I recently came across this great thought by Jonathan Edwards. I am deeply thankful, and indebted, to how Edwards vigorously refused to separate the intellect from the affections. Too often we separate them, rather than recognizing how the one informs the other. What do accurate ideas about who Jesus is, what he has done and who we are in him have to do with our loving of him and enjoying his goodness? Everything. Our thoughts feed (or starve) our passion for Jesus. Right thoughts, carried by the Spirit, throw gasoline on the fire of our affections, while wrong thoughts douse them. In other words, our theology (understanding of God is, what He is like, what He has done) is the fountainhead and source of our affection for him. Here's how Edwards puts it. (Note: When Edwards speaks of "religion" he is speaking of a living, vital relationship with Jesus, clearly different than how we use this term today.)
"As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection. As on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart; where there is heat without light, there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart; so on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations, with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things. If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of, in the Word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind. If they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things." (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections)
What do you think? How have you seen this dynamic at play in your life?