A Cursory Theology of the Arts

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Cathedral. MorgueFile. Used with Permission.Every third Tuesday of the month our elders from Bethel Church and I gather in one of our homes for an evening of fellowship, discussion and prayer. While meeting a couple of evenings ago we processed together the dynamics of the arts and the manner in which the arts can be a tool for making disciples. In reflecting upon a rich discussion with these wise men, several thoughts came to my mind. They are what I might call a cursory theology of the arts. Consider the following:

The arts within the context of the Church—everything from musical artistry to architecture to drama to creative writing, dance to photography to painting to set design, poetry to pottery to many other like things—unleash spiritual gifts and affirm personal wiring by God that is, by necessity, much different than my own.

The arts celebrate the greatest artist of all—the Triune God!

The arts within the context of the Church sanctify The Arts as a craft and discipline, redeeming it for Kingdom purposes.

The arts within the context of the Church build community, bringing diverse people together for a common, holy cause.

The arts leverage “story” for Kingdom purposes.

The arts capture the example of Christ Jesus, who used no end of artistic touch points in his ministry to put forward his Father’s values—parables, natural phenomena like withered trees and violent storms, metaphor, and so forth.

The arts capture the model of a plethora of biblical writers—both Old and New Testament—who used no end of literary devices and genres to communicate God’s revelation; things like chiastic structures or ballads or poems or songs (think, The Psalter) and the like.

The arts within the context of the Church echo the creative and artistic beauty mandated by God for things like the ancient wilderness Tabernacle, the Temple of King Solomon, the garments of the priests, the Ark of the Covenant, and so forth. Moreover, the arts within the context of the Church echo the creative ingenuity of ancient Christians, with the mighty cathedrals and stained glass and timeless hymnody, et cetera.

The arts within the context of the Church provide an appropriate outlet for the artist whose “heart” is “stirred” for the Lord’s glory (see Exodus 36:2).

The arts within the context of the Church invite and inject transcendence and mystery into our lives, prompting us to pause and process things far bigger than ourselves—chiefly the glory and majesty of the Most High God.

All of these things together help us move toward Jesus and create the space in which we can take many with us. And these things certainly reflect the beating heart of the Triune God who has proven himself to delight in those who “devise artistic designs” (see Exodus 35:32) for Kingdom work.

 

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