| Re: |
I have been wondering why is it that most Christians are void of creativity! Even moreso I have been wondering why God seems to have blessed homosexuals with such creative talents.
That is one outrageous, crazy statement.
God did not bless homosexuals with creative talents, He blessed people with talents.
Who owns the networks? Who has an agenda to make homosexuality mainstream? They use Television and put the homosexuals on many of the home shows and art shows.
But please, many people that are Christians have creative art talents and use them for God's glory. They just don't blow their horn.
| 2011/5/28 11:59||Profile|
| Re: |
Like others have said, our Creator was quite creative in the designing of this world. The Bible says that God spoke the world into creation. In fact, the things that He created declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and that they were also the work of His fingers (Psalm 8:3-4) that cause us to consider Him (Psalm 8:4). Later, God inspired the creation of works -- like the Temple and the Ark. God is creative...and we were created in His own image.
So, the creative works of God were designed to capture our attention and declare God's glory. Likewise, the things that we create -- whether through music or physical work -- should be to do the same.
The great composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote, "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul."
Remember, the Psalms are filled with reference to skillful, musical creativity where God is the center and focus. David was "cunning" in his skill with the harp (I Samuel 16:18). An unnamed psalmist said that we should sing a "new song" and play "skillfully" (Psalm 33:3). I think that the inspiration for our creativity should be derived from Christ.
By the way, I love to explore in nature. Ever since I came to Christ, I have enjoyed just watching the sunset and looking at the stars each night -- because they do declare God's glory. During college, I used to drive alone to the beach just to pray early in the morning as the sun rose along the Texas coast.
There was just something about seeing the order to the world that God designed (like the ocean) that causes us to contemplate our place in God's will.
I love to go hiking and camping. We live in Northern California, and there are plenty of beautiful places to see. Brother Mike ("crsschk" -- one of our former SermonIndex moderators who lives nearby) once mentioned a road to me through the mountains to Lake Tahoe that almost takes my breath away for its beauty.
My wife and I often drive along the scenic, rural, ocean-side Highway 1 (near our house). There is a hill behind the Stanford University campus near our home where we can hike and see the entire area -- including the bay, the Redwoods and all of the surrounding mountains. We even recently trekked to the observatories on the top of nearby Mt. Hamilton -- but more to see the views than any of the 27 telescopes.
I even bought a nice wide-angle camera to try (often unsuccessfully) to capture all of these moments of beauty.
These things are beautiful to me because I know that they are the work of God's hands. He is the designer of this world and all of the order within it. He designed the stars, the Sun and the Earth -- and even all of the microscopic things within it. It is He who designed the "golden ratio" by which much beauty is measured.
As for paintings: We have a wonderful painting hanging up in our home. I think that, as a painting without words, it says so much.
| 2011/5/28 13:15||Profile|
| 2011/5/28 13:21||Profile|
| Re: |
I studied to be a visual artist at Goldsmiths College in London before I was converted. I havent found any use for the training since, to be honest.
When you talk about art and creativity in a western sense, then you are never far from the twin foundations of humanism and narcissism. They seem to operate together, interdependently. Art is almost always ego-centric, about personal expression...as for Bach and his "refreshing the human soul" error, that is just plain old humanist delusion, you know, we are refined because we have concertos, galleries, libraries full of books, more culturally advanced than the heathen etc, all prideful euro-centric anti christian delusional nonsense. Its the anointing that breaks the yoke, Christ in us the hope of Glory. Its His presence that heals, restores and refreshes the (redeemed and blood washed) Spirit of man. Music or visual art of itself simply cannot do it, other than breed pride, another form of godliness that denies the power thereof. Thats why God had to shed blood to redeem us, nothing, absolutely nothing else will work. Isnt it interesting that the big opera houses, galleries, museums etc (at least until recently, with the advent of internationalist modernism) were derived from the greek temple model...
My genuine and sincere advice would be quit fretting about how to produce art, or even wether or not to proceed with it. Rather seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and these things will be added to you, pursue God (I am sure you already are friend), ask Him for Fire and believe he will send it on you, tarrying it was once called. He has a plan for your future. It is exciting. Oh Lord when you start to experience the Glory of God you begin to wonder why such trifling details once had such a big hold over you....
| 2011/5/29 11:38||Profile|
| Re: |
Thank you for all your input, I really appreciate it. I relate positively to a lot of what was shared. I will respond with a personal testimony...
