Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, March 28, 2016

One man's Social Imagination ~ Dr. David Livingstone

To begin, this post, it is necessary to mention Dr. Hugh Ross who wrote "Beyond the Cosmos" almost twenty years ago. In the chapter titled - Dimensional Capacities of Created Beings, Ross informs us of humans capacities. Reading page 118, we learn that humans are soulish creatures endowed with self-awareness and God awareness, innate moral and ethical standards and a proclivity for religious expression and exploration. Humans exist in God's given (to/for man) space and time dimension of the universe and yet He also gave man the capacity to venture beyond that given through an additional dimension - a spiritual reality (established in man's awareness of God) which allows man to go beyond the given temporal dimensions of  his temporal existence. Yes, men are subject to natural laws, social laws, and spiritual laws but the later only if he answers God's calling to that higher dimension (Ross: pg. 118).

One such person was called and responded in a way that most people would never imagine doing. Dr. David Livingstone... I presume. Even the name, 'Livingstone' suggests man being of the spiritual nature of God as in being His Creation.  I felt compelled to post about Livingstone because he was a man who fully embraced his God given human dimensional capacity.

David Livingstone was born at Blantyre, south of Glasgow on 19 March 1813. At 10 he began working in the local cotton mill, with school lessons in the evenings. In 1836, he began studying medicine and theology in Glasgow and decided to become a missionary doctor. In 1841, he was posted to the edge of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. In 1845, he married Mary Moffat, daughter of a fellow missionary.
Livingstone became convinced of his mission to reach new peoples in the interior of Africa and introduce them to Christianity, as well as freeing them from slavery. It was this which inspired his explorations. In 1849 and 1851, he traveled across the Kalahari, on the second trip sighting the upper Zambezi River. In 1852, he began a four year expedition to find a route from the upper Zambezi to the coast. This filled huge gaps in western knowledge of central and southern Africa. In 1855, Livingstone discovered a spectacular waterfall which he named 'Victoria Falls'. He reached the mouth of the Zambezi on the Indian Ocean in May 1856, becoming the first European to cross the width of southern Africa ~ bbc history.com 

The above except barely touches on his early begins as a child laborer, helping to support his family yet had a dream a huge imagination to become a missionary. It took him quite some time and struggle to become a missionary doctor. He went to Africa. He had many interesting encounters, successful ones and not so successful ones in his determination to convert native people to Christianity. Some might criticize him for being so determined to bring the Gospel to indigenous people as it would likely be disturbing the nature, shape and form of the encountered native peoples. And, he did.

It is a difficult discussion still today about the role of the missionary. Its says clearly in Acts 17 that God created all men and put them in their places in hopes of their reaching out to Him, to His call... One can question whether or not missionary pursue God's work or their own goals.

In our social imagination, a Christian social imagination, we know that God the Father our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and of all things in it... and that this light in us causes a stirring in our imagination one that is emotional and passionate ....for such is 'agape love' it is a social imaging of a great love for mankind, in that love we find His love, and in that discover a human capacity in us to go beyond the given... .

 Dr. Livingstone, I presume...


  1. bloom where you are planted :)

  2. Acts 17:26 and so as not to appear as a hypocrite...I should go back to where I came from but that's almost impossible now :-(