Imagining Theology

Encounters with God in Scripture, Interpretation, and Aesthetics

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The imagination is where the Creator chooses to meet his creatures, says renowned theologian Garrett Green. The Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit set the imagination free for genuine and creative knowledge of God, the world, others, and the self. Green explains that theology is best understood as human imagination faithfully conformed to the Bible as the paradigmatic key to the Christian gospel. He unpacks the implications of the imagination for a variety of theological issues, such as interpretation, aesthetics, eschatology, and the relationship between church and culture.

Contents

1. Toward a Normative Christian Imagination
Part 1: Imagination and Theological Hermeneutics
2. Myth, History, and Imagination: The Creation Narratives in the Bible and Theology
3. Who's Afraid of Ludwig Feuerbach? Suspicion and the Religious Imagination
4. The Crisis of Mainline Christianity and the Liberal Failure of Imagination
5. Hans Frei and the Hermeneutics of the Second Naïveté
Part 2: Metaphor, Aesthetics, and Gender
6. The Mirror, the Lamp, and the Lens: On the Limits of Imagination
7. Barth on Beauty: The Ambivalence of Reformed Aesthetics
8. The Gender of God and the Theology of Metaphor
Part 3: Modernity and Eschatology in Christian Imagination
9. The Adulthood of the Modern Age: Hamann's Critique of Kantian Enlightenment
10. Kant as Christian Apologist: The Failure of Accommodationist Theology
11. Moltmann's Two Eschatologies
12. The Eschatological Imagination
Part 4: Theology of Religion and the Religions
13. The Myth of Religion: How to Think Christianly in a Secular World
14. Pluralism and the Religious Imagination
15. Imaginary Gods and the Anonymous Christ
Part 5: Conclusion
16. Christian Theology in a Post-Christian Age
Index


Endorsements

"Garrett Green's latest work caps a lifetime's investigation and reflection on the nature of imagination and its function in the work of Christian theology. These chapters take the exercise of modern theological imagination as their theme and explore it with rare and detailed insight coupled with wide-ranging philosophical engagement and historical understanding. Green's own imaginative engagements with pressing questions of our moment--about God-talk, biblical hermeneutics, the character and limits of theological reasoning, the simultaneous challenges of secularity and religious pluralism--promise to provoke, complicate, and enrich our theology, life, and faith."

Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen

"In this book Garrett Green pulls together a lifetime of reflection on Scripture, imagination, and aesthetics. Wide in range and deep in comprehension, his beautifully written essays sparkle with intelligence and insight. No one who cares about these themes will fail to be illuminated--and even edified."

George Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"According to Genesis, God grieved on seeing that 'every imagination of the thoughts of [the human] heart was only evil continually' (Gen. 6:5 KJV). Yes, but that is only part of the story. Drawing on his years of reflection on the subject, Garrett Green makes a powerful case for the positive role of imagination in the divine-human relationship. It turns out that there are faithful imaginings as well as evil ones. A deeply thoughtful and elegantly written work of Christian theology."

Joseph Mangina, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"Among the many rewards in reading Garrett Green is how well he is able to address longstanding controversies with fresh explorations that defy conventional stereotypes. In Imagining Theology three examples of such explorations stand out: the stalemate between science and religion, the imagined versus the real, and the one 'image of the invisible God' (Col. 1:15) professed as self-revealed in Jesus Christ juxtaposed with religious pluralism. In each instance, historical excurses, conceptual analysis, and exegetical assessments combine to reach aptly articulated and sometimes surprising conclusions. Expounding further on his previous work regarding imagination, Green draws upon a wealth of sources, most especially Thomas Kuhn's emphasis on the role of paradigms in shaping imagination and the influential theologies of Karl Barth and Hans Frei regarding the one Word of God's self-revelation of grace proclaimed in Jesus Christ. All of which leads to the author's polemical faith affirmation of a normative Christian paradigm and imagination unashamed of the gospel and trusting in the sufficiency of the grace of Jesus Christ. But precisely as gift, this normative paradigm and unique focus of Christian theology in a post-Christian age is one, Green concludes, that 'will also acknowledge our solidarity with others on the way' and 'learn much even from those whose ultimate commitments [we] cannot share.' I am happy to recommend the stimulating cogency and conviction of this interesting and most relevant book."

Christopher Morse, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor Emeritus of Theology and Ethics, Union Theological Seminary


The Author

  1. Garrett Green
    Miles Forhan

    Garrett Green

    Garrett Green (PhD, Yale University) is professor emeritus at Connecticut College, where he taught for four decades. He is the author of several books, including Imagining God: Theology and the Religious Imagination and Theology, Hermeneutics,...

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