Art, Creativity and Truth in the Bible
By Brian Godawa
In his refreshing and challenging book, Godawa helps you break free from the spiritual suffocation of heady faith. Without negating the importance of reason and doctrine, Godawa challenges you to move from understanding the Bible “literally” to “literarily” by exploring the poetry, parables and metaphors found in God’s Word. Weaving historical insight, pop culture and personal narrative throughout, Godawa reveals the importance God places on imagination and creativity in the Scriptures, and provides a biblical foundation for Christians to pursue image, beauty, wonder and mystery in their faith.
For any Christian who wants to learn how to communicate and defend the Gospel in a postmodern context, this book will help you find a path between the two extremes of intellectualized faith and anti-intellectual faith by recovering a biblical balance between intellect and imagination.
1 Confessions of a Modern
Brian tells his personal story of transformation from an intellectual oriented modernist faith that stressed reason, science, propositions and logic to a more biblical orientation that includes the imagination, emotion, poetry and art along with rationality.
2 Literal Versus Literary
Brian explains the history of modernity and how it diverted his spirituality off track by creating an excessive literalism that misreads the Bible by missing the literary techniques of metaphor, hyperbole and poetry. The collapsing universe imagery in Bible prophecy is a strong example of the dangers of hyper-literalism.
3 Word Versus Image
A chronicle of some of the multiple examples in Scripture of where God uses imagination and poetic images in worship as well as descriptions of truth and himself. The Tabernacle, the Temple, Signs and Wonders, Prophetic dreams and visions, Images of God, Drama, Theater, Parable, Metaphor, Sacraments, as well as the dominant means of communication in the Bible, STORY.
How did we get to the place where Evangelicalism is suspicious of imagination and images? It all started with the Reformation, a mixture of good and bad in relation to the imagination. On the one hand, the Reformers freed art from its bondage to idolatrous sacred ritual (immanence), but on the other hand, they instituted a suspicion of image that has stayed with us until today.
The power of story lies in its ability to incarnate truth within its narrative. Whereas rational discourse uses abstract means, narrative embodies those abstractions in concrete stories of people experiencing events. Story incarnates truth that touches our humanity in ways that reason simply cannot. You will learn the basic elements of storytelling and how to understand worldview within story.
One of the most powerful means of persuasion through storytelling is the act of subversion, overthrowing a narrative by retelling it with new definitions through the worldview of the storyteller. But this is not an immoral activity. God himself does it in the Bible. See how.
7 Cultural Captivity
More Biblical examples of how the writers subvert the cultural narratives and how you too can do this to great effect in your own life. But also learn how secular and unbelieving storytellers subvert the Christian faith.
8 What Art Would Jesus Do?
A survey of the kinds of artistic and creative techniques used in the Bible that are otherwise considered dangerous by some evangelicals. Rules of Beauty, Realism vs. Non-realism, Harmony vs. Disharmony, Linearity vs. Non-linearity, the R-Rated Bible, and Sarcasm.
Afterword: In Good Company
Learn about how celebrated famous author C.S. Lewis also journeyed from a rationalistic faith into an embrace of imagination in his faith.
Appendix: Answering Objections
Godawa answers objections to his proposal of equal ultimacy between reason and imagination in one’s faith. Are words superior to images? Are propositional statements more clear and distinct ideas than images? Are images more emotional and more manipulative? Is truth distorted more through logic and reason than through imagination and visuals? Are images less civilized than words? Which promotes demagoguery more, books or pictures?