Three-Step Process

I have found Jim Binney’s teaching in The Ministry of Marriage to be quite refreshing. It is obvious that he has personally benefited from the biblical principles about which he writes. He seems to bubble over with confidence and excitement about what God can do in the life of any believer. Consider the following selection from pages 26-27.

Notice the order of Romans 6:17. First “doctrine” was taught, then it went to the “heart,” and the result was obedience. To review, “doctrine” refers to biblical teaching to the mind, or intellect; “heart” refers to the feelings and/or convictions; and “obeyed” is the volition or will of man. Therefore, the path of change is first, intellectual, second, emotional and convictional, and third, volitional. The chart below illustrates this three-step process.

Doctrine -> Heart -> Obeyed
Intellectual -> Emotional/Convictional -> Volitional
Head -> Heart -> Hand
Learn It -> Love It -> Live It

To omit a step in this order of things or to begin out of order is to invite delusion and possible disaster. And yet these are the very mistakes made by some. Many wary Baptists, fearing the association with the emotional “excesses” of the Charismatic movement, studiously avoid any feelings in their worship. As a result, they often push their adherents from the “doctrine” step to the “obeyed” step without allowing for the emotions to engage or the convictions to grow, which results in copycat convictions, shallow beliefs, incomplete change, and a performance-type Christianity that produces conformity but little joy.

Many Charismatics, on the other hand, often skip the “doctrine” step, pointing the seeker to the “heart,” or emotional step, and then on the basis of the feelings demand that he serve God. Because he has missed the step of doctrine, he finds any clarification of his feelings by biblical truth superfluous and even confusing.

Both groups complain of “shooting star,” flash-in-the-pan converts, whose decisions on Sunday rarely survive until Monday. Neither has followed the complete plan of Romans 6:17; therefore, the change is incomplete, and the obedience is short-lived.

That’s a good critique of a common mentality within some fundamental churches. Trying to avoid emotionalism has led some to become unemotional and sadly, to miss out on the joy of their salvation.

If you find yourself in that condition, what is the answer? Binney offers the following answer on page 28.

The solution is to begin where God begins—with doctrine. Strangely, in all my years of counseling, I have never encountered a counselee, married or otherwise, who wanted to begin there. Most people want to begin at the heart stage. They say, “Help me feel better.” Others want to focus on the will. They say, “Help me to act different.” But I don’t recall anyone coming to me and saying, “Help me to think rightly.”

That’s really good. Thanks for the reminder, Dr. Binney.

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