Theology is defined as rational inquiry into religious questions and more specifically as the study of God and His relation to our world. Most of us normally think of God alongside themes such as faith, sin, redemption, Heaven, Hell, life, death, etc. Rarely do we connect God with creativity and imagination.
But God is not just a God Who only cares about theological virtues, ecclesiastical performances, and scriptural doctrines. God is also concerned about the state of our minds and where our creative imagination ranks on the artistic scale.
Everyone is encouraged to practice good values, to work hard and be determined, to be obedient and respectful and responsible, to have faith, and not be afraid to express who they are. All of these things are important, but many of them begin to lose meaning without the essential value of imagination.
If we cannot envision our future dream job, what is the purpose of working hard to get there and continuing to work hard once we are there?
How can we be kind to those less fortunate if we cannot imagine how they feel to suffer and be ignored?
We are not what we should be, but we will never be what we ought to be if we cannot mentally see our future selves as better than our past and present selves.
And it is practically impossible to have faith without having imagination because faith is built on the unseen, on the invisible. Matthew 28:20 tells us that Christ is with us always. Deuteronomy 31:6 lets us know that God will not leave or forsake us. David reminds us in Psalm 139:7-10 that God’s Spirit is everywhere. We believe these things about God from His Word despite the fact that we cannot physically see Him.
Seeing God in our imagination does not make Him imaginary.
The things we cannot see are realer than the things we can see.
Having a theology of imagination gives us the faith to believe in the things that are even though it seems they are not. Having a theology of imagination helps us view the past with hopes of building a better future.
The key reason we should develop a theology of imagination is because God has one. Before He was Creator, He was Imaginator. God imagined the sun, the moon, and the stars before He spoke them into existence. God envisioned Adam before He formed him from the dust of the earth in His image. At the beginning of time, God looked far into the distant future and imagined you and I. He thought us up before we were made. Now here we are.
Nearly everything around us today used to be dreams and intangible ideas inside of dreams.
Imagination matters to God. It should also matter to us because it helps us envision God, gives our faith sight, and mobilizes the Spirit to strengthen us.
Photo credit: dierk schaefer