The Renewing of your minds: Imaginative Spirituality

This morning in Sunday School class I was trying to explain the intended relationship between Man and Nature (that was distorted by sin, as pictured in Genesis 3). As I contemplated the event later (thinking of all the really good things I should have said) I realized that much of what I was trying to say was almost more intuitive than it was really information that could be relayed.

This is related to the problem I run into when I try to explain how I moved from a traditional and simple (formulaic?) conservative evangelical theology to a more evangelical sacramental view of things. It was a journey that included more than meditating on biblical texts or concepts such as "covenant oaths" (though it did include alot of that) but also it involved learning to see the whole of creation in a new way, filled with "incarnational" potential somehow and headed toward a fusion with heaven when the heavenly Jerusalem of Rev. 22 descends to a "born-again" Earth. There was something that was as intuitively compelling about sacramental theology as it was intellectually compelling for me. Something mysterious (the Greek term for sacrament, reflected in the Methodist liturgy, is of course "mystery"), and good.

The phase that was on the "tip of my mind" was "Biblical Imagination." I have heard it said that C.S. Lewis' fiction was intended to "evangelize" or "baptize" the imagination. On the other hand, I am convinced that rampant pornography (or just sex obsession in general, even when network television doesn't "show anything") sexualizes the imagination in a perverse way. Constant exposure to advertisement and compulsive trips to the mall also works to hedonize the imagination (for lack of a better word). They change the way we see the world on an intuitive level. What the Church needs to be doing in the process of making disciples (among other things) is to evangelize people's imaginations. Recovering holistic and sacramental worship that helps us learn to wonder and rejoice in God's presence and mystery, (to which we are connected, into which we are ingrafted "in Christ") will be a part (not the whole) of this process, I suspect.

We have so much still to learn about what it means to "enjoy God forever," as the compilers of the Westminster Larger Catechism put it, and what a glorious lesson it will be to revel in the Triune God, the I AM, as we "participate in" his Perichoresis, through Christ and in the Spirit even using the elements, the material, of this world which is being redeemed through the unfailing Word of God, unto a new creation.

I started thinking of this because of a post on the blog "Out of Ur" on just this subject, that was a very timely read for me at any rate. And so I commend it to you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

One area of the church today that I have noticed lacking is our lack of modern day mystics. I believe the mystics were an important part of Christianity and help to "imagine" if you will things that cannot be explained through intuition. Where are today's Julian of Norwich or Thomas Mertons?

10:37 AM, October 18, 2006  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

They are Pentecostals. :)

3:36 PM, October 18, 2006  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

You know, after I thought about it more (I blog to help think about things), I think praying the Psalms (through a Messianic lens like the Early Fathers) will be an important part of learning a new imagination...

5:07 PM, October 18, 2006  

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