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Imagination: For God’s Glory and Others’ Good, Part 1

While abusing the Bible for his own self-pleasure, doomsaying false prophet and Christ-slanderer Harold Camping also abused his God-given imagination — similar to how people also abuse God’s gift of romance and sex.

So begins the series in which I’ll compare creativity to sex, and Lord willing, get away with it.

I also hope to draw what I’m sure is a connection between recent discussions: an online column by Russell Moore called Can Romance Novels Hurt Your Heart?, our own Fred Warren’s satirical take on overreactions to bad fiction, and (why not?) Harold Camping.

First, here’s how compare romance, physical results included, and human creativity.

  • Romance and imagination are gifts from God, good gifts, for His glory and our good.
  • Even after the Rebellion (Genesis 3) that resulted in humans abusing good Things (cf. Mark 7), romance’s goodness is proved by passages such as Genesis 2, Ephesians 5 and (of course) all of the Song of Solomon. Imagination and creativity are shown to be good in Exodus 31-38 (the construction of the Tabernacle), and 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3 add that in anything a Christian does, he must glorify God.

However, both romance/sex and creativity can be used, or abused, in different ways:

  1. Abused, for one’s own self-pleasure.
  2. Rejected, by pretending they do not exist or are themselves evil Things.
  3. Used and enjoyed, according to God’s Word, for His glory and our good.

1. Imagination abused

Most recently, lying, doomsaying Bible-abuser Harold Camping also abused his imagination, treating his own myth-making as reality and rejecting God in favor of his own self-pleasure.

For a guy of 90, Camping has stayed active, even before the whole false-“Rapture” thing last Saturday. Yes, I’m picturing him as Christian-spinoff cult-dom’s very own Hugh Hefner. But instead of keeping to an unkempt mansion with women, he stays in a studio with a Bible and “reads” that book the way no one reads plain writing: himself the enlightened “interpreter,” ignoring the plain Gospel in favor of supposed secret codes “read” by his own imagination.

Based on Mark 4: 33-34, which tells how Jesus spoke to them, a particular people group at a particular time, only in parables, Camping claims the Bible is all one great big parable whose allegories and symbols only the enlightened (himself) can determine. Also, because these are the last days, the Bible now gets to be really revealed, because the end of Daniel 12 mentions “the words” being “shut up and sealed” until the end. (Source: Alpha and Omega Ministries.)

That’s abuse of Scripture, and abuse of imagination. And it got worse on Monday, May 23.

Asked if he had any advice to offer those who had given away their material wealth in the belief the world was about to end, Mr Camping said they would cope.

“We just had a great recession. There’s lots of people who lost their jobs, lots of people who lost their houses… and somehow they all survived,” he said.

“We’re not in the business of giving any financial advice,” he added.

“We’re in the business of telling people maybe there is someone you can talk to, and that’s God.”

Click to see source: Dr. James White (who debated Camping in 2009) and Alpha and Omega Ministries.

In other words: My own “spiritual” rights to be Big Leader matter more than honoring God and His Word, loving people and repenting for my wrongs. My imagination is for my own self-pleasure. And I don’t give a crap who gets hurt or if God’s Name is slandered.

Yet it would be easy to critique Camping without also considering: might we slip into being reckless with God’s Word, even while sincerely believing we seek to learn its Author’s intent?

And even if we don’t really believe our imagined scenarios are truth or go about spending millions to promote them as truth, do we let them trump God’s truth? Might we, even with the best of intentions, sometimes abuse our imaginations for our own pleasure?

That’s something to ponder. And what’s scary is that Camping — just like us sometimes — seems to have begun with very sincere intentions. He wanted to find the Bible’s deeper meanings. Apparently he wanted to apply his imagination in search of truth. Shouldn’t all Christians also want the same? Yet Camping has refused to repent and do that in God’s way.

A final bonus thought: I’ve begun to wonder if reading some fantastic, God-honoring novels may have actually relieved Camping’s abuses of his own imagination. Like a sex deviant, did this false teacher  take out his frustrated imagination on the Bible, his deceived followers (who also want the wrong kind of escapism), and real Christians who are now stuck saying He’s Not One of Us? Could Camping have been helped by having a legitimate “outlet” for his speculations, similar to how marriage is the right outworking for God-given sexual desires?

