Bibliotheca Sacra 134 (October 1990) 387-98.

Copyright 1990 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.

 

 

 

The Bible as Literature

Part 4 (of 4 parts):

 

 

"With Many Such Parables": The

Imagination as a Means of Grace

 

 

 

Leland Ryken

Professor of English

Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

 

 

The aim of this article is to explore a heresy that rules vast

segments of evangelical Christianity. That heresy is to defend a ne-

glect of the imagination and the arts on the ground that believers

must be busy in God's work, assuming that God's work is never artis-

tic. Yet the Bible itself, to say nothing of the creation in which

humankind lives, shows that God's work is partly artistic.

One of my colleagues has several times conducted an informal

poll in his art classes. He asks how many students can say that in

their families any of the arts was talked about and regarded as im-

portant. The percentage of such families is exceedingly small. Then

when he inquires into the matter more precisely, he finds that in the

overwhelming number of cases either the families in which the arts

are considered important are non-Christian families, or the affirma-

tion of art is something that preceded conversion to Christianity.

Of all people on the face of the earth, Christians have the most

reason to value the arts and the imagination. The title of this arti-

cle speaks of the imagination as a means of grace. This does not mean

that participating in the arts makes a person more acceptable to God

or that the arts explicitly recall God's saving acts. Instead it sug-

gests that the imagination is a means by which God can reveal His

truth and beauty and people can respond with due appreciation.

 

387



388 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

The Doctrine of Creation and the Artistic Enterprise

 

In countering the heresy that God's work excludes involvement

in the arts, three great biblical principles may be addressed. The

first is the doctrine of Creation. The Bible begins by stating that God

created the world. That world is beautiful and artistically pleas-

ing, as is known simply by looking around and as the Bible confirms.

God looked at what He had created, and, "behold, it was very

good" (Gen. 1:31). The psalmist wrote that the creation proclaims

God's handiwork (Ps. 19:1), implying that handiwork has value. In

the Garden of Eden God made to grow "every tree that is pleasing to

the sight and good for food" (Gen. 2:9). This is a double criterion-

one artistic, the other utilitarian. The conditions for human well-

being have never changed since that moment. Can a person justify

the time spent reading a novel or writing a poem or visiting an art

gallery? In a Christian scheme of things, the answer is yes.

God also created people in His own image (Gen. 1:26). What

does this mean? At this point in the biblical record nothing is yet

known about the God of providence or redemption or the covenant.

The one thing known about God is that He creates. In its immediate

narrative context, therefore, the doctrine of the image of God in

people emphasizes that people are, like God, creative. A well-

known evangelical, when serving as a referee for one of my book

manuscripts, wrote a marginal comment about "the trivial view that

God's image in people is a matter of creativity." Is this the impres-

sion a person gets when reading Genesis 1? The comment is in fact an

evidence of the very heresy just mentioned.

What does the image of God in people say about the arts? It af-

firms human creativity as something good in principle, since it is an

imitation of one of God's own acts and perfections. Abraham Kuyper

once wrote, "As image-bearer of God, man possesses the possibility

both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it."1 Christian

poet Chad Walsh has said that the artist "can honestly see himself

as a kind of earthly assistant to God ... carrying on the delegated

work of creation, making the fullness of creation fuller."2 This ap-

plies equally to those who are not themselves creative artists but

who delight to enter into the creativity of others. And it stands as a

rebuke to those who disparage God's gift of creativity in people.

 

1 Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,

1943), p. 142.

2 Chad Walsh, "The Advantages of the Christian Faith for a Writer," in The

Christian Imagination, ed. Leland Ryken (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), p.

308.



"With Many Such Parables": The Imagination as a Means of Grace 389

 

This then is one foundation for thinking Christianly about the

arts: the Christian doctrine of Creation assures mankind that human

creativity can be honoring to God. God Himself created a world that

is artistically beautiful and delightful as well as utilitarian.

 

The Value of Beauty and Artistry

 

A second biblical principle is that works of art have value in

themselves, simply as objects of beauty and artistry. For one thing,

the Bible makes no division of art into sacred and secular.3 Art has

equal value in an everyday setting and in worship. The Bible in-

cludes not only songs sung in worship at the temple but also ones sung

in the everyday circumstances of work without direct reference to

anything religious (Num. 21:16-18; Isa. 16:10; 52:8-9). The Song of

Solomon is a collection of love lyrics that keeps the focus on human

love and does not explicitly bring God or spiritual values into the

picture. The Bible records a patriotic elegy by David about national

heroes that does not mention God (2 Sam. 1:17-27).

