A few years ago I felt the need to develop a small-group study for artists that would be appropriate for any art discipline and for any skill level. Creating Art from Theology was the result of that endeavor.
As an aside you may want to know specifically how the words, “art” and “theology” in the title are defined in the course.
Art – “the creative and skillful expression of thoughts, emotions, and attitudes that arise from deeply thinking about God.”
Theology – ‘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.”
The Creating Art from Theology Curriculum is Free
The overarching goal of the course as stated in both the Artist’s and Leader’s Guide is to encourage artists “to produce art pieces or works based on biblical truth for the purpose of raising affections that will glorify God.” The actual production and critique of real art works are important pieces of the course design. Public viewing of the art produced by study group members, though optional, is strongly encouraged.
The artistic process developed in the course is represented by the acronym “RE-SPLICE” to imply
an untangling of one thing from another so that it can be entwined with something more desirable.
So each lesson in the course is meant to encourage “artists to untangle their art from things that have no eternal value and ‘RE-SPLICE’ it with concepts that point others to God’s glory.”
The “RE-SPLICE” process is described below:
- research the concept by exploring biblical passages that express the concept, definitions of the concept, historical thought about the concept, and challenging questions arising from study of the concept.
- examine the concept’s attributes through engagement with analogies, examples, and comparisons.
- supply ideas for artistically portraying the concept.
- pick an idea and modify an idea.
- list steps needed to make your idea a reality.
- invent an artistic work or a portion of a work that portrays the concept.
- critique the portrayal of the concept in artistic works.
- edit the art as needed to improve the portrayal of the concept.
All that follows is a small excerpt from the “Research” portion found in Lesson 2: “God, the Father: Who is Love” of the Creating Art from Theology study. If you are an artist or know one, I hope that this excerpt will give you a flavor for the theology part of study so that you may consider recommending it to artists you know or using it yourself as an encouragement to create art that glorifies God.
God’s Saving Love
Statements such as, “God is a gentleman,” sometimes made in reference to God’s saving love, are meant to exalt and favor God’s love but may end up negating God’s wrath and his sovereignty to do so. God is love, but God is also holy and just and, therefore, exerts wrath against sinners. God is love, but God is also sovereign and leaves some to perish. How can these statements be reconciled?
How can God’s saving love exist with God’s wrath?
And these two are one. God’s wrath is a form of God’s love; God hates because He loves.21 -Alexander MacLaren
God is holy,righteous, and just; therefore, Romans 1:18 tells us that God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. 1 John 4:10 tells us that the exemplar of what love is can be seen in God’s act of sending his son, whom he loves, to a people he loves to be the propitiation (wrath-bearer) for sins. And 1 John 2:2 tells us that this propitiation was for the sins of the peoples of the whole world.
So, here we see God’s wrath and God’s love both directed toward people he made. John 3 tells us that God loves the world in such a way that he gave his Son (v. 16) so that whoever believes in him (v. 16) and, therefore, obeys (v. 36) will have eternal life.
Conversely, those who do not obey will remain under God’s wrath (v. 36). So we see again, there is saving love for some because God is love23 and, simultaneously, there is wrath for others because God is holy, righteous, and just.24
How can God’s love in saving be reconciled with God’s sovereignty?
Divine Sovereignty is not the Sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good!22 – A.W. Pink
Simply put God’s sovereignty refers to his ability to freely do as he pleases without constraint.25 No one and nothing can thwart God’s plans, purposes, and designs.26 He controls all things and upholds all things.27 Nothing happens without God’s consent or knowledge; he is never caught off guard or by surprise.28 This includes our salvation.
Ephesians 1:3-6 and 2:4-10 tell us that, because of God’s great love for us, he chose us to be his children before he even formed the earth. This was not our doing so that God will get all the glory, honor, and praise he deserves. God, who has no need of our love, freely pursues us who blatantly rebel against him29 – this is true love.
Moreover because God is the One who saves us, we do not have to worry that anything can separate us from him because he loves us so much.30 He calls us to himself31 – we are his.32
Related Blog Posts
21 Alexander MacLaren,(1826-1910),“How to Dwell in the Fire of God,” in Exposition of Holy Scripture: Isaiah and Jeremiah, point 1, (London: Hodder & Stroughton,1905), Christian Classics Ethereal Library ©, http://www.ccel.org. Also see, Ps. 59:10; Ps. 143:12;Isa. 16:3-5; Ezra 8:22.
22 Arthur W. Pink, “Our Attitude Toward His Sovereignty,” in The Sovereignty of God, chap. 10, point 5,(1919,reprinted GrandRapids: MI: Baker Books, 1984). Citations are from the 1919 version, Christian Classics Ethereal Library ©, http://www.ccel.org. Also see Nehemiah 9:20; Ps. 68:10; Ps. 73:1; Ps. 109:21; Ps. 143:10; Mark 10:18;Tit. 3:3-7
23 1 John 4:7-8
24 Isa. 5:16; Eph. 4:24;Rev. 15:4
25 Ps. 115:3
26 Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11
27 Col. 1:15-17;Heb. 1:3
28 Verses like Acts 2:22-23 confirm God’s foreknowledge. Some take verses like Jer. 19:4 out of context and argue that they demonstrate limitations to God’s knowledge and thereby limit or deny God’s sovereignty. However, God’s knowledge is not limited (see Lev. 18:21 and Deut. 18:10 in the case of Jer. 19:4). Also see John Frame, The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002), 2:499 for a thoughtful discussion of Jer. 19:4 and God’s foreknowledge. See chapter 24 of the same book for discussion of God’s sovereignty. For a related online discussion, see John Piper, “Is the Glory of God at Stake in God’s Foreknowledge of Human Choices?” (© Desiring God, July 3, 1998), http://www.desiringGod.org
29 Hos. 11
30 Rom. 8
31 Acts 2:39
32 John 10:14