Next week I’ll pick up with the second extreme view, often held as an overcorrection to abuse of imagination: Christians who deny their own imaginations, or the goodness of this gift.

Addendum: correcting Camping with Christian imagination?

Friday, May 27 — Readers below point out how I should have been clearer about how simply throwing books at Camping to try to point him toward better, more-God-glorifying uses of imagination, will certainly not correct his errors. That alone wouldn’t help now, and it wouldn’t have helped in the past either.

Author (and SF contributor) Kaci Hill, for example, wrote:

I think I could give him any novel I wanted and it wouldn’t by default prevent him from thinking what he wanted or change his mind. Books may influence theology, but they can’t create them.

Amen times ten. But — still speculating here — if one could time-travel back decades ago when Camping was still acting more orthodox, to change history, and had some assurance that both time and people could be rewritten, I do believe that exposure to Christ-influenced imagination done right could have helped. But absolutely, that would be secondary to the main need for his sinful impulses to be changed from the inside-out, and ultimately only the Holy Spirit can do that.

Camping’s primary problem is (I believe this is proven even more true now) spiritual arrogance, sourced by an unregenerate heart. He doesn’t act saved. If he dies in this condition, he’ll have proved that he never was saved. Christians don’t act like this and make a practice of sinning, without repenting. (Source: 1 John.)

So yes, absolutely, only giving him fun novels — the best stuff Christendom has come up with, even by the Patron Saints of Christian Visionary Fiction, Lewis and Tolkien — would not have helped at all. I hope I never gave the impression I thought otherwise.

In fact, for all we know Camping knew about Christian imagination done right and overtly rejected it. Similarly, he rejected the truth in the church where he used to be, and which did its job by disciplining him (yes!) when he started going off the rails, after which he (of course) decided the Holy Spirit had left the churches, and salvation was no longer available inside even orthodox-believing Gospel-driven churches.

Insisting someone hurl himself into the practice of God-honoring imagination, without having the desire to honor God in the first place and use His gifts rightly — which can only come from repentance and acceptance of the Gospel — wouldn’t work at all.

Not only that, it’s legalism: enacting another Do-This, without a Why.

Maybe that was an error above: I myself assumed the Gospel of repentance and faith in Christ! (Re-note to self: never, ever, assume that.)

Without a Gospel-wrought change, not even the Patron Saints of Christian Visionary Fiction would have any effect on a rebel human who’s determined to abuse his own God-given imagination. Even now readers claiming to be “familiar” with them will claim they said or meant things they never did (more recently, Rob Bell, totally missing the point of The Great Divorce, claimed it supports his beliefs in non-permanent Hell). So there’s no chance that only great fiction, without a heart-level change that only the Holy Spirit could use to regenerate his spiritually dead heart, would have helped Camping.

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Kaci Hill
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So begins the series in which I’ll compare creativity to sex, and Lord willing, get away with it.

 
Who says I have to let you get away with anything? That’s creepy, dude. 😛
 
On Camping: My dad said the saddest part of all that is the people who lost everything by believing him.  Which is true, and what will set me off if I think on it long. But that’s kinda your point: His victims. For myself, I think there’s a special level of Hell reserved for people who deceive, manipulate, and abuse people’s souls that way.

Camping claims the Bible is all one great big parable whose allegories and symbols only the enlightened (himself) can determine.

 
That’s not just abuse, that’s heresy. I didn’t know that.

 
In other words: My own “spiritual” rights to be Big Leader matter more than honoring God and His Word, loving people and repenting for my wrongs. My imagination is for my own self-pleasure. And I don’t give a crap who gets hurt or if God’s Name is slandered.
Yet it would be easy to critique Camping without also considering: might we slip into being reckless with God’s Word, even while sincerely believing we seek to learn its Author’s intent?
And even if we don’t really believe our imagined scenarios are truth or go about spending millions to promote them as truth, do we let them trump God’s truth? Might we, even with the best of intentions, sometimes abuse our imaginations for our own pleasure?