As an extension of this unwillingness to divide art into sacred

and secular, the Bible also refuses to make the value of artistic form

depend on religious content in works of art. Consider the many ref-

erences in the Psalms and elsewhere to instrumental music without

accompanying words. Can this be legitimate, even in worship? In

Psalm 150 musical sound alone is said to praise God when it is offered

to Him as an act of worship.

The descriptions of the visual art that adorned the Old Testa-

ment tabernacle and temple are a gold mine of information about the

arts, and one of the important things learned is that the art God pre-

scribed for these religious places was not always specifically reli-

gious in its content. There was a wealth of realistic or representa-

tional art that symbolized nothing specifically religious. The pil-

lars of the temple were decorated with pomegranates and lilies (1

Kings 7:15-22), and the stands for the brass lavers with lions, oxen,

and palm trees (vv. 29, 36). Given the stereotyped notions of "sacred

art" that often prevail in Christian circles, this might seem out of

place. As the Old Testament worshipers stared at the lampstand,

they saw, not angels and cherubim, but things of natural beauty-

flowers and blossoms.

What should one make of this exuberance over the forms of na-

ture in the most holy places of Old Testament worship? Above all it

 

3 For a fuller discussion of this and related points, see Leland Ryken, The Liberated

Imagination: Thinking Christianly about the Arts (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Pub-

lishers, 1990).



390 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

completely undercuts any sacred-secular dichotomy for art. What

God created is a suitable subject for the artist. Since God made the

flowers and sky, they are worth painting or carving.

Most surprising of all, given current stereotypes, was the pres-

ence of abstract or nonrepresentational art in the tabernacle and

temple. Nonrepresentational art means art that represents nothing

beyond itself, like a Persian tapestry. As the Old Testament wor-

shipers approached the temple, they saw two gigantic freestanding

pillars over 25 feet high. These monoliths had no architectural

weight-bearing function. They did not resemble anything in created

nature. They were simply beautiful and suggested by their very size

and form the grandeur, stability, and power of God. They also made

the worshipers feel small as they stood beside them, and this, too,

made a religious statement in a purely artistic, nonverbal way.

The artistic imagination is free to be itself. What it produces

under the guidance of God is good in itself. The robe of Aaron indi-

cates that. The embellishment of Aaron's priestly garment was "for

glory and for beauty" (Exod. 28:2). Beauty and artistry are worthy in

themselves.

Some of the art in the Old Testament was realistic, but there

was no requirement that it had to be so. The decorations on Aaron's

garment included blue pomegranates. What's so unusual about that?

In nature there are no blue pomegranates. An intriguing artifact in

the temple is the molten sea (1 Kings 7:23-26). It was a huge circular

basin 45 feet in circumference and holding up to 10,000 gallons of wa-

ter. Under the brim were engravings of gourds. The whole grand de-

sign rested on the backs of 12 statuesque oxen. Nowhere in the real

world can one find a sea held up on the backs of oxen. It is an utterly

fantastic conception, all the more delightful for its imaginary quali-

ties.

Some of the literature in the Bible is equally fantastic. In a sin-

gle short chapter of Zechariah, for example, readers learn about a

flying scroll that destroys the wood and stone of houses, a woman

named Wickedness sitting inside a cereal container, and two women

with wings like those of a stork who lift the container into the sky.

As Schaeffer wrote, "Christian artists do not need to be threatened

by fantasy and imagination.... The Christian is the really free per-

son ... whose imagination should fly beyond the stars."4

An additional reason for believing that works of art have value

in themselves emerges from what the Bible says about the vocation

and gifts of the artist. Two key passages in Exodus describe how God

 

4 Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,



"With Many Such Parables": The Imagination as a Means of Grace 391

 

called and equipped the artists who worked on the tabernacle (Exod.

31:1-11; 35:30-36:2). God called the artists, filled them with His

Spirit, inspired them with artistic ability, and stirred them up to do

the work. The impression gained from these passages is that the

artist's calling is a glorious calling. Unlike what often happens in

Christian circles today, the artist's vocation was not regarded as

suspect or second best.

