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Art & the Bible

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The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Francis Schaeffer. "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God." Many Christians, wary of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity. But the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts. The h The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Francis Schaeffer. "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God." Many Christians, wary of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity. But the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts. The human impulse to create reflects our being created in the image of a creator God. Art and the Bible has been a foundational work for generations of Christians in the arts. In this book's classic essays, Francis Schaeffer first examines the scriptural record of the use of various art forms, and then establishes a Christian perspective on art. With clarity and vigor, Schaeffer explains why "the Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.


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The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Francis Schaeffer. "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God." Many Christians, wary of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity. But the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts. The h The lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts," writes Francis Schaeffer. "A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God." Many Christians, wary of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity. But the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts. The human impulse to create reflects our being created in the image of a creator God. Art and the Bible has been a foundational work for generations of Christians in the arts. In this book's classic essays, Francis Schaeffer first examines the scriptural record of the use of various art forms, and then establishes a Christian perspective on art. With clarity and vigor, Schaeffer explains why "the Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.

30 review for Art & the Bible

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This little book had me scribbling notes and underlining furiously the whole way through! It was excellent. There were so many times when I couldn't resist laughing in joy as I read. Just the very first words on the very first page are dynamite. I also really liked what he said about "great art" and the necessity for judging art not only on how well it is done, but by what message is taught. That is a needed message in our day, and he delineated that so well. (See pages 43-45) I did, however, dis This little book had me scribbling notes and underlining furiously the whole way through! It was excellent. There were so many times when I couldn't resist laughing in joy as I read. Just the very first words on the very first page are dynamite. I also really liked what he said about "great art" and the necessity for judging art not only on how well it is done, but by what message is taught. That is a needed message in our day, and he delineated that so well. (See pages 43-45) I did, however, disagree with Dr. Schaeffer on one point. In the last section, he claims that, "In one way, styles are completely neutral." pg 56 And again, "let me say firmly that there is no such thing as a godly style or an ungodly style." He uses the example of rock music to support his claim. "Let us say, for example, that you are playing in a Christian rock group. Suppose further that you are going into coffee houses and using rock as a bridge to preach the Christian message. That is fine. But then you must be careful of the feedback. When you are finished playing, have the people heard your message?" His view is that while a style in itself is not godly or ungodly, that the style has a relation to the message. "Styles themselves are developed as a symbol or vehicle for a certain worldview or message." pg 52 While this is very true, he is missing the even deeper level: that the styles *in themselves* teach a message. That is the very reason why the artist chooses it in the first place, whether they consciously realize that fact or not. So while Dr. Schaeffer admits that the style reflects the artists worldview, he does not believe that the style has an intrinsic message. I disagree with this position because I believe that it ignores an important fact: God created our world, and we cannot escape the fact that there is a message that is necessarily carried in the form or method. Art bridges the divide created by language, and speaks unmistakably to everyone.This is the same in all times and cultures. Surely, there are differing degrees to this, but heavy metal music communicates *in the style itself* a message. Forms, methods, and vehicles, themselves are not neutral. They too carry a message. This to me, seems to be in opposition to all the truths he so beautifully and clearly lays out in the book. Still, apart from this small section, I agreed most heartily with everything else. His distinctively Christian worldview is refreshing in a time when many do not understand the significance of the tie between worldview and aesthetics/culture. ______________ Excerpt from the book: "Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Saphraneet

    I would give this a 4.7 if I could. It is a good introduction to a subject that demands further attention. Some points that especially stood out to me: 1. "...creativity has value because God is the Creator." 2. "Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity." 3. "The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars." 4. "He may have no gift of writing, no gift of composing or singing, but each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives hi I would give this a 4.7 if I could. It is a good introduction to a subject that demands further attention. Some points that especially stood out to me: 1. "...creativity has value because God is the Creator." 2. "Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity." 3. "The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars." 4. "He may have no gift of writing, no gift of composing or singing, but each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life." 5. "The Christian's life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Forster

