I ordered Brian Godawa’s book, Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination, on my Kindle last year while overseas. It’s good for a number of reasons, including who the author is. Godawa is a screenwriter, designer, author, and a Christian. He wrote the screenplay for a feature film called To End All Wars. His book starts off with a history of how he approached Christianity, and life, intellectually and rationally. That gives him a lot of credibility as he then shows his journey towards appreciated image and imagination, and discusses it over several chapters.
Among his first thoughts: Every part of man is affected by sin, this includes both imagination and reason. At the same time, while peoples’ rational minds are fallen, the “Bible uses reason and logic all over the place.” He then expounds on the value of reason to know God, since God does talk about himself uses propositional reason. While admitting that he was too focused on reason, he doesn’t then focus too much on imagination. They are both important, and both necessary.
He gives a brief history of modernity and it’s effect on Biblical interpretation. He also gives a number of Biblical examples of figurative language and of the arts. I may highlight some of these in future posts. Here’s some of his thoughts on literalism:
In my fear of becoming “liberal,” and in my overemphasis on the rational, I discovered that I had been interpreting the Bible in a way that is was not intended to be interpreted. Literalism has become a code word for reducing Biblical language to raw physical description or rational timeless truths, rather than allowing the imaginative poetic language of a Jew situated within the ancient Middle East. Yes, there is much in the Bible that is historical realism, much that is literally true, but it is mixed in with so much imagery, hyperbole and symbol that I simply can no longer claim to read the Bible literally. Instead, Iv’e come to read the Book “literarily.”
I highly recommend the book if you have any interest in imagination’s place in the Christian life.