Art and the Bible

One of my early influences as a Christian artist was Francis Schaeffer. His book, Art and the Bible, is excellent. Here is just a short excerpt from this book:

Christianity is not just “dogmatically” true or “doctrinally” true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life.

The ancients were afraid that if they went to the end of the earth, they would fall off and be consumed by dragons. But once we understand that Christianity is true to what is there, including true to the ultimate environment — the infinite, personal God who is really there — then our minds are freed. We can pursue any question and can be sure that we will not fall off the end of the earth. Such an attitude will give our Christianity a strength that is often does not seem to have at the present time.

But there is another side to the Lordship of Christ, and this involves the total culture — including the area of creativity. Again, evangelical or biblical Christianity has been weak at this point. About all that we have produced is a very romantic Sunday school art.

We do not seem to understand that the arts too are supposed to be under the Lordship of Christ.

I have frequently quoted a statement from Francis Bacon, who was one of the first of the modern scientists and who believed in the uniformity of natural causes in an open system. He, along with other men like Copernicus and Galileo, believed that because the world had been created by a reasonable God, they could therefore pursue the truth concerning the universe by reason. There is much, of course, in Francis Bacon with which I would disagree, but one of the statements which I love to quote is this: “Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences.” How I wish that evangelical Christians in the United States and Britain and across the world had had this vision for the last fifty years!

The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life — they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God — not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. And art work can be a doxology in itself.”

3 Responses to Art and the Bible
  1. Lisa
    October 6, 2010 | 3:13 pm

    In my classes and talks I’ve given, I often quote the last section of Schaeffer’s words here-
    “For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship Should(and I believe does!) take an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God-not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. AND ART WORK CAN BE A DOXOLOGY( expression of praise to God) IN ITSELF.”
    Our art brings praise and glory to God!! May we all be “under the leadership of the Holy spirit” in all we do , including our artwork!

  2. Janet Davies
    October 11, 2010 | 12:17 pm

    Using art to present the bible or a verse from it is one novel way. This is considered different to the tradition of bible reading and explaining the meaning behind the verses. Showing works of art depicting stories of the bible is a good way to get the message through.

    Jane Davies
    audiocreed forums – Indexing art,
    literature, science & philosophy

  3. shari
    February 3, 2011 | 4:18 pm

    I would like to also share a new Christian piece my husband just finished. It is titled, “From Fear to Faith” and is the first of at least 8 more Christian pieces he will do this year. http://fineart.howardlyon.com/blog-2/

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