I was reminded of the time, some years ago when I repented and came to faith and trusted Jesus Christ and His Blood. It was a wonderful conversion experience that I thank God for even this moment. I was, at that time, working at an art museum, studying art and a practicing artist who was pursuing a very ambitious art career.
Initially, after my conversion, I felt to stop art completely. I couldn't see the sense in it in the light of eternity and my newly found faith. Later, God called me into full-time service as a missionary. In a sense I think I abhorred art but that did not rid me of the creativity that was within me. I probably felt that I couldn't serve the Lord and be an artist, which is true ... we cannot serve two masters.
But then, a few years down the line after maturing in my relationship with Christ, God started opening doors for me to produce art again. God later led me into teaching art at a mission school, and out of that He sent me to complete my art studies.
The most amazing revelation that the Lord gave me personally regarding my art was when He showed me the following...
I am in full time Christian service not for the money, but rather the heavenly calling of Jesus Christ on my life. He has an eternal claim on me.
Providing for my family is at times a great challenge in my situation. Sometimes I pray for money, and God sends art commissions. And this is how He taught me more about seeking His kingdom first and the rest will be added...
The lesson (Matthew 17:27)
When Peter came to Jesus with the problem of money for taxes, Jesus didn't do a miracle or just sent Peter to a stone saying "under that stone will be enough money for both our taxes". No, Jesus commanded him to go fishing and said that the first fish would have enough to pay his taxes and the Lord's. Jesus sent him to do what he knew, what he was trained and gifted in. But we must also remember the context with regards to what we are discussing... Peter had previously left fishing, after Jesus clearly said to him "follow Me" (Matthew 4:18-20). That was Peter's expression of "Seek ye first..." But, now Peter was fishing, because Jesus commanded him to do so. Under Christ's charge he went fishing. There is a whole sermon and teaching locked up in this passage, but no time for that right now.
In conclusion, art can not save or cleanse anyone, only the Son of God and His precious Blood can. With this said, art is not inherently evil. The devil might want us to think so. Art has a place in our lives. It is like the gift of music or sex. It is something made by God for us, for human beings. The issue here is how and why it is done.
God has given art to us for different purposes, and the most holiest of these is to reflect His glory, but even in that it is the spirit in which it is done, not the subject matter. It doesn't have to be about a Biblical theme for it to be God glorifying, or to hang in a church building. Art is also there for us to enjoy, for others to enjoy and appreciate what we as artists make with God's gift in us. Art is also a means to communicate, a language. And lastly it is a tool, a God given means to provide for ourselves, our family and His church. The same as the farmer would use his gift to grow and sell a crop for an income.
Isn't this maybe something we all need to prayerfully consider. Instead of letting believers whom God has blessed with a creative/artistic talent think it sinful or less spiritual, rather teach them a Biblical perspective on it. Yes, that art can become like any other idol... sport, movies, ambition, talents, money, etc. But, no it is not wrong in itself.
Such a holy thing as prayer was the very thing that revealed the sinful self-righteousness of the pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. It is not the prayer (or art), but rather the heart, motive, attitude and spirit in which we do it.
By this I do not say that God may not take gift of art temporarily or even completely away from some of His children, for whatever reason He feels fit. He can and may do anything that pleases Him. He surely has done it before.
Let us prayerfully, and in wisdom seek God in this area that has been neglected oftentimes in the past.
| 2011/5/29 14:51||Profile|
| Re: |
I find it helpful to think of the two extremes you mentioned (those who embrace art and creativity and those who find it unprofitable) using the Israelites at different points in their history as a metaphor. Let's think in terms of exodus and exile. We, as Christians, are aware that we are away from our true place with God, but how do we understand the nature of our absence from "home"? Are we God's people during the exodus... following directions day to day, constantly on the move, anticipating the end of our journey... or are we God's people during the exile... expecting to settle and stay for a time in a foreign land? One's mentality in this regard affects how one invests one's time. In this sense, is art (and other creative outlets and pursuits) a profitable use of time?
My experience with many Evangelicals suggests an exodus-mentality and the idea that art is not practical (unless it has a Bible verse printed upon it somewhere, making it an evangelical tool) and thus not relevant. The issue of time and utility is important because art requires leisure. By this I mean that time which is not already devoted to gainful employment, family, and other commitments is a necessity for the creation of art... it requires time that is devoted to nothing else. Add to this certain lasting puritan notions about how time should be used and about the vanity of art, and the relatively common Evangelical hang-ups on artistic endeavour become evident.
