Christianity & the Imagination....

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Christianity & the Imagination....

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nov 28, 2009, 10:40 pm

Einstein once said that:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

Being a Christian this leads me to wonder what the role is of imagination when is comes to the Christian faith? Many Christians appear sceptical and afraid of imagination. There seems to be a strong focus on doctrinal truth, charismatic experience and theology but not a place for the gift of imagination. It seems to me however that the writers of the Bible, (the prophets, apostles, and even Jesus himself) often used poetic imagery, employed metaphor, and told wonderful imaginative and creative stories and parables.

Frankly, much of modern day North American Christendom seems too predicatable, bland, un-imaginative and un-creative. It would be amazing to see a new uprising of creative and imaginative minds that in the past have enriched and blessed the world of Christian faith. One thinks of Dante, Edmond Spenser, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Flannery O'Connor, John Milton, J.S. Bach, John Bunyan, Emily Carr, etc... (all giants in the realm of the imagination). In so many ways we are greatly indebted to these men and women for bringing greater beauty and wonder into our world and our lives, through their imaginations and their personal connection with Christ.

What do others in this forum think about this issue of Christianity and the Imagination??? What is the role of the imagination in Christian belief??? What is the role of the imagination in other systems of belief and religions???

How might a greater praxis and emphasis on imagination enrich and deepen intimacy with God?? How might it add value to prayer?? What are some of the dangers of imagination? Is the imagination a gift or a curse? How can believers learn from children who often teach us the value of imagination???


nov 29, 2009, 2:12 am

There is a danger in believing God by imagination. You have to experience the existence of God in a personal context in your course of your existence on Earth. Do you believe in angels, satan, satanic entities ? You must have experiences by your first-hand knowlege of their existences by seeing them or affecting by them. It has to be real not "imagination" about these things.

nov 29, 2009, 11:13 pm

I think imagination is hugely important in Christian faith. But it does depend on what you mean by imagination. Imagination is not "making things up"; it is making pictures (images) of reality. In this sense God places great emphasis on imagination, imaging. God makes human beings “in his image" (Genesis 1:27). Jesus himself is the image or icon of God. (Colossians 1: 15)
Imagination is next to creation in importance. God creates things by imaging them, and then speaking them into existence. We become co-creators with God, playing with images, imagining, and representing these images in stories, poems, music or painting.
We can understand the Bible, with its many narratives, parables and metaphor, only by using our imagination.

Redigeret: nov 30, 2009, 3:34 am

" Imagination " not in a literal sense , meaning to make things not real to become real. There are three main well-worn arguments for the Existence of God, the Cosmic Architect that many great philosophers of the past and present have put up arguments, and debated since the modern human civilisation began.
Let us ask ourselves, Do God really exists ? Who made God?

Cosmological Argument - This argument goes far back to Aristotle's theory of motion and also supports Thomas Aquinas's theory, known as the argument from contingency and necessity.

It is known that everything in the world moves and changes quoted by Aristotle.Thomas Aquinas simply said it "exists". Everything that moves, or exists, has a mover. A mover is " a cause, something that precedes it and makes it happen. For every cause there is always another cause behind them and the "chain reaction" that follows. Aristotle and other
fellow philosophers or thinkers claimed that to keep
tracing effects back to causes is rather tedious or endless. It has to stop at its origin. There has to be one cause that does not exists to be caused by something's else. I believes that there is one entity that existed before all the others could come into existence. This theory have been widely accepted for
many centuries.

The cosmological argument - it pointed out that there's no reason to assume we cannot have an infinite series of causes. In mathematics, it is possible to construct all sorts of infinite series.
We ask, "Who made God ? "

The Ontological Argument - "Perfection" can be conceived or recognized, if we cannot do so, how come "Imperfection" can be reconized. Without any question, a Perfect Being can be conceived. God is what we called that Being which embodies all imaginable attributes of perfection. Can you imagine any other Being greater than Perfect Being or God we came to know or believe ? Is there anything greater than God ?

The Teleological Argument - Look around us, the world or universe is a strange and wondrous place, comparable to a gigantic machine with millions of precisely manufactured and perfectly interlocking components. Can it be a mere chance or coincidence that our world in the universe and the millions of galaxies or planetary systems just happens to exist without any intervention or help.
There must be a Great Architect or God to figure out and plan the mechanical symmetry of our hugh universe. The universe have survived for zillions years ago or infinite period of time. Can we believe and ponder that our great universe just exists by itself based on theories of chance and probability? It might had happened by an accident after all or merely already exists without any intervention from anything
not even by the Cosmic Architect or God.

Maybe, the free thinkers will not even consider these possibilities to happen, and the God-fearing creatures
will find them mind-boggling task to decipher to be factual . Maybe, Dr. Stephen Hawkins in his books can enlighten us better. Do you have any opinions to express on these issues ?

nov 30, 2009, 7:52 pm

"God created man in his (necessary genderized) own image..."

image- imagination ? A dream perhaps....

Redigeret: dec 1, 2009, 11:14 pm

>3 TedWitham: & 5

Thanks for your insights in reference to humans being created in the image of God.

The question of being created in "God's image" is a very important question, especially in the area of Christian theology.

Traditionally many theologians and philosophers (i.e.,Thomas Aquinas) have defined being created in God's image to mean being able to reason and think logically. The reason being is that humans have been given this ability to think logically and reason whereas animals have not.

Other important thinkers (i.e., Karl Barth) have defined being created in "God's image" to mean, having the ability and capacity for love and relationships. This is because God exists in perfect relationship within Himself. The Trinity exists within a perfect harmony and loving relationship. Before the universe was created, God existed in this relationship of love comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There existed so much love in this relationship that God wanted to spread and extend the love of this relationship by creating us.

Our humanity consists no so much in the fact that we can think, that we can rise above the sense-world by conceptions and ideas, that we are able to comprehend and dominate nature.

What is TRULY human is our being the kind of creatures that God can communicate and talk to us and that we can and must reply. We are able to encounter God (see, I and Thou by Martin Buber).What makes us human is our destiny to enter into communion with God, whose very being is communion.

It is not reason, not creative spirit which is our truly human element. It is love, to which all creativity and thinking are subordinated. Therefore we cannot in ourselves or by ourselves be truly human, but only in communion with God, the God of love, and in itself love means communion with others.

dec 2, 2009, 7:59 pm

It seems that you pretty much answered your own question.
It seems to me that it is more a matter of an inexplicable inner awareness, since words cannot capture the essence of the experience. The experience must be experienced: anything else is someone elses opinion.
(Someone recommended Buber toi me in the mid 70's, I have yet to read him...)

dec 5, 2011, 10:02 am

I will preface this by saying I'm not a Christian in much of any traditional sense, certainly not by the qualifiers used by my fellow Americans. That said, I believe imagination is clearly an important part of Christianity, as shown by three of the greatest Christian thinkers of modern times, Walter Rauschenbush, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien. I firmly believe that, without an active, healthy imagination, these men could not have done the work that made them famous, and the world is better for it.

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