This, then, is a second way in which to think Christianly about

the arts: the Bible affirms that the artistic imagination and its cre-

ations have value in themselves, not simply for the religious or

ideational content they may contain. The arts do not need to be de-

fended, as people throughout history have felt obliged to defend

them, as something other than art. They have integrity for what

they are in themselves. Christians find a place for the arts as an aid

to worship, but not often as an act of worship. Yet 91 out of 107 refer-

ences to music in the Psalms specify God as the audience of music.5

The principle that emerges from this is significant for the arts: any-

thing offered to God can become an act of worship. This means that

artistic experiences, whether as creators or participants, can be an

act of worship-a means of grace.

The value of the nonutilitarian and the dignity of the concept of

leisure must also be acknowledged. The Christian community lacks

an adequate theory of leisure and play. Regarding recreation, in-

cluding the arts, as frivolous or ignoble, Christians often sink to me-

diocrity by default. Yet the wise use of leisure time is part of the

stewardship of life.6 No one could have lived a busier life than Jesus

did during the years of His public ministry. Yet He did not reduce

life to continuous work or evangelism. He took time to enjoy the

beauty of the lily and to attend dinners.

 

Truth and the Imagination

 

The Bible, then, endorses artistic creativity and encourages

Christians to believe that artistic form and beauty have value in

themselves as gifts from God. This might be viewed as the nonutili-

tarian side of the artistic imagination. But the imagination is useful

as well as delightful. This leads to the question of truth in art, or

the imagination as a vehicle for expressing truth. This too is a value

of the arts. The imagination can express truth in its own unique way

for the glory of God and the edification of people.

 

 

5 Dale Topp, Music in the Christian Community (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans

Publishing Co., 1959), p. 13.

6 For an elaboration of a Christian view of leisure, see Leland Ryken, Work and

Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987).



392 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

What is this unique way of expressing truth? Such truth as the

arts express is conveyed by means of the imagination. The imagina-

tion images forth its subject matter. It does not work primarily by ab-

stractions or propositions but by concrete images and experiences. As

Chesterton put it, "Imagination demands an image."7 The arts take

concrete human experience rather than abstract information as their

subject.

Can the imagination express truth? Look at the example of the

Bible. The Bible is overwhelmingly literary in its form. The one

thing that it is not is what we so often picture it as being-a theolog-

ical outline with proof texts attached. When asked to define

"neighbor," Jesus told a story. He constantly spoke in images and

metaphors: "I am the light of the world"; "You are the salt of the

earth." The Bible repeatedly appeals to the intelligence through

the imagination. The prominence of music and visual art in the wor-

ship described in the Bible has already been noted. If it is doubted

that truth can be embodied in visual, nonpropositional form, look at

baptism and communion. They use physical images that allow

people to experience spiritual realities.

It is therefore not surprising that Dorothy Sayers links the

imagination with Christian theology. In a famous essay on artistic

theory, she wrote,

Let us take note of a new word that has crept into the argument by way

of Christian theology-the word Image. Suppose, having rejected the

words "copy," "imitation," and "representation" as inadequate, we sub-

stitute the word "image" and say that what the artist is doing is to image

forth something or the other, and connect that with St. Paul's phrase:

"God ... hath spoken to us by His son, the ... express image of His per-

son."-Something which, by being an image, expresses that which it

images.8

"Imaging forth" is exactly what the Bible repeatedly does. Its

most customary way of expressing God's truth is not the sermon or

theological outline but the story, the poem, the vision, and the let-

ter, all of them literary forms and products of the imagination.

Think of how much biblical truth has been incarnated in character

and event. To this can be added the poetry of the Bible, including

the heavy incidence of image and metaphor in the prose of the New

Testament.

The point is not simply that the Bible allows for the imagina-

tion as a form of communication. It is rather that the biblical writers

 

7 G. K. Chesterton, "The Soul in Every Legend," in The Man Who Was Chesterton,

ed. Raymond T. Bond (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1902), p. 37.

8 Dorothy L. Sayers, "Towards a Christian Aesthetic," in The New Orpheus, ed.

Nathan A. Scott (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1964), p. 13.



