Imagination. Is there such a thing as godly imagination in the life of a believer in Christ?
Is there a place for imagination in the spiritual life of the Christian? Some critics argue that Christian faith stifles human creativity. Does the use of imagination in worship and prayer lead to spiritual transformation or spiritual depravity?
On the one side, the Bible consistently warns that a misplaced imagination will distract the Christian from true worship. For example, everywhere in the classic King James Version, in contrast with more modern translations, the English word imagination from the original Hebrew and Greek phrases always carries a negative meaning (then contrast with ESV). For example:
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward (Jeremiah 7:24 KJV).
Clearly, it is possible to become so engrossed in our own imagination, or someone else’s imagination projected towards us, that we fail to hear God. In our television-saturated world and ultra-realistic CGI animation movies, the massive feast before our eyes can easily clog up our ears to God’s Word. Even in the church, if in our Sunday morning services we find ourselves remembering more about the vivid illustration used by the preacher, and yet still unable to recall what Bible passage was being expounded upon, then I think we have a deadly serious problem.
OK. So far, given this overview, the concept of imagination does not bode well in the life of a Christian. But does this mean that all imagination is contrary to God’s purposes? Is there a more positive, biblical, even godly approach to imagination? Sometimes, in an effort to fight off counterfeit spirituality, we can easily throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Push Rods and Rockers, 2008
I spent a couple of weeks writing this post, adding and removing parts, only to end up with an over-spiritualized, not-very-good penultimate result. After some painful edits, how about I just get right to the point?
The original idea for this blog was to have a place for “Sharing resources that corroborate the Bible.” While we remain quite committed to that theme, we’re finding our voice in a slightly different major chord. Consequently we are changing the tag line for Veracity to “Sharing the Joy of Personal Discipleship.”
What is personal discipleship? It’s an answer to the darkness of man we see all around us every day. It’s keeping our eyes on the only thing that counts—faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6b, NIV84). We define personal discipleship as the process in which a believer or seeker takes personal responsibility for investigating the claims and content of the Bible. Continue reading
Dallas Willard. Pioneer for the renewal of spiritual formation in the contemporary church.
Can you tell the difference between someone who says that they are a Christian, and someone who is not?
The Apostle Paul challenges us:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)
Whoa. I am not sure I like this type of test. Do you meet the test? Or does it only apply to the really “spiritual” people out there?
The existence of many people who are Christian “in name only” is a serious problem in the contemporary church, even among so-called “Bible-believing” congregations. Dallas Willard, who died on May 8, 2013, believed that he had pinpointed the source of the problem.
This coming Sunday, our church will sing a modified version of a Taizë worship song, “Holy Spirit, Come to Us.” Songs from Taizë are generally simple, short choruses based on the Bible. In the original Taizë community, these worshipful, chant-like songs are sung over and over again multiple times. Here is a recording of the original version of “Holy Spirit, Come to Us.”
But what is Taizë? In the spring of 1940, the German army overran the defenses of France, bypassing what was thought to be the impenetrable Maginot Line, shattering the confidence of the French people. Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche, who was raised in a Swiss Protestant Reformed family, was absolutely stunned by the overwhelming power of Nazi Germany’s military might. But he believed that God was much bigger than the Nazi war machine. He rode on a bicycle to the small town of Taizë in unoccupied France near Switzerland, where he spent two years hiding Jewish refugees from the grip of the Nazis. He was forced to leave Taizë for a few years, but “Brother Roger” was able to return in 1944 to start a small community of men committed to living in poverty, chastity, and obedience. From that time forward, “Brother Roger” and his band of like-minded were committed to a quest for reconciliation in the spirit of Christ.
Over the years, along with other refugees, tens of thousands of young people from all over the world have come to visit the community. What is particularly unique about Taizë is the ecumenical nature of the community, Protestants and Catholics, all living together in a monastic style focused around prayer, work and hospitality. But the most profound influence of Taizë is the music.
Various churches around the world offer Taizë services that can give you a taste of how meditative music and silence is practiced in the original Taizë community. In the Richmond, Virginia area, the Richmond Hill Retreat Center at 2209 East Grace Street offers a Taizë prayer service on the first Monday of every month at 7:30pm.
Jonah and the big fish… or small group Bible study leader stumped by a really good question?
So, we had a “mini-crisis” in our small group Bible study recently. We were looking at the question of how Jesus fulfills prophecy in the New Testament. Someone read from Luke 24:45-46:
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead”(ESV)
Then, the question came: “Does anyone have a reference for this prophecy given in the Old Testament?”
Pages started to rattle. Folks were hunting for a cross-reference. Someone looks around the room for a concordance. Others were pulling out their iPhones to ask the “Almighty All-Knowning Google” for the answer. Whew, boy. I was in trouble.
You see, I’m like, uh, the small group leader. Not only that. I got a seminary degree. Yet, I was completely stumped. All that theological mumbo-jumbo and graduate school $$$ and I was busted. I tried to mutter something spiritual and intelligent sounding. It was not really working. Folks were looking at me like, “Nice try, no dice, buddy”. I was thinking that Professor Hagner back in seminary was watching, peering over the top of his glasses down at me. Sweat was pouring down my brow. The room was uncomfortably warm. I was glad I had my day job. Perhaps I could have tried to sneak out the backdoor…. Whoops. That would not have been good…. We were meeting at our house.
OK. I am exaggerating quite a bit. We have a wonderful small group, after all. But it is a great question: Where in the Old Testament do you find the prophecy where Jesus says He will rise again from the dead on the third day? Well, unfortunately, you might be searching a long, long, long time for a specific verse…..