Tristan John S

Writer, Filmmaker, Musician

All human achievments are prolegomena at best…there can be no complete work, and this is especially the case in the field of theology
Karl Barth
For thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have struggled to talk about that which cannot be known. As we only know each other in terms of their relationship to us (son-mother-sister-friend-lover-teacher and so forth), so we can only know who God is pro nobis: that is to say, we only experience God in our relationship to Him as creatures.

Imaginal Theology is a term I coined for my Final Year Dissertation at Cambridge. It refers to my most ardent belief that, in order to speak meaningfully of God – who is radically other to us – we must employ our imaginations. This is not to say that we invent the divine – or, indeed, that we ‘imagine’ God in the way I might imagine a purple rabbit with yellow spots. Rather, we must tap into that faculty that helps us see beyond the physical to the metaphysical.
Thus: poetry, music, art and all imaginative disciplines are suited to the work of theology because it requires a sense of belief, of wonderment. It is diametrically opposed to systematic theology and, yet, can complement its project.

My intention as a writer is never to preach my own theology but my intention as a theologian is to enter into dialogue with others and I have chosen to do this through different forms of creativity. Of course, as Tolkien put it, man can only ever truly be a Sub-creator.
We have but faith, we cannot know / For knowledge is of things we see, / And yet we trust it comes from Thee / A beam in darkness – let it grow
Alfred Lord Tennyson