What do we mean by ‘theology’?
In the Creating Art from Theology curriculum (free on this site), theology is defined as …
- “‘thinking deeply’ about what the Bible, as a whole, tells us about the Trinity: ‘pondering’ ways theologians, historically, have interpreted what Scripture reveals about God’ and ‘living in light’ of God’s revelation of himself especially in the area of creativity.”
In The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, page 81, John M. Frame, professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando, FL defines theology as …
- “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”
What theology is not: A brief diversion.
- Theology is NOT a replacement for the Bible; it is not an addition to the Bible – no addition is needed.
- Theology is NOT a corrective for Scripture; it does inform our interpretation of it.
- Theology does NOT stand in opposition to Scripture; it is commanded by Scripture (Matthew 28:18-20; Titus 2:1, 7-8; 1 Timothy 6:3, etc.)
- Theology does NOT provide the answers for human needs; it demands that we look to Scripture for these answers. (See Frame, p. 81 for more on these ideas.)
And I love this about John Frame; he notes that …
- Theology is NOT restricted to academic form, rather is comes to us in the form of “exhorting, questioning, telling parables, fashioning allegories and poems and proverbs and songs, expressing love, joy, patience …” (Frame, p. 82).
A closer look at what we mean by ‘theology.’
This brings us back to the part of the Creating Art from Theology definition which says theology is ‘living in light’ of God’s revelation of himself especially in the area of creativity.” By this we mean …
- what we create is determined by our understanding/application of God’s revelation of himself – our theology.
- what is created affects others understanding/application of God’s revelation of himself – their theology.
When we create we give meaning/application to an idea that has specific meaning/application to us. Our rendering of the idea connects us with peoples’ lives and has the potential to impact the way they think, feel, and act. Likewise, our theology – our own understanding/application of God’s revelation impacts our art and our lives. In turn, the art (and lives) we create influence the way others understand and apply God’s revelation – their theology. So, that’s why theology is important to artists and everyone.
*A more important question is: Why is theology important to God? I’ll try to tackle that next time.
Try this Exercise
1. Read Psalm 98 below:
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity. (ESV)
2. Answer these questions?
- What is God’s revelation of himself in this Psalm?
- How is the artist to respond to this revelation? Why?
- How is anyone to respond to this revelation? Why?
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*Note that, in the above exercise, your explanation of God’s revelation and your response to it demonstrate your theology in this specific area of God’s revelation.
Frame, John M., The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1987)
Scripture taken from, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.