I’m gonna have to think about that. I think where I got hung up in the last post was I wouldn’t have used ‘imagination’ in a non-fiction setting. It’s completely legitimate, and Scripture uses it that way, but I’ll have to think things through.
 

A final bonus thought: I’ve begun to wonder if reading some fantastic, God-honoring novels may have actually relieved Camping’s abuses of his own imagination. Like a sex deviant, did this false teacher  take out his frustrated imagination on the Bible, his deceived followers (who also want the wrong kind of escapism), and real Christians who are now stuck saying He’s Not One of Us? Could Camping have been helped by having a legitimate “outlet” for his speculations, similar to how marriage is the right outworking for God-given sexual desires?

Could you flesh this thought out for me? Marriage itself isn’t going to solve all the problems for a person having such ‘tension.’ I’ve heard it can actually compound it sometimes. Also, I have no idea what the fictive outlet parallel would be? Read ‘The Third Millenium’?  😉 More seriously, did you ever read a book that I think is titled “Millenium” or something? I’ll have to hunt it down, but it’s basically about this guy who becomes so obsessed with prophecy and end times that he becomes a terrorist (it made sense, in the book).  So, telling a guy with a penchant for that kind of thing to go read a dozen books on the subject might well have the adverse effect.
 
 
 

Galadriel
Guest

Interesting. That first line will definately attract attention, if nothing else.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Marriage itself isn’t going to solve all the problems for a person having such ‘tension.’

Totally agreed, and yet still marriage is what Scripture advises for those who “burn” (1 Cor. 7: 8-9), for example. Most Christians, even those who struggle more (as discussed much in Fred’s column on Tuesday) would agree that marriage does certainly help. But I think my main point is that, continuing struggles aside, marriage is the only permissible and God-glorifying means to fulfill those desires — just as fiction, not the Bible (or other nonfiction) is the only appropriate genre to explore story-imaginations.

So, telling a guy with a penchant for that kind of thing to go read a dozen books on the subject might well have the adverse effect.

Indeed — especially because the fiction would not be the source of the problem; rather, an unregenerate heart is at fault. Camping doesn’t act like a Christian at all. Many are rightly saying, I believe, that unless he repents, he’ll prove he isn’t anything of the sort. So to suggest only that fiction could have helped would certainly be treating only a symptom: worrying about what he put in (or didn’t) rather than what comes out (Mark 7).

Yet I do wonder if other Christians — who are truly saved and whose wanderings about the Bible don’t rise to the level of heresy, like Camping’s do — could ensure they aren’t stifling their imaginations out of some sense of false piety. More on this, next week.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

By the way, how do the new comment features suit everyone?

Fred Warren
Member

What? No more coding? Heretic.

Kidding–love it. Thanks!

Kathrine Roid
Guest

Absolutely love it.  Also nice we can hit the “thumbs up” instead of typing up a ditto or staying quiet. However, I did like seeing people’s most recent posts to their blogs, which appears to have disappeared.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Kathrine: unfortunately at this point, one could technically give a thumbs-up to one’s own comment, with absolute anonymity, and even log in from different computers with new IP addresses and do the same multiple times.

So we’re all on the Honor System, and that’s it.

However, the alternative would be the Facebook Like button (again), which would add name visibility, if you’re friends with that person, but also echo to FB profiles links to every comment you liked. Any support for that, perchance?

Kathrine Roid
Guest

Well, hopefully the honor system will work on this blog. 🙂  I love the community here.  Besides, the high-thumbed comments aren’t being displayed prominently, so much of the temptation for self-thumbing is gone.
Oh no, please don’t go the FB route.  Not all have FB, and not all of us who have FB have public profiles.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

I did like seeing people’s most recent posts to their blogs, which appears to have disappeared.

Kathrine, I like that one too, and I’m not sure when it vanished. Perhaps the comment-rank plugin and the comment-love plugin can’t get along? I’ll make repairs as soon as I can; however, tomorrow I’ll be traveling most of the weekend, so it might take a few days!

Galadriel
Guest

Much cooler.
I kept looking for those features anyway before

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Ooooohh, CommentLuv is back. I really liked that feature a lot. These other bells and kazoos are fun, certainly. That one is helpful. Thanks for making the site so user friendly, Stephen.

