A Reformed Vision of the Visual Arts - part 2 - page 4


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From the Summer 2014 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

A Reformed Vision of the Visual Arts: A Conversation with Abraham Kuyper, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and the Word of God
Part 2 of a Two-Part Series on the Arts and Theology

by Connally Gilliam
C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow

 
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The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. (Isa. 32:16-18)

  The Scriptures invite us to use our imaginations to picture what it will be like to live in that abundant, fair, peaceful country. And the visual artist, whether by offering us real and honest glimpses of Shalom unattained (think of the prophetic fragmentation

reflected in Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon) or Shalom en route (picture an evocative work by Makoto Fujimura, such as his Golden Sea), can, if we will receive it as C.S. Lewis suggests, stir our imaginations. The paintings we paint and the sculptures we sculpt (or, for that matter, the poems we write, the gardens we grow, the bridges we build, the truths we tell, or the communities we cultivate) can become the creation-mandate hors d’oeuvres that we are created to offer and to taste now in longing anticipation of the banquet that is to come.

Well Done Good and Faithful Artist

  It is true that until Jesus returns and establishes the new heavens and earth, perfect Shalom, including some perfect expression of art, will elude us. Suffering and brokenness are integral to life on this still fallen planet. Our best efforts here may be buried, as Lesslie Newbigin has said, in the rubble of history—canvases will crumble, paint will peel, sculptures will be chipped away, buildings will be torn down . . . people will die. But this future to which we in Christ are headed is assured, and what we offer, be we a sixteenth-century theologian or a twenty-first-century artist or somewhere in between, these are our gifts back to the Creator in whose image we are made, whose grace—common and saving—is ours to receive, and by whom we can begin to love. He is the one who will then one day say: “Well done, good and faithful [artist! or theologian!]. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:23).
  And that is the culmination of a Reformed aesthetic worth any artist’s embrace.

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