I propose a fourfold reading of scripture. We are to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength.
1. The heart: Lectio Divina, private meditation and prayer, and above all the readings in the eucharist.
2. The mind: historical study of the text and its original contextual meaning.
3. The soul: the ongoing life of the church, its tradition and teaching office.
4. The strength: the mission of the church, the work of God’s kingdom.N. T. Wright, “The Fourfold Amor Dei and the Word of God“
I came across this proposal in an essay by Michael Gorman, “New Testament Theology and Spiritual Formation,” in Spiritual Formation for the Global Church: A Multi-Denominational, Multi-Ethic Approach, edited by Ryan A. Brandt and John Frederick.
Most Christians approach the study of the Bible with a genuine desire that the Holy Spirit would impart knowledge of how to love God more fully and serve him more faithfully. Openness to God and a desire to gain knowledge of God’s will are a wonderful beginning. Lifting one’s heart to God is an essential first step for spiritual growth. But God calls us to love him with all of our being, heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Gorman argues that the purpose of the New Testament writings is spiritual formation. The gospel stories, Acts, the epistles, and Revelation present a “theology seeking faith,” or “theology seeking spiritual formation in its hearers and readers.”
Seeking God with the heart, deepening faith by applying the mind, asking God to sanctify the soul, and exercising God-given strength to act upon conviction work together to move the believer toward Christian maturity. If you begin with a heart set upon God, wonderful! Go further. Engage the mind, open the soul, and ask for the strength to live a life pleasing to God.