The Biblically Sanctified Imagination

In Kevin Vanhoozer’s conclusion to his lecture, “In bright shadow: C. S. Lewis on the Imagination for Theology and Discipleship,” he refers to an illustration that highlights how a biblically sanctified imagination enables us to see truths we would not normally see or understand. (For this illustration Vanhoozer acknowledges his indebtedness to Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999) p. 176.)

Vanhoozer writes,

Two stonemasons were hard at work. When asked what they are doing, the first said: “I am cutting this stone in a perfectly square shape.” The other answered: “I am building a cathedral.” Both answers are correct, but it takes imagination to see that you are building a cathedral, not simply making blocks of granite. Two pastors were hard at work. When asked what they are doing, the first said: “I am planning programs, preparing sermons, and managing conflict.” The other answered: “I am building a temple.” It takes a biblically trained imagination to see one’s congregation as a living temple, with each member a living stone (1 Pet. 2:5) being worked – chiseled, fitted, and polished – in order to be joined together with Christ, the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). It takes the eschatological imagination to look at a sinner and see a saint.

Is the Scripture foundational to your life? Do the truths of Scripture form and shape your life? Do they form and shape your imagination such that what you do, how you do it and for whom you do it are all transformed? This is a life marked by the indwelling Holy Spirit enabling one to live by God’s grace and for God’s glory.

So, are you planning programs, preparing sermons and managing conflict? Or are you building a temple?

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