Becky

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

I seriously have no idea what I did there, other than re-uploading the site’s style sheet.

Thanks for the encouragement! I love the adjunct features too, not just for the inherent awesomeness but their functionality. Writing comments and formatting them rightly is now much easier — less worrying about closing tags, and as a result, less editing. 😀

Kaci Hill
Member

and as a result, less editing.

 
 
You really don’t know me, do you…..You have no idea what you’ve unleashed……  ::cackles::

Kathrine Roid
Guest

I guess that’s the website equivalent of restarting your computer. 😀

Esther
Guest

Yay! Oh Look! I can make it bold or italic now, or even underlined. And all without code.

A final bonus thought: I’ve begun to wonder if reading some fantastic, God-honoring novels may have actually relieved Camping’s abuses of his own imagination.

I can even quote stuff! Lovin’ it…
I don’t know if I can sign on to the statement in the quote above, but we CAN conclude from scripture that his use of his imagination was unscriptural and sinful. Since God gave the imagination, there has to be a right use of it. Ergo, there are also sinful uses of it.
From my own experience, though, I would say that there are times when sex shouldn’t be used, no matter how much “relief” is needed. Does this apply to imagination? If so, then I think we can learn to refrain from abusing it. But we may not use it wrongly in order to get “relief”. If Camping is not regenerate, the next question is would imagination turned in morally right directions have headed off this heresy by “relieving” his need for it, or would it simply have turned toward another depraved use of it?
I vote for the latter.

Esther
Guest

Hey! the underline and strikeout doesn’t show in the above post!
 

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

I’ve begun to wonder if reading some fantastic, God-honoring novels may have actually relieved Camping’s abuses of his own imagination.

Okay, I think I just troubleshooted this statement and found how it might have been worded better. As it is, it makes it sound like a) Camping’s main problem (or most of the problem) was simply lack of imagination, as opposed to corrupting the one he had, and b) We could solve a lot of the problem now by sending him some good SF novels.

Instead I’d rewrite it to say something like this:

If Camping had, long ago, not only read and enjoyed fantastic, God-honoring stories but understood the rightful, God-honoring place of his God-given imagination, that could have helped relieve his impulse to go off wandering and exploring in the realm of the speculative.

If he’d understood that from the beginning — founded, of course, on the more-crucial truth of how one rightly handles God’s Word — it could have helped prevent all this.

P.S.: Finally, this should be struckthrough. And this should be underlined. (EDIT: Hm. Worked for me, this time, anyway.)

Kaci Hill
Member

I’m still gonna go with Esther,  buddy.  I kinda worry about people who marry simply to, ah, ‘relieve the burning.’ I know it’s not true in all cases, but I’d be too worried that, with nothing else to found said marriage on, it’d quickly turn toxic and abusive (not necessarily physically).  I don’t really know that Paul was talking strictly about people who couldn’t control themselves; he elsewhere talks about self-control within the marriage bonds, so he clearly seems to think that can go badly.
 
I’m still not wild about this use of ‘imagination,’ btw. It seems to be trying to hybridize the creative realm of fiction and the inventive ways in which we deceive ourselves. I suppose it’s a difference of scope, but I really don’t want to be using the term interchangeably.  Plus, it seems to legitimize his bad theology by putting it in the same category as speculating the end times.  Either that, or it undermines the authority of Scripture by indicating that imagining a different ending of LOTR is equivalent to imagining a different version of Christ’s ascension (we don’t know the times) or a different version of the Law (it doesn’t matter how many times you get a prophetic word uttered in God’s name wrong).
 
It’s one thing to imagine a world in which Christ didn’t come, or in which the rules were different. It’s quite another to set out to change those rules.
 

If Camping had, long ago, not only read and enjoyed fantastic, God-honoring stories but understood the rightful, God-honoring place of his God-given imagination, that could have helped relieve his impulse to go off wandering and exploring in the realm of the speculative.

