Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Lecture Outline for Next Week

Christian Ethics and Modern Culture, Spring 2012

Francis Schaeffer,
Art, and the Bible—with reference to Rouault and fujimura

I.             Forms of Art in the Bible

A.   The Lordship of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1-2)

1.   No false dichotomy

Spiritual/sacred: the soul (good)
Material/secular: the body (bad or indifferent)

2.   Four principles

a.    God made the whole person, body and soul

Creation mandate: Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8

b.   In Christ, all is redeemed: physical and spiritual

c.    Christ is Lord of the whole person and all of culture.

B.   Intellectual form and freedom and adventure (16-17)

C.   Francis Bacon quote on religion and culture (18)Future redemption of the whole person (Revelation 21-22)

D.  No graven image (Exodus 20:4-5)

1.   Forbids worshiping images, not making image (of what?): Lev. 26:1

2.   Westminster Catechism: all images of God forbidden. See J.I. Packer’s discussion in Knowing God

E.   Art and the Tabernacle

1.   Representative art “according to the pattern” revealed

2.   Types of representations

a.    Cherubim

b.   Candlesticks

c.    Flowers

d.   Pomegranates: freedom to dye and change from the natural (imagination)

e.    Dealing with “technical problems”—how to make these things; requires human ingenuity and hard work.

F.   The Temple

1.   Divine inspiration

2.   Beauty (2 Chron. 3:6)

3.   Ornamentation (not strictly functional) (27)

4.   Carved figures: lions, palm trees, etc.

G.  “Secular art” (not strictly for worship)

                   Solomon’s throne

H.  Jesus’ use of art

1.   Brazen serpent (Numbers 21:6; John 3:14-15); smashed only when worshiped (2 Kings 18:4)

2.   Jesus speaking was artistic, memorable, picturesque, witting, humorous (see D. Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ)

I.     Poetry

1.   Psalms: David as prophet and artist (musician also)

Contemporary counterfeit: the artist as godless prophet, not subject to normal social and moral standards: modern painters (Picasso); modern music (rock); etc.

2.   Song of Solomon

3.   Artist and the muse (35): whole personality is involved and inspired

4.   The romantic and art

J.   Music

1.   Miriam celebrating Israel’s victory (Exodus 15)

2.   Music in the temple (1 Chronicles 23:5)

3.   Music, worship after Hezekiah’s reforms ( 2 Chronicles 29:25-26)

No reason not to have music in NT church (contra non-instrumental churches)

4.   The liberating effect of offering art unto God (43)

K.   Drama (Ezekiel 4:1-3) and dance (Psalm 149:3)

God pleased with these forms when used wisely

L.   Art and the world to come

1.   Art in heaven (Revelation 15:2-3)

2.   Artworks preserved in heaven (Paul Robert); the “wealth of the nations brought in” See Richard Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In.

II.           Some Perspectives on Art

A.   Some important principles; not exhaustive

B.   Eleven principles

1.   Art work (and art-making) has value in itself. See also Hans Rookmaaker, Art Needs No Justification

a.    God as Creator; humans as creators (Psalm 8)—unlike animals, who may exhibit beauty (in their bodies and actions), but not create it. Humans do both.

b.   But not all creativity is good, godly. Blaise Pascal: We are “deposed royalty” See Doug Groothuis, On Pascal, chapter eight; Christian Apologetics, chapter 18. Something may be creatively evil.

c.    Art may be too “intellectual” to reach and touch people (53); problem of opacity

d.   Three views art work

(1)  Art for art’s sake: elitist opacity; but worldviews show through to some extent

(2)  Art embodies a message; may reduce to intellect and leave out artistic element

(3)  Body of work articulates the message of the artists

2.   Art forms add strength to a worldview, whatever that worldview may be

a.    Painting, prose (C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton), poetry

b.   Rouault on humans as “deposed royalty” (Pascal).

3.   In writing, is there a continuity with normal syntax and semantics (see 1 Corinthians 14:1-11, on speaking in tongues; Eccles. 12: careful writing)

   Form and freedom

4.   That something is art does not make it sacred. The problem of counterfeit or “semantic mysticism” (see Schaeffer, The God Who is There)

5.   Four Standards of Judgment

a.    Technical excellence: mastery of medium

b.   Validity: honesty, integrity

Preaching (Malachi 2:7; 1 Peter 4:11; James 3:1-2; Titus 2:7-8)

c.    Intellectual content or worldview

(1.)        Not Bohemian freedom (Rousseau, Gaugin, counterculture)

(2.)        Corollary: good art makes bad philosophy seem better
Zen: beauty in service of the self-destruction of             the human as such.

(3)  Non-Christian may make art representing Christianity better than Christians. Four types of people in relation to art

a.    Christian who makes art to express a Christian worldview

b.   Non-Christian who make art to express non-Christian worldview

c.    Non-Christian who expressing something of a Christian worldview.

Georgia O’Keefe and the beauty of the human touch on creation.

d.   Christian who fails to make art congruent with Christianity: Thomas Kinkade

(4)  How well is the vehicle suited to the message?

6.   Art forms can be used for any type of message

There is propositional content in all art. But this may be hard to discern in mere images.

7.   Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this

The classic and the contemporary in creative tension; see the work of M. Fujimura.

a.    Art should be contemporary

b.   Art should vary from country to country

c.    Should reflect Christian worldview (Romans 12:1-2)

8.   No such thing as godly or ungodly style

a.    Christian style of music

b.   Sanskrit

c.    Japanese and guilt (or Tao in John 1:1)

d.   T.S. Eliot

e.    Key statement (80); relate to jazz (more next class)

9.   Christian worldview has major and minor themes

a.    Minor: the fall

In non-Christians and Christian

b.   Major: purpose and meaning (creation and redemption)

10.    Christian art need not be “religious”

11.     Every artist has the problem of making an individual   
work of art and building up a body of work

The Christian life as a work of art. See Psalm 90.

On Christianity and art

1.   Kenneth Myers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture (Crossway, 1989).
2.   Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo (Crossway, 2010).
3.   Hans Rookmaaker, Art and the Death of a Culture (Crossway reprint).
4.   Phillip Ryken, Art for God’s Sake (Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006). Reviewed by Doug Groothuis at:

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