Logic vs. Emotion: The Theology of Kirk and Spock

Wade —  June 7, 2013 —  Comments

Sherlock - Series 2

Over the years, my wife has tried really hard to make me cool. Clothes. Hair styles. Gift cards to the Gap. It’s not that she doesn’t think I’m cool now, it’s just that I can be lazy when it comes to the latest fashion trends. After all is said and done though, I am and always will be a nerd. I don’t even care anymore. I’m married and have a child on the way, all that’s left to do now is build a replica of the Millennium Falcon in my garage.

Nerd heaven descended on the Bearden household recently with the release of Star Trek Into Darkness. I loved the film. So much so that I wrote a review on it here. That’s right, I just plugged my blog with a blog. At least I’m kind of cool.

My favorite part of every Star Trek film is the intricate relationship between Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock. Kirk is a man driven by gut-feelings and emotions. Spock on the other hand, plays by the rules as any good Vulcan does.When I started to think about their personalities, I realized that Kirk and Spock represent two kinds of Christians.

Christian Kirk

Star Trek Into Darkness does a beautiful job of developing Kirk’s character throughout the film. The captain’s decision making skills are clearly a product of his own instincts. Kirk trusts his gut above all else, even when that very same gut defies logic. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re gut defies logic Wade.” Why yes, my six-pack does.

Kirk lives according to his feelings. His heart often trumps his mind.

We’ve all met Christians like Kirk. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These followers of Jesus are the first to run and help when tragedy hits. They are compassionate when others are hurting and are in tune with the needs of those around them.

There is a dark side though.

For Christians who live like Kirk, their faith is often based on what they feel. This can get tricky when what they feel isn’t an accurate representation of Christianity. Why? Feelings can cause us to trust or believe something that we haven’t fully investigated. Feelings can also cause us to be judgmental when something makes us uncomfortable.

Christian Kirk says that he has all of the answers he needs. For him, faith is blind. Faith isn’t logical, nor does it have to apply to the rules of logic. Sure, he is passionate, but he can also be clueless. Christian Kirks are prime territory for false teaching to take root.

Growing up, I had doubts about God. Did he exist? Is the Bible an accurate portrayal of his character? When I tried to share these doubts with leaders in the church, I was often told to simply “feel” my way to God. “You have to have faith Wade.” A hyped-up church service was the answer to the lingering doubts within my soul. These responses didn’t cut it for me. I needed more help than what Christian Kirk could give.

Sensible Spock

If Kirk is from planet earth, then Spock’s home is truly on the other side of the galaxy. Spock is a Vulcan and Vulcans are taught to repress all emotion. Decision-making, grief, and relationships are all handled in a purely analytical way. Sure, he might not possess the imagination or even compassion that Kirk does, but when it comes to the rules and procedures, he’s got it memorized to the dot and dash.

All of you who find some resemblance in Christian Kirk, are probably shaking your head up and down right now. You’ve met a Sensible Spock. You go to Bible study with them. You live with them. They’re standing right behind you about to whisper in your ear. Okay, maybe not the last part, but you know what I mean.

Christians more prone to intellectualism find their stoic joy in learning theology and reciting the Apostles’ Creed. They are the ones who protect us against bad theology. They push our understanding to new levels of exploration and help those with doubts understand the rationality of the faith.

If you’re like Spock, good for you. But, like my basketball coach told me in high school, you could probably use a little more heart.

It’s easy for these believers to approach issues from a purely academic standpoint. They can look at the problem instead of the person. As a result, they can come across as uncaring and indifferent. They might even expect others who have experienced recent tragedy or pain to brush it off like Spock would. “We know God’s on the throne, so just trust him already.”

Sensible Spocks can also become stubborn when someone doesn’t share their point of view. They are sometimes critical and cynical. They are the only ones doing it right, but no one will listen.

Sherlock - Series 2

A Balance

Jesus says this about emotion and intellect,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind… (Luke 10:27)

The type of love that Jesus presents in this verse is an attitude of affection not defined by one quality over another. It is a holistic love that includes both logic and emotion. While we might be prone to either be a Kirk or Spock, it’s important to find a proper balance.

This doesn’t mean we have to change who we are. It does mean, however, that we need to stretch ourselves to love God with every area of our lives. If you are a person who’s driven more by emotion than logic, look to develop your spiritual intellectual life. Read a theology book. Critically evaluate what you’ve been taught about the Bible. Everyone lives by a specific theology, don’t endorse a bad one just because you’re not a bookworm. My doubts about God actually turned out to be a good thing, because they pushed me to explore Christianity in a whole new way. Explore your doubts by discovering why you believe what you believe.

If your personality leans more toward the analytical side of things, push yourself to develop more compassion in your life. Don’t always try to answer everyone’s questions with an academically astute response. Just listen and then encourage. And finally, guard yourself against being overly critical.

The reason Kirk and Spock have so much success is because they have each other to expand their own personalities and account for any specific weaknesses. Find someone different from you and tell them to push you with the understanding that you’ll push them right back. Both logic and emotion are essential components of Christianity. No one is more important than the other. Instead, a proper balance must be found in the life of every believer.

Maybe that’s why my wife is so great for me. She helps me be cool. I return the favor by helping her be a nerd.

Are you more like Kirk or Spock? I personally lean toward the analytical side of life. How do you create balance in your life?

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