I think I could give him any novel I wanted and it wouldn’t by default prevent him from thinking what he wanted or change his mind. Books may influence theology, but they can’t create them.  You know, I stopped reading some sci-fi/fantasy because it was doing weird things to me? And you know, I have a friend who can’t read This Present Darkness because of her  previous dabblings in the occult. She just doesn’t think it’s a good idea. This line of thought would insist she read it.
I’m just saying. I know what’s in my own heart. I don’t think there’s a novel in the world that I should read if they take me down certain roads, and I don’t care who wrote it.

 
If he’d understood that from the beginning — founded, of course, on the more-crucial truth of how one rightly handles God’s Word — it could have helped prevent all this.

I think if he had that part right, he’d never have done it. But it doesn’t matter how many books you read; that’s a matter of the heart. If the Bible doesn’t teach him, I don’t know a novelist on this planet who could. We’re good, buddy, but we’re not that good.

Esther
Guest

Stephen, your rewrite didn’t really change what I understood you to say, except that it added “long ago” (i.e. a time element) and also added “and understood the rightful, God-honoring use of imagination”.
But adding time doesn’t change the principle and adding understanding changes EVERYTHING about your scenario. It’s absolutely, positively certain that he doesn’t and never did understand. If he had understood, then he’d be regenerate, and the game changes. But the fruit of his works and attitudes shows clearly that he was never regenerate, therefore he never understood. Therefore, imagination doesn’t even come into the question–no amount of it could make up for not understanding. Am I making sense?
I sympathize with your thought process of looking for what may have gone wrong in his earlier life that caused him to skew off-course. But I fear you cannot use this one as a support for reading and writing edifying and encouraging fiction using our imaginations in a godly way. That’s not the basis of the problem with Camping. And it wouldn’t solved it…only true faith could have solved it…and that is a gift of God.

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

(Resisting the urge to include HTML tags …) By the way, one can edit that way, by clicking the little HTML button on the new toolbar, to open a pop-up editor.

Some replies to Kaci — and Kaci, I’m agreeing with everything you said, yet you’re taking things in a slightly different direction, and either missing what I wrote about how all this imagination stuff is secondary anyway, and/or perhaps missing it because I wasn’t clear enough about that.

(Immediate EDIT: all this also applies to what Esther was writing, while I was also writing this reply, about how no amount of Christian-imagination “teaching,” present or past, can make up for a rebellious human heart that is determined to distort and abuse God’s gifts of truth-seeking and imagination.)

I kinda worry about people who marry simply to, ah, ‘relieve the burning.’ I know it’s not true in all cases, but I’d be too worried that, with nothing else to found said marriage on, it’d quickly turn toxic and abusive (not necessarily physically).

I’d definitely worry about this too, yet I wasn’t referring to getting married only for motives of physical intimacy. Instead it’s a benefit. Yet we mustn’t relegate that, even implicitly, to the level of bonus-feature-we-don’t-make-a-big-deal-about. (Not that I’m saying you did this — I just know people who have, and I know I have before.)

Marriage should be based on deeper love and commitment to honor Christ first, yet it’s also greatly aided by resultant emotions/passions. One can certainly stay married without having those emotions, just as one can stay in a local church that isn’t driven by delight in Christ and the Gospel. But it’s far better to have the delight and joy. In fact, it’s a Biblical command for a Christian marriage/church to have those.

The same is true for Christian imagination: it’s based on truth, and desire to honor Christ, and yet fueled by and echoed by our resultant emotions/passions.

I don’t really know that Paul was talking strictly about people who couldn’t control themselves; he elsewhere talks about self-control within the marriage bonds, so he clearly seems to think that can go badly.

Nonfiction rises again! But of course I enjoy that just as much. Here’s the passage, 1 Corinthians 7, written in the context of a local church with a lot of immorality and other disgusting stuff going on. Lots of controversies here, and not everything is clear (especially the chapter’s latter half, about the time being short, and people may stay single or get married, and is it a father/fiance marrying his betrothed or marrying off his daughter or whatever?). But the earlier parts are clearer, such as verses 8 and 9:

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Burn with passion isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. It’s legitimate desire to be with the other person, to be intimate, in all ways — emotionally, physically, even “spiritually” in a way. Better to get married sooner, Paul says, than delay it and stay single, because if you do have those desires, they’re legitimate and mean you should get married if you can. And he does make it clear: not “exercis[ing] self-control” here is not a sin. Getting married is also not a sin, though Ministry reasons might exist for why you might not.

