Imagination as a lens for making sense of the world

Cultivating a shared Christian imagination

Imagination has recently become a buzzword in theology, but Garrett Green is not new to the conversation. The essays collected in Imagining Theology, which span three decades of Green’s work, show how a “normative Christian imagination” enables Chris­tians to grapple with faith and the world with brighter and clearer vision. On a broader level, the essays beckon Christians to allow God to captivate our imaginations.

Green uses the word imagination in a particular way. Instead of “fantastic” or “fictive” imagining—like what a child does while roaming the woods looking for dinosaurs—he seeks to employ imagination “realistically.” He explains: "The realistic imagination functions throughout human experience, en­abling us to envision the whole of things, to focus our minds to perceive how things are ordered and orga­nized—in other words, it allows us to see what is really there, rather than just a blooming, buzzing confusion."

In other words, the imagination produces a frame, a lens, or a paradigm that prepares a person to make sense of the world. The realistic imagination, Green writes, provides “a means of gaining a better understanding of reality.”