Perhaps an exile-mindset is more conducive to the creation of art. In what way are we, as Christians, held responsible for our use of time? One Israelite response to the exile was to settle and remain in the land, integrating into the community (while resisting assimilation). Would a Christian with such a mindset be more open to issues of art? Perhaps. This is not to denigrate in the least the efforts of faithful men and women who gave their time and money to the practical communication and application of the gospel message. What one can claim, however, is that such a mindset, in which souls must be saved today and today and today and I must constantly share the gospel, does not (in my experience) easily allow for the time that art requires. So is it worth it? Does art possess an inherent value that justifies its existence? Can the time and resources which art requires, as well as the money spent in the acquisition of art, be justified if, as it appears, there is no practical utility to such actions, and seemingly no growing of the Kingdom?
The best commentators on these issues are from L'Abri, with whom you seem to be familiar. I find a lot of what Francis Schaeffer wrote has not aged well... his cursory readings of important philosophers and theologians, and subsequent dismissal of said thinkers, betrays almost a smugness. The man, however, knew art and thought it important that Christians understand art. His pamphlet, "Art and the Bible" is still very good and useful. The Dutch art critic Hans Rookmaaker, who was connected with L'Abri and is featured in a number of the MP3s on the links you provided, thought deeply about Christian involvement in the arts. His book "Modern Art and the Death of a Culture" is a couple decades old, but remains, to my reading, the best word on the subject.
My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the arts are vital to humanity and to the church. The key, however, is to foster development and excellence in the arts. For this to happen, questions about the utility of art have to be ended. This is not meant to give artists a carte-blanche within the church, but it is a significant step towards growing the arts. I'll explain. Thoughtful criticism improves an artist, who should be able to justify the subject, content, form, and message of an art object. Justifying the utility of art hinders the creation and devlopment of art.
Questions in churches about the utility of the arts or of an art object can typically be reduced to a single idea: how can this be used for evangelism? Can this song/painting/poem/play/quilt/sculpture/dance/etc. be used to communicate the gospel message? Such questions imply a hierarchy of value, in which the more obviously "evangelistic" objects are valued more highly. The veiled message here is that such objects are of greater value to the church, to the kingdom, and to God. Consequently, objects that cannot be readily used for such ends are not valued. Pressure is placed upon the artist who is a Christian to produce what can be used in evangelism (or other church functions), which leads, in turn, to the bland homogeneity we see in much marketable Christian art today. Difficulty and abstraction are discouraged, while one is encouraged to conform (in painting, for example) to aesthetic trends and standards more than 100 years old (are you familiar with William Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood? These painters inadvertantly defined, through obsessions with realistic detail, the look of much contemporary, marketable Christian art), finished by placing a Bible verse somewhere on the image. Poetry, as well, is more highly valued if it is easily understood and uses Biblical language and phrases. Poetry which is difficult to work out, or not obvious in its message, or questioning of God, is valued less highly and, eventually, ignored.
Rookmaaker helpfully points out that freedom in Christ extends to the arts, and that the Christian artist is free to create whatever he or she wants without worrying about conforming to styles, ideas, forms, or fashions. Such freedom should be encouraged by our churches, who in turn are involved in the critical reception and interpretation of the work. Art is produced by an individual, but it speaks in a community. It is for our edification, improvement, enrichment, and enjoyment. It helps us to question ourselves and our world, helping us to understand our position in God. It challenges with external viewpoints while it encourages us in developing our own critical understandings of the work and ourselves. It reveals us to ourselves while it joins us to our communities. It is a vital aspect of human nature - the urge to create and express - and as such the art object is a second-order reflection of God. God's image, which we bear, is reflected again in art. As such, art can help us to see and understand God (or maybe this is just condemnable humanism?).
I'll come to an end here, though there is much much more to say. The arts are an inevitable product of humanity, wherever it be found. But they do require time and money, in the very least. Perhaps one feels that such resources are better spent on supporting missionaries, translating the Bible, and attending prayer meetings... and no one questions the importance of these activies. But why should such pursuits have a monopoly on being "spiritual" or "God-glorifying" or "acts of worship"? It shouldn't be controversial or divisive to say that some appreciate the arts and others do not - an assertion that implies no hierarchy nor labels like "refined" or "cultured". And for those that do appreciate the arts, the task is to critically work-out how the arts can be pursued in a godly manner.
