Imaginative reading is entering the world envisioned by a writer. You are joining time and place through descriptive words and descriptive scenes. Sometimes, the projected world is ahistorical, but a true story draws us into it even more powerfully. Many energetic readers speak of imaginative reading as “curling up with a good book or reading for hours on the beach.” The reason we invest time in reading is due to our imaginations being applied. It is not very imaginative to read an instruction manual. The steps of assembling an item inform but they usually do not spark the imagination. Imaginative reading requires a narrative that draws the reader into the scenes. Content allowing the world envisaged in the description to come alive, almost to the point it is difficult to determine whether you inhabited the scene. Such stories are difficult to break away from reading. Page turners, as they say, are due to the captivation of the story being narrated.
If you have been around Hendersonville Church of Christ over the past two and a half years, you have been introduced or reintroduced to an imaginative reading of Scripture. In the summer of 2018, we had an imaginative reading lab one Wednesday evening. Maybe you recall our discussion of Scripture being multi-genre in nature. Scripture contains many different genres: narrative, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, gospels, epistles and apocalypse. Reading Scripture for understanding requires concentration and substantial mental exertion. Reading Scripture imaginatively moves our cognitive functions to the next level. We are reading for knowledge as well as transformation. We use our imagination to see, think and feel like a character portrayed in the text. We creatively imagine ourselves in the world of Scripture. Often this creative process involves elements of the story we must insert. Examples of embedded elements of most Bible narrative content might include items such as the ambient air temperature, the clothes characters are wearing, the color of people’s eyes, hair and skin, whether it is raining or bright sunshine conditions, the smells of the scene and other various normative life elements.
We say seeing is believing, but in Scripture, we must seek to see as we read. Perhaps the idea of imaginative reading is challenging for you. After numerous attempts to see, smell and hear elements of the story, you simply arrive at a mixed conclusion. This week’s posting has a suggestion for you. What if Scripture could come alive for you in a new imaginative way?
Cheryl and I have been blessed by the series, The Chosen. The series is free to anyone using a computer or a smart phone or tablet. What is The Chosen, you ask? The description from their official website says, “The Chosen is the first multi-season television series about the life of Christ, as witnessed through the eyes of those He impacted.” How fascinating! The show is constructed from the imaginations of the characters in the story that walked and talked with Christ Jesus. The Chosen allows us to see Jesus through the eyes of those who knew Him. Does the show quote book, chapter and verse for its enclosed content? No. However, you will hear a lot of recognizable Bible verses and the stories you know well from Scripture.
The Chosen will employ your imagination. Watch as you discover to see Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Peter, Simon, Matthew and Jesus in ways that will inspire your imagination the next time you read through the Gospels in the Bible.
You can kick-off your imaginative engagement with Scripture right now by visiting https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen.
May the Lord bless you and engage your imagination showing you the world as Jesus and His followers saw it.
Stan Wilson is a Nashville native. He is married to Cheryl and now calls her family’s retired farm in Mt. Juliet home. Stan and Cheryl met at David Lipscomb High School, and they married in 1992 at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ. Stan returned to Hazelip’s School of Theology at Lipscomb in 2016. He completed his Masters of Divinity in the Spring of 2019.