    A Manifesto of Christian Art This little book (really just two essays) is short, but packed with truth. Schaeffer lays out a theology of art that includes both great freedom and great responsibility. We must glorify God through our art, he says, but that doesn't mean reducing it to an evangelistic tool. Art has value because of who God is, and because of our identity as bearers of His image. We also don't need to be afraid of fantasy or imagination. "The Christian is the one whose imagination sho A Manifesto of Christian Art This little book (really just two essays) is short, but packed with truth. Schaeffer lays out a theology of art that includes both great freedom and great responsibility. We must glorify God through our art, he says, but that doesn't mean reducing it to an evangelistic tool. Art has value because of who God is, and because of our identity as bearers of His image. We also don't need to be afraid of fantasy or imagination. "The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars." The last section, right at the end, spoke to me as well - that as Christians, our life itself is to be our greatest work of art.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    "If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness." These two essays were published in 1973. For anyone familiar with the Scriptures, the first essay holds no revelations. He cites dozens of references to art found in the Bible from visual art in the temple to music and poetry. He makes a case for the fact that art does not have to be "religious" to bring glory to God. The second essay gives criteria for evaluating art. I appreciated his cal "If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness." These two essays were published in 1973. For anyone familiar with the Scriptures, the first essay holds no revelations. He cites dozens of references to art found in the Bible from visual art in the temple to music and poetry. He makes a case for the fact that art does not have to be "religious" to bring glory to God. The second essay gives criteria for evaluating art. I appreciated his call to Christian artists to be honest in their work by showing man's brokenness and sinfulness. But he also emphasizes that the optimism of the gospel message must be incorporated to make the work of art complete. This does not mean that every work of art comes with a sermon. It just means that the message of brokenness must be joined with one of hope in order to be truly biblical. "We create out of a worldview and it is our responsibility to align that point of view with Scripture."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wade

    In Art in the Bible Schaeffer states “The lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarch between the body and the soul. God made the body as well as the soul and redemption is for the whole man.” Schaeffer very clearly presents the fact that Christianity involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. These are not periphery, side areas – these are the central areas. The arts and the sciences all have a In Art in the Bible Schaeffer states “The lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarch between the body and the soul. God made the body as well as the soul and redemption is for the whole man.” Schaeffer very clearly presents the fact that Christianity involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. These are not periphery, side areas – these are the central areas. The arts and the sciences all have a central place in the Christian life. He is also clear to point out the fact that any artist (painter, sculptor, writer, or musician) makes a body of work that clearly reflects and displays his, or her, world view. He also challenges modern Christianity by saying that “Christian art is by no means always religious art, that is, art which deals with religious themes.” Christian music is not simply music that is played on Christian radio stations, but music where Christians are reflecting their world view and often times not explicitly saying the word “God”. His point is that “No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is cared upon to be an artist in this sense. He may have no gift of writing, no gift of composing or singing, but each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life. In this sense, the Christian’s life is to be an art work. The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.” This is a great book, short and easy to read and highly recommended for anyone with any interest in the reality of Christ in our culture.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Yock

    A helpful read. Schaeffer has a lot of very thought through and helpful things to say on the relationship between Christianity and the arts - and on being a Christian artist. Though dated a bit now I’m not aware of a 21st century equivalent that’s better. Schaeffer quotes the bible often enough, and the gospel is present, though I wouldn’t describe it as a gospel centred approach, and therefore I was left wanting. Still, plenty of helpful stuff to take away, and I’ll be adding it to my list of r A helpful read. Schaeffer has a lot of very thought through and helpful things to say on the relationship between Christianity and the arts - and on being a Christian artist. Though dated a bit now I’m not aware of a 21st century equivalent that’s better. Schaeffer quotes the bible often enough, and the gospel is present, though I wouldn’t describe it as a gospel centred approach, and therefore I was left wanting. Still, plenty of helpful stuff to take away, and I’ll be adding it to my list of recommended reading for young artists who want to think more about being a Christian and an artist at the same time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    A Biblically-based look at art and how the Christian should view and use and make it. I especially appreciated the sections that addressed whether all of a Christian's artistic expressions have to be clear representations of the Gospel or other spiritual things. This is a question I've wrestled with myself, and Schaeffer's case has brought me closer to a solid answer. I definitely recommend this one for any Christian artist!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zak Metz

