Artist and screen writer Brian Godawa used to revel in his ability to argue the truth of the gospel, often crushing his opponents in the process. In time, however, he began to realize that winning an argument about the logic of Christianity did not equal persuading people to follow Jesus. What was missing?
Through prayer and searching the Scriptures, Godawa realized that while God cares deeply for rationality, propositional truths were not the only, or even the primary, tools he used to reach people with his Truth. In fact, Godawa discovered that story, metaphor and imagery were central to God's communication style because they could go places reason could never go: into the heart.
In his refreshing and challenging book, Godawa helps you break free from the spiritual suffocation of heady faith. Without negating the importance of reason and doctrine, Godawa challenges you to move from understanding the Bible "literally" to "literarily" by exploring the poetry, parables and metaphors found in God's Word. Weaving historical insight, pop culture and personal narrative throughout, Godawa reveals the importance God places on imagination and creativity in the Scriptures, and provides a biblical foundation for Christians to pursue image, beauty, wonder and mystery in their faith.
For any Christian who wants to learn how to communicate and defend the Gospel in a postmodern context, this book will help you find a path between the two extremes of intellectualized faith and anti-intellectual faith by recovering a biblical balance between intellect and imagination.
"Godawa is one of the best thinkers on Christianity, art and culture writing today. His latest work, Word Pictures, encourages a much more holistic viewing of movies and TV, which in turn leads to a more complete understanding of the Word of God. His work will make you want to first reach for your Bible and then view (or, even better, make) art that engages the culture and advances the kingdom of God. He has also convinced me that I am a 'literarialist.' Read this book and you'll probably become one too."
"Brian Godawa is that rare combination of industry professional and serious intellectual who is respected by the academic community and the media industry as well. When Brian speaks, I make notes, because what he thinks matters. Word Pictures is exactly what the culture needs to hear right now. We've moved from a text-based culture to a visually based culture, and Brian's book is the key to making that transition. It's changed my thinking about understanding the Bible in a postmodern era."
"Brian Godawa's incisive delineation of word pictures in the aftermath of a collapsed modernity heralds a new, thoughtful, biblically postmodern perspective of movies and the arts. This is a biblically holistic perspective. As a Hollywood insider, Godawa is uniquely situated to assess both the assets and liabilities of today's major movie industry and to offer valuable suggestions to Christians for how they should interact with it. We all would do well to listen carefully to Godawa's well-honed argument and heed his advice."
"Accessible and engaging, Word Pictures introduces readers to the popular discourse among religious conservatives about visual culture in a mass-mediated society. The strength of Word Pictures lies in the author's fresh explication of biblical passages, 'literarily' situating them in both generic and cultural contexts and then drawing interesting parallels for thinking about contemporary popular art."
"Brian Godawa's book is an exploration of the literary nature of the Bible. It is a spirited and balanced defense of the imagination as a potential conveyer of truth. There is a lot of good literary theory in the book, as well as an autobiographical story line. Pervading all this wealth is a sense of the author's energetic mind. The thoroughness of research makes the book a triumph of scholarship as well."
"A timely corrective to those of us who would reduce faith to words and arguments, given by an author who uses words and arguments so well. In Word Pictures Brian Godawa manages to be contemporary without being trendy, faithful to tradition without being hidebound. It should be read by anyone concerned for the well-being of biblical truth in twenty-first-century popular culture."
"This book deserves, and will delight, a wide readership. Part autobiography, part biblical studies, part apologetics, part aesthetics, part historical theology, only a 'Renaissance man' like artist-intellectual-communicator Brian Godawa could have brought together 'word' and 'image' with such serene, soaring mastery. I'll be requiring it in my preaching courses."
"This is must reading for anyone interested in the huge question of the use of words and the legitimacy of images for theological and apologetic discourse. Brian Godawa has left no stone unturned. Moving insightfully through the Bible, Luther, Calvin, Tolkien, Lewis and, of course, films, Godawa lays to rest the many fears about images and imagination. More than that, he encourages Christians to get involved in the media, with a view to transforming them rather than hiding behind the safe wall of 'Christian art.'"
"At a contentious intersection of faith and contemporary culture, Brian Godawa offers what many of us have been calling for: balance. In a world (and often a church) torn by imbalanced devotion to either word or image, Godawa joins the two with a needed 'and.' He shows a well-developed literacy for both forms of communication, shows how the Bible incorporates both and challenges us to engage our culture creatively and redemptively on both fronts."
"Brian Godawa is that rare breed--a philosopher-artist--who opens our eyes to the aesthetic dimension of spirituality. Cogently argued and fun to read, this book analyzes the rich variety of literary genres found in Scripture itself. Godawa shows convincingly that God interacts with us as whole persons, not only through didactic teaching but also through metaphor, symbol and sacrament."
"At first blush, Word Pictures sounds like just another postmodern effort to destroy our confidence in propositional truth. It isn't. Instead of pitting orthodoxy and orthopraxy against one another, Godawa talks about the relationship of reason and imagination. We have overemphasized reason, he argues, when imagination is also a biblical means of communicating truth. The book brings balance to a difficult conversation."
"Godawa shows how the Bible uses both propositions and rich imagery, metaphor, narrative, and poetry--in other words, the language of the imagination--to convey truth."
Desideratum and Acknowledgments
1 Confessions of a Modern
2 Literal vs. Literary
3 Word vs. Image
7 Cultural Captivity
8 What Art Would Jesus Do?
Afterword: In Good Company
Appendix: Answering Objections