Night At the Museum

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“The new vogue for dialogue, satire and narrative history gave priority to story-telling, to the via rhetorica over the via dialectica; conversation, intution and empathetic imagination took over from logic, paradox from syllogism, open disputations in the ‘public square’ from magisterial pronouncements behind closed doors. These are not just matters of style and form. They point to a fundamentally new way of perceiving and presenting the truth” (Matheson, The Imaginative World of the Reformation, p. 28).

Normally, I just post these quotes without comment, but I have to say something here. When the Reformation broke out, as Matheson argues persuasively, it was a revolution of the imagination. It was not a matter of one dusty scholastic replacing another, but rather scholastic bores being replaced by the poets and prophets. This state of affairs describes wonderfully the first century (more or less) of the Reformation. Elizabethan Puritans, Tyndale, Luther, and countless others — these men were alive to the grace of God in everything; they were holy, and mischievous. Read over Matheson’s description of the Reformation again. Dialogue. Satire. Narrative. Story-telling. Imagination. Disputations that federal vision antis will not agree to. In short, the spirit of the reformation has broken out again in Reformation churches, and the curators are doing everything in their power to get these things back in the museum cases.

If there were to be another Reformation today, who would be the dialecticians resisting it? Where would they teach? Who would be the imaginative poets promoting it? What would they be called?

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