Book Review: Apologetics and the Christian Imagination by Dr. Holly Ordway
by Zak Schmoll
Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith, written by Dr. Holly Ordway, was published in 2017 by Emmaus Road Publishing. I was given a Kindle review copy of this book in exchange for the writing of this post and providing my honest opinion. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Ordway was my faculty advisor while I was pursuing my MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University.
This book asks a question, “What is the role of the imagination in Christian apologetics?” Of course, unpacking this question requires understanding how these terms are being used. Apologetics is defined in the rather traditional way of a defense of the Christian faith, but Dr. Ordway proposes that rationality in and of itself is not enough to provide a holistic defense of Christianity.
“‘Reason and imagination are twin faculties, both part of human nature— and both given to us by God our Creator!— that, together, allow for a fuller grasp of the truth’ (Kindle Locations 260-262).”
This highlights one of the main strengths of this book right from the beginning. Apologetics can sometimes become simply the realm of memorizing lists of evidences for the resurrection or trying to remember the exact construction of a logical proof defending the existence of a creator. These reasonable approaches are vitally important, but as Dr. Ordway points out, the imagination needs to come into consideration as well.
Before proceeding, it is important to realize how this book defines the word imagination. It is used in the more traditional, medieval sense as opposed to the way it is used in our modern vernacular. Dr. Ordway is very careful to point this out in her text itself and clarify the difference, but just from the title of the book, it might be possible for some readers to misunderstand what this book is actually going to be about. Dr. Ordway cites CS Lewis who wrote that, “Reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition” (Kindle Locations 338-339).
Equipped with this understanding of imagination in the appropriate contextual sense, the reader is then brought through journey that seeks to show apologists how to bring meaning to the world through our apologetic interactions. A list of facts in and of itself might be reasonable, but until the audience understands why those facts are important, they are not really going to care very much about remembering those pieces of information or applying them to their lives. Dr. Ordway writes…
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