Christians believe that God created the universe then formed it and filled it. Within the newly shaped world, God created a garden in which he placed the first humans. The garden stood on top of a mountain surrounded by jewels and pre-historic beauty.
Within the garden lay two trees, one that bestowed life and one that bestowed the knowledge of good and evil. The first gave life. The second brought death.
After the garden’s formation, animals came to Adam. He named them all. Adam must have named the snake. And later, that same snake or one like it crept into the mountain garden. It spoke to the woman. It deceived and bedevilled her.
Adam and Eve together ate from a forbidden tree. Then God came down in the wind. He clothed them in the skins of a dead animal to symbolize the death sentence incurred upon them for eating of the tree.
Afterwards, God exiled them from the mountainous garden with all its beauty. Cherubim stood guard at the entrance to the mountain of God. Like giant lions or guard dogs, they possessed fiery swords that would terrify and turn back any would-be invaders. Neither the serpent nor humanity could ever enter into the God’s mountain garden again.
To enter into the world of the Bible, the real world, requires Imagination. Most of us live in a plastic world shaped by notions of common sense. Common sense dictates that the universe runs by pure natural law, that unseen realities cannot and do not interact with the material world, and that everything in the body has a material cause.
Lacking Imagination Kills Life
This brutal lack of imagination robs us of life. A lack of imagination similarly drains life just as the serpent siphoned life from Adam and Eve through their exile from the tree of life. But by the second tree on which Life hung, eternal life once again came to the human race. And by our spiritual union with Life, we have re-realitied our imagination—our ability to see what is really there.
God not only created and shaped all but has ordered all things. The celestial bodies indicate time and season. Green plants and animals reproduce in kind. All things follow an order—follow natural law but only because God himself sustains those laws.
Sometimes he does not. Within his comprehensive providence, he acts in ways that we might not expect. He parts the sea. He calms storms. For him, this is natural. For us, it is not. We call it a miracle. He knows it as his unusual operation of his providence.
By Christ’s cross and the gift of the Spirit, the Father has returned our spiritual vision to us. He lets us see things as they truly are. Nothing we do or experience is merely natural as if God did not ordain it. It happens according to the mystery of providence.
That ten-year experience of anxiety which has now turned into a calcified will happened for a reason. It did. God through his unseen representatives spans the universe to accomplish his will. We participate in that ongoing mystery.
No nature walk in which we view the beauty of greenery, the cool of the
Common Sense Commonly Conceals Truth
What we call common sense merely represents contemporary culture’s imposition of meaning upon us. We grow up believing that material, soul-less, providence-less reality is all there is. Common sense is only common because imperious faux-lords of science have decried what is real and attempted to order society according to naturalistic principles.
In our world, imagination—that organ of intellectual sight—falls to children. They have imaginations. We do not. And yet even they have a short time to enjoy reality. Stop daydreaming, we hear. Get back to reality, we hear. But these damning lies slither into our minds at the behest of that imagination poisoner, that ancient serpent.
The reality is that God has spoken. The reality is that all things point to God. The reality is that your life has meaning and purpose. The reality is that all experience falls into God’s plan for you and for your good.
Despite the evil and horror of the world, beyond the lie of purely natural cause and effect, God has mysteriously embedded meaning deep into our experience.
Without our imagination, our origins at creation and our destiny make little sense. Our universe would then have a seemingly bizarre origin and end full of serpents, trees, and angelical beings. But that only seems bizarre because of imagination.
We already live on the mountain temple in the body of Christ. We have come to the unshakeable city whose founder is God. By the tree that Life hung upon, we have re-gained that tree of life. Now, the supper of the Lord nourishes with life when we partake of it. The baptism of the Lord unites us to spiritual realities—we become a spiritual body with Christ and all believers.
We anticipate heaven and experience it now since heaven is abiding with God. And we can enjoy this abiding through our union with Christ by the Spirit.
And all of this comes by way of imagination—not the false thoughts about reality that many on our world cherish. But it comes by the real thoughts about God, serpents, primordial couples, union with Christ by the Spirit, Providence, the resurrection, and our spiritual nourishment.
Imagination is necessary for the Christian faith. Or else we will believe that lies of common sense and not the truth of God’s all-pervasive providence in the universe.
Mark Matthias says
Yes, well put — “Common sense dictates that the universe runs by natural law, that unseen realities cannot and do not interact with the material world, and that everything in the body has a material cause.”
Yes, common sense conceals the truth — without the Spirit how can one envision anything beyond the common sense? Before Paul had his struggle depicted in Romans 7:14-24, he was content in his common sense — then after having seen the light the conflict began; something was dragging him back… He was learning how to break away from what appeared to be obvious; thus no John 3:3 experience, no spiritual leading — John 16:8-9 — common sense is comfortable…no challenges.
“To enter into the world of the Bible, the real world, requires Imagination.” No it doesn’t. It requires belief that things happened. Imagination is a creative tool; it is an idol maker and has no place in Christianity.
All usage of the imagination regarding spiritual things is unbiblical, because quoting scripture and recreating biblical events does not require creative imagination.
A Biblical life leaves no room for “vain speculations” about other worlds or doings of God with other creations, or even the activities of angels who may be in our proximity. Imagination has no place in Christian spirituality.
Imagining a life knowing good and evil brought about sin in the first place. Imagination is God’s domain. Church is not a creative place. No art we make wilk matter when God burns the earth. Christianity is as unmystical as it is unimaginative because the Bible gives all of God’s feedback for us, which is usually none.