For what it's worth,
| 2011/5/29 16:51|
beloved, that was a beautiful, well spoke, thoughtful post.
i do so love when the saints actually take the time to WRITE, their own words. Rather than cutting and pasting other's words and work....and even more so, when the words "yes and amen" i feel impelled to utter after reading such, Bless the fingers that typed such words.
i love you, in Jesus, neil
| 2011/5/29 23:54|
| Re: Aaron|
It is a vital aspect of human nature - the urge to create and express - and as such the art object is a second-order reflection of God. God's image, which we bear, is reflected again in art. As such, art can help us to see and understand God (or maybe this is just condemnable humanism?).
I have to say yes indeed it is condemnable humanism (in fact, as Mr Gurnall wrote some 400 years ago,
"The philosophy called humanism has long been a suitor to mans pride. It boasts in his natural strength and wisdom, and woos him with promises of great accomplishments now, and heaven later".
When you start to accept that an art object can reflect God, even in a "second order" fashion (to begin with), then you opened the door to image worship, iconography, idolatry and all the associated pride, and eventual spiritual corruption. A god that is made in mans image and revered as such.
A pattern emerges in Scripture, a connection between Israelite idolatry and Israelite bondage. Does God ever speak positively about images, idols, statues, asherah poles, baaals etc? Gideons decisive breakthrough step was to chop down the local asherah pole and burn it. Josiah and Hezekiah both had to break up the Israelites' images and idols before the temple could be cleansed and reinstated for sacrifices and worship. Its true that no object can "reflect God", although many religious forms of godliness would disagree. LOL look at the riot in Ephesus when the silversmith idol makers thought (knew, actually) that their trade was under direct threat because of Paul preaching the full on gospel around Asia. LOL when they kept chanting great is diana etc etc, it reminds me of the prophets of baal when they tried to confront Elijah when they shouted and hollered and yelled. The ephesians must have really believed that their statues reflected their god/s supposed glory. But Almighty God has the final word.
I went to Singapore many years ago. I walked around the old city as it was then, praying and witnessing, there was some real opposition and danger. One time I came across an idol carving shop district. Inside the temples they had small statues in glass cases. Interesting places to prayer walk! I thought where have I seen all this stuff before? Oh yes as a boy in Majorca, in a catholic cathedral, they even had the same incense sticks....
| 2011/5/30 1:14||Profile|
| Re: |
We must agree to disagree then, separating to closet and cathedral to meet God.
In response to your claims, I would suggest that the intention of the artist, as well as the audience, dictates whether the art object is used in a way pleasing to God or otherwise. I did not say that all art was pleasing to God or a reflection of his nature. Nor did I suggest that the object represents God or becomes God. There is an abyss that separates artistic creation and appreciation from idolatry.
Gurnall himself, from whose book so many have been blessed, took great and even artistic care in his use of words. He had read the Bible deeply, but he also read much poetry and the ancient classics. He is a master of creative prose and, though he was a puritan in his ideas, the essential creative impulse exudes from his words. I expect he wrote without it being too great a "suitor" to his "pride", or "boasting" in his "strength and wisdom", nor was he "wooed" with promises of glory. He wrote to please God and teach and edify others. I submit that other Christian artists can, in their own ways, try to do the same. Let those who enjoy the arts support them with encouragement, prayer, and even finances. Let those who don't do otherwise, as they see fit.
| 2011/5/30 1:44|
| Re: |
So, how would you reconcile music? It is encouraged in Scripture -- and it certainly falls under the definition of "creativity" and "art."
Yes, I do believe that there are selfish and even humanistic motivations for art. However, art encompasses many forms. Music, pictures, paintings, poems and eve photographs are considered "art." Roads, buildings and gardens are designed with creativity. Even the logo and layout for this website is considered "art" and takes a degree of creativity.
I have a difficult time concurring with the opinion that creativity and expressions of that creativity are intrinsically evil or humanistic -- especially since we are created in the image of God. In the Old Covenant, God had men fashion the Ark of the Covenant and Temple (complete with golden pomegranates).
Again, I think that it comes down to the motivation for what it is that we do. Our very lives are meant to be poured out for God's glory. This isn't limited merely to our sense of logic, but to our creativity as well.
| 2011/5/30 1:59||Profile|