    God is creative. We are created in his image. We can and should exercise our creativity. Our artistic expressions need not be limited to the "religious." I plan to read this to my 10-year-old daughter who is very artistic. I want her to understand that God created her such that she can express herself that way, and that it has real value. We should not be dismissive of modern artistic expression even if we don't personally care for it. Times change.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Watkins

    Great. Listened to the Audible audio book version. In the first half of this short book Schaeffer examines cases where art is talked about in scripture. The second portion of the book deals with how to view art from a Christian worldview. Recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    A good introduction into how to think about, value, and create art from a Christian perspective.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Fantastic read on a biblical perspective of the arts - their purpose, use, etc. Includes not just art but music, writing - any sort of creating. The last few points in the essay (#s9-11) were particularly helpful for me in shaping some questions I’ve had (particularly in the realm of music).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josh Bauder

    Two essays in this small book. In the first, "Art in the Bible," Schaeffer responds to the objection that the Bible forbids representative art by explaining the Mosaic Law's prohibition of graven images. He then overviews positive instances of art in the Bible (representative visual art, architecture, music, poetry, dance) as implicit proof of its effectiveness and appropriateness in religious life. The second essay, "Some Perspectives on Art," unfolds as an eleven-point manifesto. 1. A work of art Two essays in this small book. In the first, "Art in the Bible," Schaeffer responds to the objection that the Bible forbids representative art by explaining the Mosaic Law's prohibition of graven images. He then overviews positive instances of art in the Bible (representative visual art, architecture, music, poetry, dance) as implicit proof of its effectiveness and appropriateness in religious life. The second essay, "Some Perspectives on Art," unfolds as an eleven-point manifesto. 1. A work of art has value in itself. This is not to say that art is an end in itself, but to affirm that art expresses worthwhile content separate from and above utilitarian concerns. Schaeffer defends art as an expression of the Imago Dei and claims that art is necessarily subject to moral judgments. He rejects the modern avant-garde notion that art says nothing at all, and he also rejects the opposite notion, popular among evangelicals, that the only use of art is to blatantly propagate an intellectual message. Instead, he views art as initiated for its own ends but, along the way, invariably exposing the worldview of the artist. 2. Art[istic] forms add strength to the world view which shows through. "The effect of any proposition, whether true or false, can be heightened if it is expressed in poetry or in artistic prose rather than in bald, formulaic statement" (39). 3. Good art adheres to normal definitions and normal syntax (my paraphrase). Schaeffer means that art—even innovative art—should be intelligible. "Totally abstract art stands in an undefined relationship with the viewer, for the viewer is completely alienated from the painter" (40). Even those non-Christian artists who wish to depict the horror and alienation of humanity will reference the common vocabulary of the created world, even if they distort or mock that vocabulary; thus the Kantor and the Giacometti below succeed at expressing something where the Yangyang Pan fails. 4. The fact that something is a work of art does not make it sacred. Not all great art is true, expedient, or beautiful (see the Kantor and Giacometti above). 5. Art should be judged by technical excellence, validity, content, and integration of content and vehicle. "Validity" is that quality by which the art accurately represents its creator's genuine personal aesthetic—in other words, the artist has not sold out simply to please an audience or to make money. Discussing content, Schaeffer points out that untrue and immoral ideas can be far more destructive when expressed in great art than in prosaic statement. He also explains that non-Christian artists can produce art within the framework of Christian worldview (I think of Brahms, Thomas Jefferson, Chesterton, Scruton, et al.). Similarly, Schaeffer posits the possibility of a genuine Christian producing non-Christian art. 6. Art forms can be used for any type of message from pure fantasy to detailed history. "Just because something takes the form of a work of art does not mean that it cannot be factual" (48). 