Saturday, April 15, 2006

Theology Of Art

Some notes from Agora KL forum conducted by Footstool Players' Colin Kirton.

We are created to live creatively and artistically because we are created in the image of a creative, artistic God. Exercising our creativity is an act of worship as well as an act of communication.

Nigel Forde:
Art is revelatory, not functional – a mirror, not plastic surgery.


The artist can play the roles of a...

Court jester – speaking the truth as he sees it, however uncomfortable it may be; sometimes the audience screams back at him, sometimes it sits shame-faced and silent.

Doctor – pointing out diseases, making prognoses. Bringing us to face issues we would rather bury, deal with them and find healing.

Guide – taking you on strange and beautiful journeys to places you never have found on your own.

Clown – showing you reasons for laughter and delight. See hope in despair.

A Christian worldview in our efforts means it is important that we see arts through the lens of creation, fall, redemption and character and purposes of God whose hand moves throughout history.

Redemption is Christ’s conquering of sin at the cross, Christ’s continuing work in our lives and Christ’s culmination of redemption in eternity.

Our art should reflect beauty in the midst of ugliness, life in the midst of death, dignity in the midst of disgrace, purpose in the midst of meaninglessness, truth in the midst of lies and excellence in the midst of mediocrity. (“It is good!”)

Levels of Christian artistic expression (Steve Turner)
1) Arts that doesn’t suggest any obvious worldview i.e. a playful ditty
2) Arts that dignifies human life and introduce a sense of awe
3) Art that carries imprint of biblical teaching that isn’t uniquely Christian
4) Art inspired by Bible’s primary theological themes
5) Art that depicts the unique Christian gospel of death and resurrection

The bible gives us wonderful case study of itself, a work of art that has inspired artists in every generation.

Look at how Genesis first portrays God as Creator, the attention to detail in the tabernacle and temple building, music and songs of worship in the Psalms, the honesty of Wisdom writings like Job’s, how people may need to be confronted with the bankruptcy of life without God before he is willing to even consider the alternative (Ecclesiastes), the practical wisdom of Proverbs, the graphic love poem in Song of Songs, the prophets inspire artists to prick the pretentiousness of those in power and injustice, speaking on God’s behalf through bizarre acts that provoke and shock like Ezekial, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea etc..

The artist must prophesy not in the sense that he foretells things to come but in the sense that he tells his audience at the risk of their displeasure, the secrets of their own hearts
(Collingwood)

Not to hit people with the truth like a bat and leave a bad taste in the mouth like a soap powder advertisement. But to puzzle, provoke and prompt the right questions as well.

Through the prophets, God seeks to recapture their imagination and hearts through painting pictures in the visions that were described, through picture words – his hopes for them, his worst nightmares of what was in store for them if they turned their backs on him. (Michael Card)

In New Testament, we see God speaks the final, living and luminous Word incarnate – Jesus Christ. A picture of drama where the word became flesh, Jesus communicates creatively through parables, stories and object lessons.

God’s art showing God’s heart.

Recommended Reading:

The Creative Life by Alice Bass
Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card
Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steven Turner
Art & Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts

2 comments:

sUdkeOki said...

great posting. a needed topic to consider for the artist and non-artists who are in Xt.

would recommend Francis Schaeffer's "Art and the Bible" too.

tis a late response. a friend just forwarded me the link to The Agora in Singapore.

if there's any mailing list u guys have, do get me on it.

thanks!

great to know about u guys~

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