“I can’t believe what you’ve just shared. I’m sorry, I simply can’t believe it.”
It was not the first time I had heard these words, but I was now hearing them afresh. My conversation partner, an inquisitive and intelligent individual, literally meant what he was saying: “I simply can’t believe it.” He was faced with the implications of Christian faith, weighing the myriad of ways in which his self-understanding and life situation would likely be subject to change. Biblical Christianity seemed to him in this moment truly unbelievable.
We are living through a renaissance of Christian apologetics. But often our apologetics have little effect. It seems time to recognize that for many with whom we interact, the chief obstacle to Christian faith is not so much a matter of intellect as it is one of imagination. Whether it is because of the divorce of imagination from reason such as the Enlightenment left to us, or because of conventional apologetics’ narrow preoccupation with rationality and proofs, there is at present little capacity to apprehend the meaning of Christian faith. Many of the not-yet-Christians in our life believe they already know what Christianity is and they are just not interested. Perhaps it simply doesn’t apply to real world struggles, questions, or longings. The result is that our neighbors are not connecting with the God of the Bible.
Apologetics ought to be rational. It also must be imaginative, sparking wonder and creating & informing desire. This fall’s special lecture series encourages an integrative approach to engaging in apologetics. Following the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, we will give thought to the relationship between apologetics and imagination as well as consider what an integrated apologetic might look like amid a wide range of topics. (See the Lecture titles and Workshop topics below).
At the Francis Schaeffer Institute we continue to believe that apologetics should always offer up a reasoned defense. Yet we recognize that reason does not function rightly without imagination informing it. If you are interested in the topic of apologetics or in better communicating Christian faith, then join us as a talented cast of women and men examine the place of imagination in relation to apologetics and model it across their fields of expertise. The result will be that together we will grow in our ability to engage more of the world around us in ways that will reveal the God of the Bible: the One who formed our imaginations and who calls us, with wonder, back to himself.
Director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute
Covenant Theological Seminary
Friday September 21:
10:00 – 10:50am Chapel: Jesus the Imaginative Apologist: Panel Discussion with Jessica Eswine, Dick Keyes, Denis Haack and Mark Ryan
11:00am – 12:15pm Apologetics & Outreach class guest lecture “Polarization and the Moral Framework of Modern America” by Dick Keyes
5:30 – 6:45pm Pre-Conference Reception: hosted by Covenant Seminary Admissions Office
7:00 – 7:10pm Conference Opening / Welcome
7:15 – 8:00pm Imaginative Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Need It Holly Ordway
8:05 – 8:50pm What Film Suggests for Christian Apologetics: Imagination, Story and the Gospel Denis Haack
Saturday September 22:
8:45 – 9:00am Complimentary coffee available in Buswell Library Foyer
9:00 – 9:10am Words of Welcome
9:15 – 10:00am Recovery: Tolkien as Imaginative Apologist by Holly Ordway
10:05 – 10:50am Humor, Irony and the Challenge of Self-Understanding by Dick Keyes
10:50 – 11:05am Break / Transition to Workshops
11:10am – 12:00pm Electives (Rotation 1)
- Vince Bantu: Must we Imagine Jesus as a White Man? Early African Christianity and Learning to View Jesus with Today’s Global Church
- Stephanie Hubach: Imagination, Disability and Gospel Relationships: Conduits for Creating Connection
- Tom Becker: Nothing is Not Sacred: Some Implications of God’s Unsettling Kindness Toward His Creation
12:05 – 1:05pm Lunch
1:15 – 2:15pm Electives (Rotation 2)
- Denis Haack: Leading Inviting Film Discussions: Continuing the Conversation Instead of Ending It
- Rachel Ferguson: Imagination in the Western Philosophical Tradition: a Select History
- Ned Bustard: It Was Good: Glorifying God through Art, Music, and the Theatre
2:20 – 3:05pm Limitations and Dangers of Imaginative Apologetics by Holly Ordway
3:15 – 3:30pm Conference Close by Jessica Eswine