THE THEOLOGY OF ART

Art and religion have always gone hand in hand, and always will as we use creativity to express our faith. Some of the most stunning artwork ever produced is on ancient scrolls and inner walls of Egyptian pyramids, artistically leading the souls of pharaohs safely to the spiritual realm, under the watchful eyes of their imaginatively fanciful deities. My faith is far different from theirs, and my theology of art is not very elaborate, but I've got a few opinions:

pyrography woodburning donwhite(1) First, we all have the creative spark–even those who vociferously deny it. I’ve taught art to a few people over the years who claim they cannot even draw a straight line. (Forget for the moment that a straight line is not art, and that artists use rulers as much as anyone.) Surprisingly (for them–not me), they found themselves creating something beautiful, something they felt good about that would hang on their walls for years. Our imagination–our creative spark–is part of our spiritual inheritance having been created by the Creator. It is part of the family resemblance.

(2) Secondly, my favorite image of God is that of Ultimate Artist. We’re overwhelmed by what we see around us (at least, we should be), and the deeper we look into space the more we’re impressed with the awesome beauty of nature. And if the natural world is this impressive, just think what the supernatural holds, with colors and images we can't begin to imagine. (However, see Pat Marvenko Smith's work. She does an excellent job imagining the unimaginable.) In heaven, I’m hoping God allows me a little space for a studio, with a myriad of divinely crafted colors and artistic tools.

(3) Lastly, creativity itself points to the Divine. I cannot account for our imagination by a “survival of the fittest.” The natural selection of Darwin doesn’t explain the source of creativity, much less any purpose for it. For me, it is easy. Whether it is music, literature, fine arts, or crayon stick figures, creative expression comes to us by nature because we’re all derived from the Creator–the Ultimate Artist.

May we not neglect our spiritual inheritance, but use the creativity built into us from the beginning.

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