Category Archives: Theology

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When it comes to truth, creativity can be disastrous.

My son, for example, used to think that he could leap off a balcony and fly. He really believed he was a superhero, so thankfully, we had a chance to correct him before he tried! Although it was a creative idea, without a doubt, my son had no say when it came to the truth of gravity.

Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not “wiki” or open source, where everyone has an input; nor is it democratic, where the majority rules. Some truths remain the same, no matter what, such as 2+2=4. And our opinions, no matter how brilliant, do not change everlasting truth.

For that reason, when it comes to creativity & theology, it is not our place to create our own truth about God. That is not our responsibility, nor do we have the ability to do so. God remains the same, no matter what we think about Him.

Therefore, creativity & theology do not construct, but uncover truth — as an artist chisels away stone to reveal something previously unseen. For the Christian artist, the content of truth remains constant, but the presentation of that truth that may change. In the case of the sculptor, the rock has always been there, but the shaping of the rock expresses truth in a different way (e.g., visual representation rather than philosophical argument).

As David Fitch and others are pointing out, truth can be communicated in many different ways. Many of us are caught in a modernist mindset and are hesitant to consider other expressions of truth. However, although we are comfortable with scientific facts and logical propositions, we need not limit ourselves to those. We can be creative and discover God in more ways than through our intellect.

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Theology is different from other “ologies” in the sense that if we only engage our subject intellectually, we miss the mark. We may understand hundreds of propositions about God, but if our imaginations are not involved in the process, I would say that we have failed. (By imagination I mean “envisioning what we do not rationally know.”)

Over at Signs of Emergence, Nick Hughes was quoted as saying, “I wish that someone, some group, something, somewhere would develop a theological project that captured the imagination. All the good ideas are elsewhere.” He is a graphic designer, not a theologian, but he expresses why many feel disenchanted and disconnected from theology.

Think about it: Shouldn’t studying theology make us more imaginative? If we truly and intently focus on God and His beauty, we will be inspired to overcome our ignorance. We will want to explore what we do not rationally know.

Songwriters can testify to this. When you write a song about a person, you intently focus on that person and you are inspired. The same goes for a glorious sunset. All you need to do is look intently, and the words and melodies naturally spring forth. In this way, something “other” or mysterious becomes personal.

Studying God, then, should inspire us — not only intellectually, but holistically. When we look at God and converse with Him, we should be enraptured with words, melodies, images, ideas, designs, and so on. After all, the source of creativity is God Himself.