing “unknowing” – a fancy way of saying, humility. Such a one is not even ready for this discussion. They have far too many ‘answers’ when in fact a truer posture before such numinous matters should produce more ‘questions,’ questions that often remain ‘answer-less.’

The LGBTQ issue as it relates to Christian formation, a faithfully biblical exegesis, and equally faithful local church ministry (specifically in the Evangelical Covenant Church, the denomination I share with my guest contributor) is one of those cognitive dissonance issues for me. Years of teaching and background in one direction have collided with more years of rethinking, spiritual formation, and reconsidering this issue, coupled with my actual experiences with beloved LGBTQ sisters and brothers, have left me torn and looking for fresh thinking and a way forward.

Dr. Clifton-Soderstrom is helping me in this regard. I believe she can help you as well. As she encourages, “When we are in over our hearts and over our heads, the habit of befriending and the exercise of freedom around God’s word can only take us where the Spirit leads — toward renewal.” If you trust her as I do, go here.


Dr. Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom is Professor of Theology & Ethics at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois where she has served since 2002. 


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