7. Styles of art form change and there is nothing [inherently] wrong with this. The Christian may need to reject art because he understands what it is doing, but he should not reject it simply because it is new or different. "As long as one has a living art, its forms will change" (49). Here Schaeffer gives three pieces of advice for Christian art: (1) it should be 20th-century [we may update this to "21st-century"]; (2) it should differ from country to country; and (3) it should reflect the Christian worldview. 8. There is no such thing as a godly style or an ungodly style. Still, he continues, "we must not be misled or naive in thinking that various styles have no relation whatsoever to the content or the message of the work of art" (52). "Totally fractured prose or poetry cannot be used to give the Christian message." Schaeffer defends the use of Christian rock as an evangelistic tool in coffeehouses (???), but cautions against the idiom obscuring the content. 9. The Christian worldview can be divided into the minor theme of the rebellious world and the major theme of meaning and purpose in life (my paraphrase). Christian art permits the expression of both themes: sorrow, brokenness, and abnormality on the one hand, victory and joy on the other. An art that depicts only the major theme devolves into optimistic and sentimental romanticism. An art that dwells only on the minor theme ignores the fact that the world is intelligible and moral, not absurd, and that redemption is possible. 10. Christian art is not always religious art. "Christianity is not just involved with 'salvation' but with the total man in the total world... Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism" (60-61). 11. Every artist has the problem of making an individual work of art and, as well, building up a total body of work. Don't judge an artist from one piece, but from as much of his oeuvre as possible. If you're an artist, don't attempt to accomplish everything in one piece. Objections 1. Schaeffer never clearly defines art. 2. The writing isn't great, and there are too many exclamation points. 3. Schaeffer doesn't have anything to say about pop culture. 4. Schaeffer defends "the art work as an art work" but later argues against "art for art's sake." He needs to better explain the distinction between these two phrases. 5. Schaeffer believes that an artist's worldview can only be understood by surveying his entire artistic output, never by looking at a single piece of art. "[Only] when we see a collection of an artist's paintings or a series of a poet's poems or a number of a novelist's novels, both the outline and some of the details of the artist's conception of life shine through." I disagree. What we might gain from the broad overview of the artist's oeuvre is the trajectory of his worldview, if indeed there is one (T.S. Eliot, for example, or Penderecki or John Tavener—or Schoenberg). Otherwise, it is entirely possible to ascertain worldview from a single painting, poem, or novel—assuming, of course, the artist is skillfully expressing something serious. Let me put it another way. Are only those few individuals in the world who have listened to everything Bach wrote, or who have read all the poems of Rossetti or Herbert, qualified to understand those artists' worldviews? Is it really impossible for the listener to grasp what Bach believed from the St. John Passion alone? Am I not allowed to understand Schaeffer's worldview, given that Art & the Bible is the first and only piece I've read of his? Methinks he underestimateth the expressive power of individual works. 6. Schaeffer says, "Just as one can have propositional statements in prose, there can be propositional statements in poetry, in painting, in virtually any art form" (48). False. That there are no propositional statements in painting, music, or architecture is hardly a controversial claim. The whole point, my friend, is that moral content exists beyond the scope of mere propositions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gina **the Snow Queen**

    Excellent. Quick read, Schaeffer doesn’t waste his words or get high and mighty. This is approachable and you don’t have to ascribe to Christianity or any religion to gain understanding or insight. Highly recommend. 5 perfect stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Todd Luallen