I’m still not wild about this use of ‘imagination,’ btw. It seems to be trying to hybridize the creative realm of fiction and the inventive ways in which we deceive ourselves. I suppose it’s a difference of scope, but I really don’t want to be using the term interchangeably.

Again, it’s the difference between imagination abuse and real, God-glorifying use of imagination. But I can understand not wanting to confuse the terms. You’re right — creative self-deception the way Camping and his followers have done is not at all on the same level as glorious, God-delighting “subcreator”-style imagination. It’s like saying a pedophile is “in love” with those he abuses in the same way a Godly or even decent husband and wife are in love. I’ll make the distinction more clear in the future.

Plus, it seems to legitimize his bad theology by putting it in the same category as speculating the end times.

Not my intent, though, which is why I targeted how Camping corrupted truth first and then abused his gift of imagination secondarily. Any use of imagination should be based on truth — a topic I hope to explore more in the next parts of this series.

It’s one thing to imagine a world in which Christ didn’t come, or in which the rules were different. It’s quite another to set out to change those rules.

… Change the rules for this world — exactly.

That’s why I still, even as an attempting doctri-nerd who after the whole Camping debacle wants to turn into an Amillennialist just for spite, have some appreciation for the much-maligned (often unfairly) Left Behind series. Authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins weren’t saying Christ could come in our era (or the mid-90s, when the series began). They were asking a very speculative question: what if He did, and in this way? What would it look like? That’s completely legitimate use of imagination, and I believe they made it clear they were speculating. (Whether they did a good job writing, or people understood that, or had their own date-setting impulses fed, are other issues.)

I think I could give him any novel I wanted and it wouldn’t by default prevent him from thinking what he wanted or change his mind. Books may influence theology, but they can’t create them.

Amen times ten. But — still speculating here — if one could time-travel back decades ago when Camping was still acting more orthodox, to change history, and had some assurance that both time and people could be rewritten, I do believe that exposure to Christ-influenced imagination done right could have helped. But absolutely, that would be secondary to the main need for his sinful impulses to be changed from the inside-out, and ultimately only the Holy Spirit can do that.

Camping’s primary problem is (I believe this is proven even more true now) spiritual arrogance, sourced by an unregenerate heart. He doesn’t act saved. If he dies in this condition, he’ll have proved that he never was saved. Christians don’t act like this and make a practice of sinning, without repenting. (Source: 1 John.)

So yes, absolutely, only giving him fun novels — the best stuff Christendom has come up with, even by the Patron Saints of Christian Visionary Fiction, Lewis and Tolkien — would not have helped at all. I hope I never gave the impression I thought otherwise.

In fact, for all we know Camping knew about Christian imagination done right and overtly rejected it — just as he rejected the truth in the church where he used to be, and which did its job by disciplining him (yes!) when he started going off the rails, after which he (of course) decided the Holy Spirit had left the churches, and salvation was no longer available inside even orthodox-believing Gospel-driven churches.

You know, I stopped reading some sci-fi/fantasy because it was doing weird things to me? And you know, I have a friend who can’t read This Present Darkness because of her  previous dabblings in the occult. She just doesn’t think it’s a good idea. This line of thought would insist she read it.

I’d say that would be a distortion of my thought: wanting the results, but not the heart-level change that must precede it. Insisting someone hurl themselves into God-honoring imagination, without having the impulse to honor God in the first place — which can only come from repentance and acceptance of the Gospel — wouldn’t work at all. Not only that, it’s legalism: enacting another Do-This, without a Why.

Maybe that was an error above: I assumed the Gospel of repentance and faith in Christ.

I think if he had that part right, he’d never have done it. But it doesn’t matter how many books you read; that’s a matter of the heart. If the Bible doesn’t teach him, I don’t know a novelist on this planet who could. We’re good, buddy, but we’re not that good.

