Prashanth Daniel on Art is Doxology

I was recently engaged in a conversation with a fellow-Christian regarding a mutual friend opening an art studio. On telling him that I was eager to check out the studio, he frowned with a quizzical expression and then went on to rant about the “silliness” of art and why people should not be wasting their time staring at “meaningless” pictures or “boring” works of art because there was nothing practically useful that could come out of it and thereby, it was simply a waste of time and effort. I laughed off his comment in the moment but later that afternoon I had to ask myself if what he thought was true.

Was art truly meaningless? Surely he could not have meant all art! Is there a latent silliness to art that gets washed over by overstated profundity? Have humans been wasting their time through the ages creating art for themselves and future generations?

The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that my “anti-art” friend was very mistaken. But he had inadvertently planted some self-reflective questions in my mind — What did Christianity have to say about the arts? Is there room for meaningful introspection regarding the overlap of theology and artistic endeavors? The late great philosopher and cultural prophet, Francis Schaeffer stated that, “The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.”

Art communicates (or at least attempts to communicate) truth and beauty. But my focus here is not necessarily to dwell on the “what” it is that art communicates but “why” humans have been inspired since time immemorial to create works of art. And I want to draw attention to at least three reasons (there are more) why art matters but why it must especially matter to Christians.

‘Creators’ Created by the Creator

When Christianity says that human beings are made in the image of God, it implies that we share certain traits with the God that created us. While there are traits that are unique to God alone (incommunicable attributes), there are other traits we possess that God also possesses (communicable attributes). The holy scriptures begin with the magnificent narrative of creation where God speaks reality into existence. He then steps back and calls it “good.”

This is primarily why humans do what they do when they create art — they are “creators” that possess the artistic DNA of their own Creator. We love to make, model, shape, form, chisel, carve, draw, paint and mold into reality, creations that we perceive as beautiful, inspiring or necessary. And we frame it, put it on a pedestal, in a glass case or showcase it at a gallery, precisely because we consider it “good.” While our art is certainly not immune from the effects of our fallenness (because there is such a thing as bad art), the impulse to create beautiful things is part of what makes us human.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Prashanth Daniel