Saturday, August 18, 2012

Art and Theology

“Storms at Sea,” painting by Irene Pruitt, © 2004

The arts are an important part of being a Christian and a very important part of being human, shaping culture and being stewards of creation in this world.

Often Christians neglect the arts.  This neglect stems from fear, poor instruction about the arts, a misunderstanding of the arts and a bad theology of the arts.  Because of this neglect and fear of the arts, Christians should seek understanding through a Biblical worldview and theology of the arts from the scriptures. 

As Christians, we should have a solid Biblical theology of creation’s intended state of goodness.  We should also look at creation as the work of art that it is, with God as The Great Artist, and we should see that creation communicates God (see Psalm 8, Psalm 19, and Romans 1:19-20).

Philip Graham Ryken says, “The calling of artists reflects a deep truth about the character of God, namely, that He Himself is the supreme Artist.  We know this because the very first thing God does in the Bible is to produce creative works of art (see Genesis 1-2).” 

Believing that creativity and the arts communicate, we should look at the theology presented in various forms of artwork.  We should be reading about the arts, be aware of how we are creating art in our own lives, and be educated in the arts and in our critiquing of the arts.  In short, Christians should be participators in the arts.

If we do this, our fears, misunderstandings, and apprehension toward the arts will turn into an appreciation of the arts through a proper understanding and a Biblical theology of the arts.  This will also free us to pursue our art and champion the arts in the church and in the world to God’s glory.

A great resource to begin a deeper understanding of the arts and to develop a Biblical worldview and theology of the arts is Francis Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible.  Francis Schaeffer has some profound insights into the arts, into the Bible, and into theology in the arts.  "The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Schaeffer. "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God."

Another great resource to foster a deeper understanding of the arts and to develop a Biblical worldview and theology of the arts is Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts, by Philip Graham Ryken

Art for God’s Sake is a simple, straightforward and easy to read book about recovering the arts and restoring them to their right place in God’s kingdom, for God’s kingdom purposes, and to God’s own Glory. In his book, Ryken says, "Christian art is redemptive, and this is its highest purpose. Art is always an interpretation of reality, and the Christian should interpret reality in its total aspect, including the hope that has come into the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

May we enjoy exploring the arts as the “things of beauty” they are “to the praise of God.”  May we participate in recovering the arts to the glory of The Artist Himself.

To explore the subject of art and theology further, I have written an article addressing the Christian’s engagement in the arts.  This article, “Theology and Art,” can be found at here.  


  1. Couldn't agree more. Nice post.

  2. Cool, Robbie. I have never, ever been one to ignore art. I have always been drawn deeply, even to the bizarre and edgy. I appreciate the creative drive, given to all of us humans from God, to express these gifts in all sorts of ways.