Imagination Leading to Faith

If you read Lewis, the idea of imagination leading to faith is richly woven into nearly all his work. He certainly imagines Heaven in The Great Divorce and hellish battles in Screwtape Letters. The idea of holding at bay all you know in order to believe afresh, could be, in some ways, the Twitter line for the entire Narnia series.

But I was struck again by the obvious. If you read The Weight of Glory or Mere Christianity or any of his non-fiction, he gets to the conclusion of Jesus and a God-centric world through imagination. Sure, there is logic and doctrinal claims, but his main defense is to basically lead you into the story of faith.

For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.  (The Weight of Glory)

The story of faith is something Lewis connects with the ancients myths as pale reflections to the true God-man who came and fulfilled all the longing in those texts. In his discussion of modern science and all its exactness and clean lines (or want for them), Lewis says that we are “inveterate poets.” who are awakened by the massive amount of stars in the sky and strike cords of reverence because we must.

The silence of eternal spaces terrified Pascal, but it was the greatness of Pascal that enabled them to do so. When we are frightened by the greatness of the universe,  we are (almost literally) frightened by our own shadows: for these light years and billions of centuries are mere arithmetic until the shadow of man, the poet, the maker of myth, falls upon them. I do not say we are wrong to tremble at his shadow; it is the shadow of an image of God. But if ever the vastness of matter threatens to overcross our spirits, one must remember that it is matter spiritualized which does so. (“Dogma and the Universe” in God on the Dock)

So often we try to nail down faith and nail it to the solid following of rules, regulations and proper doctrine. If it’s not this, we loosen faith to a point that informality never is harnessed with the beauty of liturgy and the strength of history. Lewis seemed to understand that Christianity needs a rootedness in ancient stories and rhythms, Christian tradition and history, all tinged with the fresh air of looking at that beam of light that shines through the door in ways that ground some of the levity.

Lewis provides another glimpse at how to approach faith in full awareness that we cannot hold it entirely in our hands, that we must imagine it and creatively stab at knowing the great God who invites us to such a dance.

This is only a brief observation, and not an original one at that. I invite your responses. How do you reflect on the majesty of creation and embellish it with imagination? Do you feel Lewis is too strong in his consideration of the creativity of the Christian faith versus the dogma of the faith? How do you see these two running side-by-side?

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