“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Eph 4:18
Hardening of our hearts always happens first, then comes the darkening of our minds. Our minds will always have great difficulty accepting or embracing what our hearts have rejected.
“We believe in order to understand.” To believe is a thing of the heart and to understand comes from our minds. We don’t believe something merely because of its rationality or believability; we believe for its plausibility and approvability, which are more of the things of the heart than the mind.
“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing,” wrote Blasé Pascal, a renowned scientist who is considered the “father of fluid dynamics.” He was also a devout theologian who was well aware of the limitations of human reason and the mystery of faith.
In the long process of acquiring worldly knowledge, our hearts seem to become increasingly hardened and they gradually turn into unbreakable and impenetrable stones, unable to be moved or touched by the love of God. In the name of becoming wiser, we actually become more foolish, and the more knowledge we accumulate, the more ignorant we turn out to be.
The Lord captured my heart first, and then he started to transform my mind, which was a much easier job, really, for I was convinced before I became persuaded.
Indeed, in the course of acquiring an education, we might have been misguided and misdirected by the ones whom we loved and respected dearly. Of course, most of them had the best intentions in the world, yet they themselves were victims of half-baked teaching and simply handed down what they believed was wholesome and true. Surely, what enters our minds first always takes precedence over others, (先入為主) and it would take a monumental effort to uproot what has been planted in our soul and mind.
“Batter my heart, three-person’d God,” John Donne cried out in his holy sonnet. For sure our hearts must be broken to become soft and tender in order to embrace God’s love expressed and illustrated in the gospel, which may appear to be rather irrational and unreasonable. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome the human rationality that has kept us captive for such a long time.
Something such as this isn’t anti-rationality; it goes beyond rationality. In fact, the more precious something is, the more mysterious it seems to become. We are bound to fail if we make an attempt to explain what love is, for the moment we think we have grasped its essence, it immediately defies and defeats our explanation. The mysterious aspect of love can never be explained in human terms. We may know it in part, yet will never grasp the meaning in whole.