Creativity, Orthodoxy & The Christian Mind
by Steven Faulkner
I grew up as an independent, fundamentalist Baptist and maintain respect for those who defend biblical truth and try to live thereby. They have a certain lively sense of orthodoxy. But occasionally, one bumps into the sort of “fighting fundamentalist” who, without sufficient caution or reason, drops visor, lowers lance, and rushes blindly upon anyone suspected of theological creativity. To such persons (though I realize they do not compose the whole fundamentalist camp), the sight of creative ensigns fluttering in the breeze signals man’s manipulation of a divine gift. They rightly argue for a Word of God “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” a “faith once for all delivered to the saints”; unfortunately for them, it is set like concrete and about as fertile. They fail to realize that although divine truth is indeed changeless, the Church has developed her understanding of that truth over the last two thousand years, and her expression of that truth varies with time, culture, and individual genius.
The human mind was created with this capacity for a godlike creativity. Creativity is at the heart of the human experience. We must not surrender its legitimate place to bombast and vituperation. We can no more shut out creativity than we can stop thinking. And thinking about God, a subject who is mysterious and transcendent, requires a great deal of creativity.
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Steven Faulkner teaches creative writing at Longwood University in southern Virginia. He is the author of Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts (2007) and Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss (2016). Both books are memoirs of father-son journeys that followed the paths of missionary priests: Marquette (in Waterwalk) and De Smet (in Bitterroot).
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