Seeking a Yoked Imagination
As some of you may know, for the last few months I’ve been putting together an art book entitled Visual Exegesis. It’s been a long process–much longer than I anticipated when I started out on it back in February! “How hard can it be,” I thought, “all I need to do is gather together some pictures and write an explanation of the exegetical process….” Well, it has been a challenge to be sure. But the work as been a blessing to me and my wife (who’s been helping to proof read) and I’ve already seen good, God-exalting fruit come from this project.
Ultimately Visual Exegesis (and really, the entire ministry of Full of Eyes) is about faithfully understanding and proclaiming the beauty of God in Christ as He is made known to us in scripture. That is one of the special burdens that I feel when it comes to making art….I want it to be scripture-tethered. God has shown Himself to us in His Word and if we want to see, savor, and sing of Him, then we will do well to be as close to His words as we can be.
Striving for a Word-Informed Imagination
Now, this doesn’t mean there is no place for creative and artistic imagination when it comes to understanding and exegeting God’s word. Our imaginations can see connections, link seemingly dissonant concepts, and discover new ways of expression or contemplation of truths. These sorts of things are wonderful gifts when it comes to studying and understanding the heart and mind of God made known to us in scripture. However, those same strengths of the imagination can lead to unhelpful, self-exalting, and heretical interpretations of the word as well….so how do we apply our imagination to study without harming ourselves and others?
One answer (being part of a faithful community of believers and being a student of Church history would be two others) is to realize that God’s knowledge of Himself and communication of Himself to us in scripture is more beautiful and compelling than anything our imaginations might create. The truth is, GOD has said it most beautifully….GOD has revealed Himself most perfectly. Our imaginations don’t take bland material and say it better, they take Beauty Himself–as made known in scripture–and try to say Him in helpful ways according to His own terms. We should strive for all of our imaginative conjurings to be filtered through the sieve of scripture, because only when imaginations are happily submitted to the authority of God’s word will they bear truly Christ-exalting fruit.
Imaginations and Oxen
Think of an ox. It’s a strong animal, and left to itself it could destroy an entire field of crops. However, when submitted to a yoke and the direction of the farmer, the ox becomes an invaluable tool for plowing and sowing a field. The ox’s strength isn’t diminished by the yoke, his power isn’t wasted by the farmer’s leading, rather those things are channeled and focused to accomplish far more than a wild ox ever could. The same is true for our imaginations. They are strong forces given to us by the Lord, and left to themselves they can make some huge messes (especially when applied to biblical studies). However, when they are happily and humbly submitted under the yoke of God’s word and are made pliable to the purposes of our Lord, then they become a powerful tool for the sowing of the Farmer’s Field.
My prayer is that Visual Exegesis, and the other resources created by Full of Eyes, would be the fruit of a scripture-submitted, word-yoked imagination.
As I type these words, the fourth physical proof copy of the book is in transit to my house. Once I get that and look it over, my sincere hope is that all will be well and I’ll be able to put the book up online within a week or so….until then, take a look at the PDF below. This is an example of a two-page spread from the book. There are 34 such pages in the finished product.
[UPDATE] Visual Exegesis is now available for purchase on Amazon or as a free PDF download. You can check it out here.