Friday, 6 July 2007

An apologetics of imagination

The new issue of the Sydney magazine Case (published by the Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education) features articles by Richard Bauckham, Michael Jensen, Greg Clarke, and others. It also includes my essay on “An Apologetics of Imagination,” where I argue that “what Christian apologetics has often lacked is an ethics of apologetic discourse, a probing ethical investigation into the modes of speech that are best suited to apologetic dialogue.”

Against certain forms of apologetics, I suggest that “the task of apologetics is not one of rational coercion, but of imaginative invitation. It is the invitation to envision – or rather, to re-envision – the world through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ…. The fundamental mode of such apologetic discourse, therefore, is one of peace and freedom. It is, in the words of David Bentley Hart, a ‘rhetoric of peace,’ grounded on an awareness that the gospel itself has already crossed the closed circle of an ‘economy of violence’ and a ‘war of persuasions whose guiding impulse is power’…. It is precisely by resisting the irresistible – by choosing rhetorical peace over a rhetoric of violence and coercion – that we allow our hearers to be opened to the compelling imaginative power of a Christian vision of the world…. Such apologetic dialogue thus finds its goal in the authentic expression of human freedom and selfhood – in a fully personal response to the liberating message of the gospel.”

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