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Sat Feb 17, 2018, 01:41 PM

Facts, Truth and Meaning

Excerpt from: Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Interview with Holly Ordway


Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms and Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.

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In my book, I’m making an argument for the recovery of a broader, richer understanding of the imagination. Reason and imagination are paired faculties: we need both in order to think about anything. In order to make reasoned judgments, such as whether something is true or false, we first have to have something meaningful to think about, and that’s where the imagination comes in: it creates meaning.

Thus, at its heart, an apologetics approach that is imaginative is one that is focused on the creation of meaning. So much of the time, when we use Christian terms or concepts in apologetics and evangelization, we’re using words that are empty of meaning for our listener, or that have had their meaning twisted or trivialized. When we talk about ‘sin,’ people think it just means ‘fun stuff that Christians don’t want us to do.’ When we talk about ‘heaven,’ people often think it means ‘spirits floating around on clouds.’ (I say this as a former atheist who thought precisely that!) If people think sin is no big deal and heaven is boring, then they aren’t going to understand what we say about these things – if they are even interested enough to listen at all. In order for our apologetics discussions to be fruitful, we need our words and ideas to carry real meaning for our listeners – and that’s where imaginative apologetics comes into play.

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One of the key points in my chapter on metaphor is that both figurative and literal language are modes of communication of truth (or falsehood, as the case may be). It is not the case that metaphors are somehow inherently ‘less true’ than propositional language. Scripture is packed full of metaphors, and we can only make sense of what the Bible says if we recognize that this is non-literal, truth-bearing language. Jesus is described as ‘the Lamb of God’: this is a true statement, but it does not mean that the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate as a baby sheep (we recognize that this would be a very stupid reading of the text). Rather, we see that this powerful image tells us who Jesus is, and what his mission is: he is pure, innocent, gentle; he is also the sacrifice for our sins. We can say all these things in propositional language, but it does not convey the holistic meaning of ‘the Lamb of God,’ in which all these different meanings are simultaneously present and taken in, through the image.

Metaphors, in short, are effective because they are potent (packing a lot of meaning into a single image) and because they are interactive (the reader or hearer has to engage with the image to grasp the metaphor). They are thus highly generative of meaning.

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Facts, Truth and Meaning (Original post)
yallerdawg Feb 2018 OP
edhopper Feb 2018 #1
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #3
edhopper Feb 2018 #8
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #9
edhopper Feb 2018 #10
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #11
edhopper Feb 2018 #12
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #13
edhopper Feb 2018 #14
MineralMan Feb 2018 #2
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #4
guillaumeb Feb 2018 #5
yallerdawg Feb 2018 #6
guillaumeb Feb 2018 #7

Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 10:12 AM

1. Yeah we understand

that Lamb of God is a metaphor. But is Son of God? Born a Virgin? Resurrected? The metaphors aren't a problem for atheists, Neither is a discussion of the philosophy of how to treat one another.
We don't question what "Lamb of God" means. We question the Trinity that the author embraces without question.
It's the question of what is actually true in the Bible? What parts actually happened? Do the religious just think God is a metaphor?
is this the best apologetics can do?

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Response to edhopper (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 11:39 AM

3. "...the author embraces without question?"

"Growing up, Holly Ordway was convinced God was little more than superstition, completely unsupported by evidence or reason. She later attained a PhD in literature, traveled the country as a competitive fencer, and became a college English professor, none of which left room for God.

"But one day a smart and respected friend surprisingly revealed he was a Christian. That sent Holly on a search for the truth about God, one that weaved through literature, aesthetics, imagination, and history. It culminated in 2012 when she entered the Catholic Church."

Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #3)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 04:10 PM

8. And today

she embraces the trinity completely. But I was sloppy with that sentence since she obviously questioned it at some point.
I should have said, it isn't the "Lamb of God" that needs any explanation. It is the question of accepting the trinity actually true, as she now does. This metaphor discussion is a sidestep for the real issues. I enumerated those.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 04:29 PM

9. Once you start on the path, everything changes:

"I had built myself a fortress of atheism, secure against any attack by irrational faith. And I lived in it, alone."

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"I was startled to find that Christian theism had significantly better explanatory power than atheistic naturalism, in terms of explaining why the world is the way it is, and in accounting for my own experiences within it. Learning more about the Incarnation and about God, the most holy Trinity, has further reinforced my confidence that Christianity really does make sense of the world in a way no other worldview does."

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"I don't 'believe' because I like the idea and want it to be true. I don't 'believe' because I think Christianity makes sense intellectually (although that was a necessary foundation to my faith). In fact, I wouldn't say that I 'believe' in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or that I 'believe' I have a personal relationship with Him: I would say that I know these things to be true."

https://www.christianpost.com/news/formeratheist-christianity-really-does-make-sense-46146/

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 04:56 PM

10. So she KNOWS it

even though there is no evidence. But it isn't because of her faith that she knows it. Why what evidence does she have?

That she thinks it makes more sense to her is a logical leap. And she isn't even giving voice to a vague "creator" as our member Gil does.

Christian theism absolutely does not explain the the world better than naturalism. It is that naturalism explains it better that Christians call upon faith for their belief in God.

Her statement about it is almost laughable.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 05:32 PM

11. She wrote a book or two on this subject.

She CAME to know it to be real and true - and self-evidentiary.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #11)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 06:05 PM

12. and so

Bertrand Russell, Carl Saga, Paul Kurtz, Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkinscalso wrote bookes about how this is illogical and that Christian theism is far from "the best" explanation of the world.

Writing books as a basisbof authority makes Bill O'Reilly an historian.

And again saying the Bible and the story of Jesus is true because YOU KNOW is hardly a argument at all. That is just faith.

Apologetics seems to be points made for believing to believers.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #12)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 07:03 PM

13. "Writing books" is not her basis of belief.

The books describe her transition from skeptical argumentative atheist to Christian believer.

The theist model of Christianity best fit her questions and experiences and opened the door to faith. Once you have faith, all things are possible.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #13)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 07:34 PM

14. apologies

I missunderstood what you were saying about her writing books.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 10:39 AM

2. Imagine, Imagination, and Imaginary All Have the Same Root.

The "image of truth" is not necessarily the actual truth, any more than the image in your bathroom mirror is actually you.

That said, the author of that looks like someone with whom I could have an interesting conversation.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 11:48 AM

4. "At some point, we have to say to the skeptic...

“Yes, this is very strange; but that is what we believe is true.” These theological mysteries, like the Incarnation or the Trinity, are not irrational, and we can understand certain things about these mysteries, but they are not things that we can fully comprehend. God is infinite; our human minds are finite. As soon as we fall into the trap of making Christianity something that is fully know-able, we are misrepresenting God and indeed the nature of reality itself. Why, after all, should the spiritual aspect of reality be simple, when physical reality is incredibly complex, as any biologist could tell you?" - Holly Ordway

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 02:06 PM

5. Agreed.

The mind of the Creator is as easy for humans to understand as would be the mind of a human to a single-celled organism.

But some humans are convinced that all is knowable, and that science will someday understand all. As good an example of faith based thinking as anything that theists believe.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 02:34 PM

6. C.S. Lewis made an observation that may elude some folks:

“We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.”

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #6)

Sun Feb 18, 2018, 02:51 PM

7. It is a part of the popular meme of "fear based religion" that assumes and requires fear as the

motivator.

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