A New Paradigm for the Church
For centuries Christians have battled over what kinds of art are acceptable. The argument has lead to executions, excommunications, exonerations, and more. Christian art has shaped Western culture in many ways.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and take a stance: Artistic expression is a God-given gift and should be used to glorify Him. Obviously, when you take it a step further and start praying to the work or even worshiping it, then you’ve passed into idolatry (See 1 Corinthians 12). It should go without saying that we don’t want to do that. But biblically speaking, art, like any spiritual gift, should be considered an asset to the church.
Plus, we’ve got a lot of artists out there who never found a place in the church, simply because they think their talents are useless in that setting.
But if we could just find a way to tap into this large population and reanalyze how this gift-set can be used to edify the body (1 Corinthians 14:26 defines the reason we have spiritual gifts: to edify the body), then we can bring life into the church in ways we never thought possible.
So what will it take exactly to engage artists?
Lots of things. We’ll want to first show them that the church values their gifts. The church will have to define what it looks like to integrate art into the daily life of the people. There should be systems in place to help them develop their talents in the context of the church. That way, the artists themselves will be able to produce work that captures the essence of Christ and His people and can communicate it to other artists.
Yeah, I know. It’s quite an undertaking.
But I want to begin the process by publicly acknowledging specific works of art created by our brothers and sisters. It’s a small step, but we gotta start somewhere, right?
Today, I’ll begin with visual arts.
A Really Great Organization
I stumbled across an organization called Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA). Their website is civa.org.
This is a truly innovative group of people. Check out their mission and vision. In all honesty, they say what I’m trying to say in this article… but they do it way better.
Their website gives Christian artists the opportunity to set up galleries (online as well as in person).
But perhaps more important than the ability to display their work, the website provides a network that allows these artist all over the world to communicate, share ideas, and work to shape the culture for the name of Christ.
It’s amazing. Thank God for CIVA.
A Few Personal Favorites
I’ve collected a few works from CIVA.org by different artists and compiled them here. All work, names, and captions are from CIVA.org and written by the artists respectively. They were chosen simply because I liked them, and I wanted to get you all started in a new appreciation of our brothers and sisters who have these wonderful Holy Spirit-given talents.
Please, enjoy. And more importantly, praise God!
Ruth Gleaning Near Field
Artistic photograph of Biblical character Ruth from Forged by Faith art series by Brian Parks
Finish the Course
By Laura Kestly
Acrylic on wood panel with recycled license plate pieces incorporated.
Inspired by: I CORINTHIANS 9:24; 2 TIMOTHY 4:7; HEBREWS 12:1
Simon of Cyrene
Contemporary southwest skyscape, part of the “Rend the Heavens” series inspired by Isaiah 64:1. Oil & mixed media on panel, 6″ x 12″ x .75 with edges finished in black. No need to frame, ready to hang.
Watercolor, wood, twine
Prayers of the People
Brothers in Christ
Graphite on Paper
Also published on Medium.