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Kerry Dearborn approaches areas of theology and imagination through a focus on the 19th century theologian and writer George MacDonald. MacDonald can be seen as an icon whose life and work open a window to the intersection of word, flesh and image. He communicated the gospel through narrative and image-rich forms which honor truth and address the intellectual, imaginative, spiritual, and emotional needs of his readers. MacDonald was also able to speak prophetically in a number of areas of contemporary concern, such as the nature of suffering, ageing and death, environmental degradation, moral imagination and gender issues. Dearborn explores influences which shaped him, along with the wisdom he has offered in the formation of significant Christian writers in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, W.H. Auden, Frederick Buechner and others attribute to MacDonald key paradigm shifts and insights in their own lives.
A study of MacDonald does not offer a formulaic approach to theology and the imagination, but the possibility of gleaning from his rich harvest relevant nourishment for our own day. It also provides a context in which to assess potential weaknesses in imaginative approaches to theology.