"With Many Such Parables": The Imagination as a Means of Grace 393

 

and Jesus found it impossible to communicate the truth of God with-

out using the resources of the imagination. The Bible does more than

sanction the arts. It shows how indispensable they are.

That the imagination is a vehicle of truth is known also from

sources other than the Bible. An earlier article referred to the dis-

covery of recent brain research that shows that the two hemispheres

of the human brain respond to stimuli and assimilate reality in dif-

ferent ways.9 The left hemisphere is active in logical thinking,

grasping abstract propositions, and dealing with language. The

right hemisphere is dominant in processing visual and other sensory

experiences, in seeing whole-part relationships, in grasping meta-

phor and humor, and in experiencing emotion. The arts and the imag-

ination are essentially right-brain media. Believers need to express

and receive God's truth with the right brain as well as the left.

In Western culture at large, and perhaps especially in the evan-

gelical subculture, the tendency is overwhelming to assume that

truth is conceptual and propositional only. But the arts, with their

emphasis on imagination, show that there is another type of truth,

or a whole other way by which people assimilate and know the

truth. Suppose a person is assembling an appliance. If the directions

include a good picture, he may not even use the written instructions.

It is a fallacy to think that one's world view consists only of

ideas. It is a world picture as well as a set of ideas. It includes im-

ages that may govern behavior even more than ideas do. At the

level of ideas, for example, a person may know the goal of life is not

to amass physical possessions. But if his mind is filled with images

of fancy cars and expensive clothes and big houses, his behavior will

likely follow a materialistic path. A person might say that God

created the world, but if his mind is filled with images of evolution-

ary processes, he will start to think like an evolutionist. Someone

may know that he should eat moderately, but his appetites override

that knowledge when his mind is filled with images of luscious food.

The imagination is a leading ingredient in the way people view re-

ality. They live under its sway, whether they realize it or not. Ad-

vertisers seem to grasp this better than people do in the church.

 

The Uses of the Imagination in Teaching and Preaching

 

Thus far three biblical principles have been suggested to combat

the assumption that doing God's work excludes a commitment to the

imagination and the arts. Those principles are the doctrine of Cre-

 

9 Leland Ryken, '"I Have Used Similitudes': The Poetry of the Bible," Bibliotheca

Sacra 147 (July-September 1990): 260-61.



394 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

ation, the Bible's endorsement of art as having value in itself, and

the Bible's example in confirming that the imagination is one means

by which people can know and express the truth. What are some

ways these principles may be applied to Christians and especially

to teachers and preachers?

In view of the Bible's endorsement of the arts, Christians need to

affirm artists and their work much more than they typically do.

They need to show from the pulpit and the Sunday school podium

and by their conversations and actions that they believe the arts to

be important. Everyone has an imagination. Some Christians have

sat in the pew for years and never been told that their God-given

imagination is good. Art, music, and literature deserve a more

prominent place in churches than they currently have. They deserve

to be in the bulletin and church services, and Sunday school classes.

It would be helpful to have artists' nights when church members

display their own visual art or photography, read their own poems

or stories, and perform music. Too little of artists' gifts is seen in

churches today.

All this is in sharp contrast to what is found in the worship de-

scribed in the Bible, where the arts were flaunted to a degree almost

unheard of today. The idea of the beauty of holiness does not mean

much in contemporary worship, and one of the reasons for the attrac-

tiveness of high church worship to some evangelicals is that their

aesthetic inclinations are either starved or offended in evangelical

churches.

There is no reason why the burden for artistic expression within

the church should rest solely on the minister. Most churches have a

core of people who are interested in the arts. They are the logical

people to tap as resources for making the artistic imagination a vital

part of church life.

Many Christians have been guilty of a great abdication. They

cannot all be artists, but they can all respect and participate in the

art that others create. The Christian church must be active on every

front in society-in science, in economics, in education, in politics, in

the arts, in the media. God gave His followers a cultural command

as well as a missionary command. They should not set these up as ri-

vals. To relinquish the presence of believers in any cultural area

only weakens the Christian voice in the culture as a whole and

makes evangelism all the more difficult.

