Thursday, April 10, 2014

Art and Missions

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” Psalm 19 declares, “and the firmament shows his handiwork.”

Recently, I used my own rendition of Ethiopian icons in a class on the eight signs in the Gospel of John.  Not only did the icons provide color and interest to the class, but each Ethiopian pastor was able to take their copies with them to their villages to retell the stories, using the images as tools to reinforce what they were saying.  Words and images combined provide a powerful platform for the revelation of the truth.  But that should come as no surprise as that is exactly what our Creator has done.

Beauty helps communicate truth.  In many cultures, art is considered valuable mainly because of the information it contains.  Poetry, prose, and iconography were used, long before the written word, as mediums through which the content of truth was conveyed.  Evangelical missionaries are beginning to discover that, while the western mind tends to separate art and content, so-called “non-literary” societies see them as comprehensive, something our Orthodox brethren have known for centuries.

Scripture is filled with art and artists – the Creator himself being the prime example – as creativity is part of humanity’s imitation of the Creator God.  In the beginning, God created.  The opening words of the Bible declare that the majesty of the mountains, the splendor of the sunset, the grandeur of the grass-covered plains, the breathtaking beauty of a bird in flight and of a beast at rest, the vibrancy of verse spoken, the pithiness of poetic narrative – all find their genesis in a creator who is beauty personified. 

The Bible itself is a work of the utmost beauty, its words and structures being the source of inspiration for some of the world’s greatest hymns and songs.  It seems safe to say then, that the sheer beauty and amazing diversity of creation, and God’s self revelation in the Scriptures, communicate not only the glory of God, but also say something about his thoughts on the subject of art.

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  1. These icons are simply beautiful. I would love to see more of them.

    1. Hi John
      Thank you. You are most kind.
      You can see them! Just click on the "Johann's Art" tab at the top of the blog page.
      Many blessings.