Agreed: not a chance. Not even the Patron Saints of Christian Visionary Fiction are that good. Even now readers claiming to be “familiar” with them will claim they said or meant things they never did (more recently, Rob Bell, totally missing the point of The Great Divorce, claimed it supports his beliefs in non-permanent Hell). So there’s no chance only great fiction, without a heart-level change that only the Holy Spirit could use to regenerate his spiritually dead heart, would have helped Camping.

Kaci Hill
Member

Some replies to Kaci — and Kaci, I’m agreeing with everything you said, yet you’re taking things in a slightly different direction, and either missing what I wrote about how all this imagination stuff is secondary anyway, and/or perhaps missing it because I wasn’t clear enough about that.

There’s a good chance I fixated. I had another friend read this,  and he seems to see whatever I’m missing for the tunnel vision. I got hung up on the use of the word ‘imagination’ and the parallel between bad theology and sexuality.
 
Oh, you added to the post. Going to read.
 

I hope I never gave the impression I thought otherwise.

It’s my job to poke and prod until I wrangle understanding from you. 0=)   Sometimes I do it because I know something can’t be what you’re meaning, and sometimes my brain overcomplicates things. I get it now.
Back to the comments:

Not my intent, though,

Again, I didn’t think so, but my brain wasn’t making the switch very readily.
 

which is why I targeted how Camping corrupted truth first and then abused his gift of imagination secondarily. Any use of imagination should be based on truth — a topic I hope to explore more in the next parts of this series.

 
Gotcha.

I’d say that would be a distortion of my thought: wanting the results, but not the heart-level change that must precede it. Insisting someone hurl themselves into God-honoring imagination, without having the impulse to honor God in the first place — which can only come from repentance and acceptance of the Gospel — wouldn’t work at all. Not only that, it’s legalism: enacting another Do-This, without a Why.
Maybe that was an error above: I assumed the Gospel of repentance and faith in Christ.

 
Haha. Man, I’m apparently mean when I push. 0=)   Sorry. Again, I apparently manhandled a bit. That’s the direction the line of thought took me. Doesn’t mean I was right. ::looks sheepish::

Okay, I’ll say more later.
 
 
 
 Edit: Whoa, that is some kind of edit box. 0=)
 
 
 

Kathrine Roid
Guest

So begins the series in which I’ll compare creativity to sex, and Lord willing, get away with it.

I really enjoy it when someone can manage not only to open fiction with an excellent line, but non-fiction as well.  Kudos.  That was a real hooker.
 
Well, while refreshing the page I found the addition to your article which pretty much says everything I was about to say!  If I may expound:  Leading by example is important.  Not everyone who sees the example will follow or even understand it, but many will.  We, as Believing speculative writers, have taken it upon ourselves to show imagination used in a Godly fashion.

Yet it would be easy to critique Camping without also considering: might we slip into being reckless with God’s Word, even while sincerely believing we seek to learn its Author’s intent?

Arguably, every doctrinal dispute has “sincere recklessness” somewhere.

And even if we don’t really believe our imagined scenarios are truth or go about spending millions to promote them as truth, do we let them trump God’s truth?

Might we, even with the best of intentions, sometimes abuse our imaginations for our own pleasure?

Can we let Truth fall to a level below our imaginings?  Yes, of course. Perhaps that is an issue of your view of Truth, and perhaps it is an issue of thinking to much of your own thoughts, but it is possible.
 
There’s a thick line between abuse of imagination and using imagination for our own pleasure.  I presume you mean, “. . . sometimes abuse our imaginations for our own justification,” which is also very, very possible.
 
You must remember imagination is a tool, and just like any tool, it can be correctly or wrongly, for good or bad, to build or destroy. Don’t expect anyone to agree on the definition of correct and wrong and good and bad and building and destroying.
 
However, I do not think it is possible to get to such a state if your intentions are truly in the right place, and you’re not ignoring what God has shown. I believe the best guard against abuse of imagination is to keep your focus in the right place.
 
On the other note:  The whole Camping situation is a mess.  Not only is it giving Believers a bad name, not only is it ruining susceptible people’s lives, it’s a cry of “Wolf!” for the end of the world.  One day there will be a rapture and there will be judgment, but with people like Camping making ridiculous claims about when those will be, many people are tempted to ignore the reality of Judgment Day.  There.  Rant over.

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