Monday, September 27, 2010

The Case for Imagination

Our family seems to be in the minority among Christian homeschoolers. Well, yes, in several ways – but there is one area that stands out most sharply at times: we encourage our children to read fantasies and fairy tales, and to play games that have “magical” elements in them.

We don’t advocate “spiritualism”, or exploration of anything scripture prohibits (we don’t even look at horoscopes and astrology, for instance), and I wouldn’t think of encouraging those who are against exposing their children to fantasy and fairy tales to change their convictions. I only hope to explain our own decision.Before you stop reading (although I know a few of you already have), let me explain why we draw our lines where we have.

First of all, we have carefully chosen this route because of a very important aspect of our faith. God is a Spirit – our triune God has a physical body in one part (our Lord Jesus Christ), but the other two parts of the trinity (God the Father and God the Holy Spirit) are part of the supernatural, spiritual realm.

Before I go on, let me define “supernatural” as being outside of nature, not “demonic”.

This spiritual, supernatural aspect of our faith is almost impossible for our minds, schooled in rational thought and anchored in the material world, to understand. If we only let our minds think on things that are natural and easily explained, then we are limiting our imaginations to what we can experience. Our understanding of God, therefore, is also limited to what our minds can understand – and we end up limiting God.

But by training our minds to think of things beyond what we can see, touch, hear and feel - training our minds to fathom the depths of what the scriptures reveal to us of the spiritual world – we can begin to imagine what God’s word tells us about Himself, His angels, Satan and his demons, and our role in God’s created order in both the natural and supernatural worlds.

Secondly, we have chosen this route for our family because we, as Christians, are in a battle. A very real, very serious battle.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

Our battle is fought in the spiritual realm as well as in the material. We need to have imaginations that can understand this, imaginations that can see beyond our own experiences to a bigger picture. We need to train our minds and imaginations to see the world as God sees it.

To do this, we immerse our family in God’s word, and expand their imaginations through stories that go beyond our own world – both true and fantastic. We cannot fight against that which we cannot imagine existing, so we imagine.