The attitude of Christians toward the arts says something about

the God they proclaim, and often the wrong signal is sent to the un-

saved. A missionary who wrestled with the issue of how beauty re-

lated to her life in a foreign culture came to this conclusion: "I be-

lieve my attitude toward beauty and order, as reflected in my home

and lifestyle, says much to the people around me about the God I



"With Many Such Parables": The Imagination as a Means of Grace 395

 

serve. Therefore, I want to reflect ... something of the artistry, the

beauty, the order of the one I'm representing, and in whose image

I've been made."10

Christians also need to acknowledge more fully that the imagi-

nation is a leading means by which to express the truth. Turning

from the pages of the Bible to the evangelical subculture today, one

cannot help but be struck by the contrast in this regard. The theolog-

ical abstraction and outline have replaced the imaginative boldness

of the writers of the Bible. People no longer trust the power of

metaphor or paint on canvas or musical sound to express the truth. Je-

sus, however, did not distrust the imagination. He told stories and

spoke in metaphor.

The non-Christian world has a better grasp of the power of the

arts to persuade people than the Christian community does. For ev-

ery "Chariots of Fire," there are hundreds of movies that express an

untruthful or immoral view of life. Christians need to believe that a

painting or piece of fiction can be as truthful to life and to the Chris-

tian view of life as a sermon or religious article can be. "Chariots of

Fire" is as truthful an expression of Eric Liddle's Christianity as is a

biography of him. This is not to suggest that believers displace any-

thing with art, music, and literature. Rather, the point is that these

too are ways in which God's truth and beauty can be communicated.

The Bible itself communicates the truth in all possible ways. And it

does so with obvious artistry. Christians need to lay to rest the

heresy that God's work is never artistic.

A final application has to do with the sermon. As a modern-day

Puritan who believes in the primacy of the sermon in worship, I find

the state of the sermon in evangelical churches alarming. It is in

deep trouble in most churches. This is concealed from view because

churchgoers accept listening to the sermon as part of the duties of at-

tending church. They theorize that as long as a church is filled with

people listening to sermons, the sermon must be flourishing as an in-

stitution. But sitting dutifully through the sermon is not the same as

being excited by it or strongly impacted by it. The average church-

goer finds something lacking in sermons and feels mildly guilty about

not being as interested in sermons as he or she would like to be. It

must be remembered that the visual media have transformed what

audiences expect in a sermon. Contemporary preaching has captured

the minds and sometimes the emotions of people, but not their imagi-

nations.

One problem is the excessive tendency toward theological ab-

straction in contemporary preaching. If the imagination is a valid

 

10 Margaret Ho, "Reflecting a God of Beauty," Eternity, November 1982, p. 29.



396 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

means of communicating God's truth, then the Christian message

needs to be imaged forth more than it is. A good starting point is to

preach on literary parts of the Bible. There is no defensible reason

why preachers should gravitate so naturally to the most abstract

parts of the Bible, especially the Epistles. The stories and poems

and visions of the Bible are important too.

And when preachers choose a literary text in the Bible, it is im-

portant to approach it as literature. A story or poem asks that the

readers and hearers enter a whole imagined world and walk around

inside it. It conveys its truth by getting the readers to share an expe-

rience. Reliving the story or the thought process of the poet should

be the first item on the agenda of Bible expositors. To do this will

require them to rethink their concept of a three-part sermon. Instead

of imposing three propositional generalizations on the text and dip-

ping into the text for supporting data, they must first relive the story

or poem. Then they can deduce the principles and apply them to the

lives of their listeners.

When expositors make an application, they need to rely on their

imagination-their ability to picture the truth in concrete terms.

The imagination allows them to identify with people and experi-

ences beyond themselves. Identifying with things "out there" is not

something that comes easily to preachers. The voice of authentic

human experience with its suffering and longing is not as common as

it should be in contemporary preaching. The exceptions to that stric-

ture are the preachers who rather quickly achieve popularity and

become celebrities. But the ability to identify with actual human

experience is within the reach of every preacher or teacher and

needs only to be cultivated.

Expositors tend to look on sermon or lesson preparation in terms of

doing research for a lecture or paper. They should view it more like

writing a story or poem. According to the usual model, the preacher

or Bible teacher spends time reading Bible commentaries and finding

illustrations for generalizations. But as poets and fiction writers go

about their composition, the key ingredients in their process are

memory, observation of life, introspection, reading, and imagining.

