The Theological Importance of Imagination

Thinking through Christianity

Don't tell storiesImagination is essential to Christianity.

Now, I realize most of us have had it drilled into our hearts and minds that imagination equals irresponsibility:

“Don’t tell me stories! I want the truth.”

“Stop daydreaming your life away.”

“Don’t be naive. This is life, not a fairy tale.”

Imagining is for children, so the story goes, and perhaps it is exactly the child-like quality of imagining that makes the practice essential to Christianity. Of course many of you are familiar with when Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]" (Matt 18:3 Amplified).

I submit to you that imagination is vital to the Christian disciplines of being trusting, lowly, loving, and forgiving. In JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech, the writer of the imaginatively (and Christianly) rich Harry Potter series asserts that,

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places…

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Thinking through Christianity: The Theological Importance of Imagination

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