“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what [God] is doing. [God] is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently [God] starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is [God] up to? The explanation is that [God] is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but [God] is building a palace. [God] intends to come and live in it Himself.”
11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
In his landmark book The Philosophy of Moral Development, Lawrence Kohlberg sought to integrate reason and faith as the latter’s evolution of the former. He recognized the shortcomings of his model and later added a seventh stage making room for what he called “religion.” He struggled to explain how children grew to evolve morally, and ultimately attributed (at least part of) it to the shift from imaginary to imaginative thinking.
As Ken Kovacs wrote in his book Out of the Depths:
My mentor at Princeton Seminary, James Loder (1931-2001)—who was also a huge C. S. Lewis fan, who sketched images of Aslan for his children—suggested that we need to make a distinction between the imaginary and the imaginative. Something that is imaginary takes you out of the world, out of reality; it’s a flight of fancy, often escapist. An imaginative act, on the other hand, is an entirely different faculty. It was the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) who understood imagination as the capacity instar omnium, meaning equivalent to all in importance. As a faculty of the self, imagination has the capacity to create, order, and reorder the world. The imaginative act, thought, or word has the power to put you more deeply into the world, into a world transfigured, into the real.
Is your faith more imaginary or imaginative?
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Kenneth E. Kovacs is pastor of the Catonsville Presbyterian Church, Catonsville, Maryland, and has served congregations in St. Andrews, Scotland, and Mendham, New Jersey. Ken studied at Rutgers College, Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, and received his Ph.D. in practical theology from the University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland. He is also an analyst-in-training at the C. G. Jung Institute-Zürich. Author of The Relational Theology of James E. Loder: Encounter & Conviction (New York: Peter Lang, 2011) and Out of the Depths: Sermons and Essays (Parson’s Porch, 2016), his current research areas include C. G. Jung and contemporary Christian experience. Ken has served on the board of the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, is a current board member of the Presbyterian Writers Guild, and a book reviewer for The Presbyterian Outlook.
Ken’s weekly sermons at CPC can be found at http://kekovacs.blogspot.com/
D I G D E E P E R
A concept associated with the Third Wave of psychology, developmentalism, and theorists Piaget, Kohlberg, Fowler, and others. This framework for understanding human behavior describes various strata or stages of growth. Stratification emphasizes the value of humans as thoughtfully and purposefully interactive with their environment.
Distinctive patterns of behavior and thought are empirically observed in various domains at each strata. Physical, cognitive, affective, social, moral decision making, and spiritual development have all been observed as progressing through sequential strata. Based on the conclusion that humans are more similar than dissimilar, each strata is a level of temporary destination that should be fully explored and experienced before the individual progresses to the next stage.
Environment can be instrumental in facilitating or slowing the development inherent in human genetic structure. Each strata is experienced in invariant and sequential patterns. Stages exist across cultures, genders, and eras of time though timing may be different within these variables.
P. G. Downs (1994), Teaching for Spiritual Growth: An Introduction to Christian Education; J. E. Loder (1976), Foundations for Christian Education in an Era of Change, p. 31. Michael J. Anthony et al., Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 669–670.