Paradoxically the ability to identify with the person in the

pew and to picture the truth concretely might begin with introspec-

tion. Imaginative writers are not afraid to look within and assume

that what they find there is of universal interest and insight. The

minister or teacher who sits down to breakfast and who transports

children to music lessons or Little League games has the same ten-

sions and triumphs, the same anxieties and longings, that ordinary

people have. Not to tap this source is a failure of both nerve and

imagination, and it leaves congregations with abstracted theology

as their Sunday diet.



"With Many Such Parables": The Imagination as a Means of Grace 397

 

Observation is of course needed to supplement introspection. The

way to empathize with people is to observe their pain and tri-

umphs, their longings and fears. Pressed for time as they are,

preachers can develop a network for gaining insight into how a bibli-

cal passage applies to real life. The most efficient means of doing

this is to assemble a small group Bible study that studies the pas-

sage on which the next sermon will be based. The application part of

the sermon is too big a task for one person to produce alone.

In addition to needing more imaging of the truth from the pulpit

and Sunday school podium, more innovation is also needed. One of

the functions of the imagination is to defamiliarize what has be-

come overly familiar. Its task is to state the timeless truth in per-

petually fresh ways. People are temperamentally resistant to

change and experimentation. It is easy to forget that in its original

setting the Bible was a subversive book. Its writers and speakers

challenged conventional assumptions and conventional ways of stat-

ing things. Preachers and teachers need to be more daring and imagi-

native, knowing beforehand that some experiments will work better

than others.

What form might such innovation take? Expositors might prof-

itably follow the model of the Bible itself. The Bible takes every

possible approach to the truth, much of it literary and artistic.

Could some of the street drama of the Old Testament prophets serve

as a model? Jeremiah once wore a yoke on his neck as a message to

the people. On another occasion he exposed a garment to the ele-

ments until it had decayed in order to symbolize the spiritual state

of his nation.

What prevents us from trying brief dramatic vignettes and vi-

sual imagery as part of a sermon? Equally attractive is the possibil-

ity of impersonating a biblical character, either directly or in a

pretended interview. The Bible consistently appeals to the right

side of the brain as well as the left. There is no reason why sermons

and Sunday school lessons cannot feature more visual and aural

resources than they customarily do.

And what about the prominence given in the Bible to narrative

or story? One of the most universal human impulses can be summed

up in the four words, "Tell me a story." Among the findings of two

people who made a study of successful American companies was the

conclusion that "we are more influenced by stories (vignettes that are

whole and make sense in themselves) than by data."11 There is ev-

ery reason for Bible communicators to tap into the story quality of

 

11 Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., In Search of Excellence: Lessons

from America's Best-Run Companies (New York: Harper and Row, 1982), p. 61.



398 Bibliotheca Sacra / October-December 1990

 

both the Bible and the Christian faith. It is possible to make use of

the strengths of narrative preaching without casting an entire ser-

mon in narrative form. But more than the conventional two-minute

anecdote is needed to illustrate a generalization. A story is needed

that invites the hearers to enter a whole world of the imagination

and that incarnates the truth instead of simply illustrating it.

Fiction too has an amazing ability to defamiliarize both bibli-

cal material and everyday reality. It uses dislocation to create new

angles of vision. It removes hearers from the familiar world so they

can see that world with greater clarity. The classic example of this

in the Bible itself is the parable Nathan told to David (2 Sam. 12:1-

15). By entering a fictional world, David was completely disarmed.

Having entered this world of the imagination, he looked out of it to

the world of his own life. This is how the imagination works: it

first removes the hearers from immediate reality to send them back

to it with renewed insight. There is nothing wrong with telling a

story that does not carry all its meaning on the surface. Jesus told fic-

tional stories that partly concealed the truth in order to reveal it by

delayed action to the thoughtful listener.

To sum up, all people, including Christians, need the truth and

beauty that the imagination can impart. That truth and beauty are

needed during the week, and on Sunday. The nature of truth is such

that it can never be adequately expressed or experienced only as an

abstraction or as a set of facts. Truth also requires the story, the

poem, the paint on canvas, the sound of music.

 

Editor's Note

 

This is the fourth in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the W. H.

Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, November 7-10, 1989.

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dr. Roy Zuck

Dallas Theological Seminary

3909 Swiss Ave.

Dallas, TX 75204

Digital copy proofed by Dan James. Thanks!

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: thildebrandt@gordon.edu