With just the smallest glance at some of the prophetic writings of scripture (such as Ezekiel’s primary vision of the wheels within wheels), the question easily arises as to the role of the imagination in prophecy. The question is a necessary one because of the implications that it brings;
1. If the imagination is involved in the role of the prophetic, then hard questions need to be asked about the source of such ‘imaginings’ and to what extent divine inspiration affects, or moderates it.
2. If the imagination has no role what are the implications for the creative arts, music and other present-day writings that are engaged as valid forms of prophetic ministry and communication?
It has been said that the prophetic must be imaginative because it is urgently out beyond the ordinary and reasonable. The task of prophetic ministry in the days of Israel was to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the culture around them. It carried with it a fervent anticipation of the newness that God has promised and would surely give.
Society by itself, even today (in its unconscious state of weakness), is unable to grasp by itself the revelation that God is actually the answer to all of its problems. The Church today, as God’s alternative society, is called to express this through its ongoing mission of preaching the gospel.
The key issue about the role of the imagination in prophecy is not its role in prophecy, but its role in the communicating what God has chosen to show. Such revelation is completely the work and initiative of God.
The Grand Design of God’s Will and purposes are never revealed as a result of human imagination, revelation comes only from God and imagination is a valid tool to help communicate the expression, idea or intention that God has revealed, after He has revealed it.
The implications for the creative arts and music as valid forms of prophetic ministry and communication are ones that have to be seriously considered because of the inability of some to discern, understand or acknowledge what is being communicated.
Not everyone understands the art forms, or understands what is meant to be said by someone waving a flag or banner in an annoying way, just inches away from their face!
The more serious thinker will be asking the question about how artistic work, dance, flag and banner waving can ever submit to the biblical scrutiny of ‘being weighed’ against scripture by other prophets, unless of course they were also artists!
More questions have been raised than answered, but they are worth musing over. Imagination has its part for certain, but only ever proceeds from the inspiration of revelation, it is never revelation of itself.
Which means there may always be better ways of communicating it than the way that we sometimes use!