Saturday, May 08, 2010

God's Delight in Art

Tony Reinke has an excellent article on the role of art in the Christian life, it is called: Does God delight in non-Christian art?

Quick summary of his point: Yes!

He builds his argument on three foundational assumptions:

(1) The origin of the human artistic impulse cannot be humanly explained. ~ In comparing theories on the origin of art 19th century Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck wrote, ". . . we must accept an original human impulse and an urge that we cannot explain from other inclinations or activities” (
Essays, page 252-253). Exactly. There are many factors that influence the artists, but nothing can explain the origin of the artistic impulse. We are born with it.

(2) The artistic impulse is spiritual. ~ Again Bavinck writes, "with the sense of beauty, we are dealing with a phenomenon that is part of human nature: a predisposition and susceptibility of the soul to find pleasure and to enjoy oneself in things that fulfill certain conditions” (Essays, page 251).

(3) The artistic expression of man is a reflection of God’s artistic expression in this world. ~ Abraham Kuyper has written, “The world of sounds, the world of forms, the world of tints, and the world of poetic ideas, can have no other source than God; and it is our privilege as bearers of his image, to have a perception of this beautiful world, artistically to reproduce it, and humanly to enjoy it” (Lectures, 156-157). The world is populated by artists because God is The Artist.

Reinke's concluding points are worth archiving, he writes:

It seems to me that until we are open to this idea that God delights in the display of beautiful art by the non-Christian, we will find it difficult to glorify God through the art we see. This is specially true in the artisans who are not Christians, who bear the marks of their Creator while remaining under the guilt of their sin, and who are in desperate need of a Savior.

So here’s a brief summary of what I have learned over the months in reading on this topic:

1. The artistic gift in man is intrinsic.

2. The artistic creativity of God is on display in his creation.

3. The human artistic impulse is, at least in part, a reflection of God’s image.

4. God delights in Himself and therefore delights in the reflection of his own character, artistic beauty being one reflection of Him in our culture.

5. Non-Christian artists, while remaining in a state of enmity with God, will never achieve their fullest artistic potential.

This perspective offers the Christian a wide foundation for the appreciation of non-Christian art in these ways:

• It will open our eyes to God’s common grace in the art around us.

• It will remind us that in every gifted artist we see a reflection of The Artist, the source of all goodness, truth, and beauty.

• It will help us appreciate the gifts of non-Christian artists and the beauty of non-Christian art.

• It will protect us from glorifying the glittering mirrors rather than the Sun.

• It will remind us that the artistic potential of non-Christians, no matter how great, is tragically limited.

• It will remind us that while there is beauty in non-Christian art to be enjoyed, art is not a “neutral territory” that should be pursued without a concern for God and truth.

• Finally, it will remind us that God’s highest purpose for art is beautiful work that flows from an artist who lives and works under the fear of God and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and expresses that artistic talent with the goal of bringing glory to The Artist.

You can also download a PDF of the entire article here >>

3 John 8
Bill H.

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