Orthodox Head, Pharisee Heart

Select Letters of John Newton I realize I just mentioned these words by John Newton a month ago (here) but they’ve been rattling around in my heart and mind since then.  So I wanted to put them out there again in case anyone missed them the first time.  I’ve edited the format just a bit for the sake of reading:

“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines,
as well as works.
And a man may have the heart of a Pharisee,
while his head is stored
with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature
and the riches of free grace.”

For those of us who study Christian doctrine and are concerned about right doctrine, we always have to beg the Lord to let those doctrines saturate our hearts, giving us faith, repentance, love, humility, patience, and obedience.  Like Francis Turretin (d. 1687) said near the beginning of his Institutes,

“We consider theology to be neither simply theoretical nor simply practical, but partly theoretical, partly practical, as that which at the same time connects the theory of the true with the practice of the good…”

“…Yet [theology] is more practical than theoretical.”

shane lems

4 thoughts on “Orthodox Head, Pharisee Heart”

  1. That is good wisdom. Wm Ames defined theology as the art and science of living unto God. In Quest for Godliness, Packer warned us that theological study will either make us proud or humble. 1 Tim 4:16


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