    Todd - A quick read on the biblical view of art, along with plenty of practical application for the Christian today. If you're wondering about different forms of art and entertainment in the world, and how the Christian should engage with such, this book will give you a good foundation for answering the questions. Schaeffer believes that there is no such thing as a godly style, or an ungodly style. And he goes to a decent length to show support in scripture for non-religious artwork. However, he Todd - A quick read on the biblical view of art, along with plenty of practical application for the Christian today. If you're wondering about different forms of art and entertainment in the world, and how the Christian should engage with such, this book will give you a good foundation for answering the questions. Schaeffer believes that there is no such thing as a godly style, or an ungodly style. And he goes to a decent length to show support in scripture for non-religious artwork. However, he believes strongly that all artwork shows the worldview of the artist creating it, and as such, Christians should be able to present their Christian worldview through the body of their artwork. I'm thankful for the book because it gives biblical references for non-representational art, and for secular art, two things which I would not have been able to show in scripture prior to reading this book. Schaeffer gives the Christian artist plenty of reasons to stand up and cheer, and then to go off and create wonderful works of art. But he also gives every Christian individual a work of art in which they alone are perfectly suited to make...namely, their life. The choices you make as a Christian individual throughout your life are the unique, creative choices, that only you can choose. Schaeffer encourages us all to make our choices wisely and with a Godly worldview in mind.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

    A short and decent introduction to Christian aesthetics.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily Polson

    I would maybe recommend this for someone who's interested in learning more about the intersection of faith and art, or legitimately curious what the biblical basis for art is. I didn't find it particularly enlightening, but I've already got a well-formed aesthetic as a Christian who is also an artist.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    3.5 stars A quick read (only 94 pages). The first half was so-so but the second half where Schaeffer gives some "perspectives on art" was good. I thought his 11 points were pretty spot-on. A great intro to anyone interested in theology and the arts. Quick, easy, thought provoking.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Koleesa

    This book was pleasant to read and I learned a lot from it; however, I'm not sure I quite agree with all of his conclusions on the subject matter. It makes me very interested in doing more research on the topic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    We need this book to be read and put into practice.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Blackaby

    A short, but very informative tract on the subject. A perfect starting point for Christians interested in creating or consuming the Arts

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justin Daniel

    Francis Schaeffer has long been one of my most favorite authors. As I make my way through his books, I am always astounded at the wisdom of this man and his continued legacy, in both Christianity and the wider world. Two constants in his books are 1) the emphasis on worldview, and 2) utilizing art to demonstrate the lessons of worldview. I was surprised to find this book, then, which combines the two together into one volume. While it is short, it asks the necessary question: how should Christia Francis Schaeffer has long been one of my most favorite authors. As I make my way through his books, I am always astounded at the wisdom of this man and his continued legacy, in both Christianity and the wider world. Two constants in his books are 1) the emphasis on worldview, and 2) utilizing art to demonstrate the lessons of worldview. I was surprised to find this book, then, which combines the two together into one volume. While it is short, it asks the necessary question: how should Christians, with a Christian worldview, see art? The first lesson that Schaeffer presents is that art communicates worldview. He says that even those who create art for "art's sake" do not neglect this true fact; behind every work lies a worldview, whether the artist is cognizant of that fact or not. This is true of the human forms, for example, of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The humans there are anatomically correct, to a fault, which demonstrates the emphasis of that era (the Enlightenment) on a new understanding of reason and science. It is also true of the nihilism (the lack of belief in anything consequential in human existence) of Martin Heidegger. All art conveys worldivew. This second lesson is that there is a Christian perspective to art; in other words, there is a Christian worldview that can be present in art. Schaeffer spends most of the first half explaining why Christians should not denigrate art because the Bible presents the usefulness of it. For example, there are blue pomegranates on the robes of the priests of Israel. There are no blue pomegranates in nature; and yet, they are present not for practical reasons but for the esthetic. Further, the Song of Solomon is poetry and can be understood as a beautiful piece of literature. The Bible supports art, and therefore the Christian should be able to appreciate it. Third, Schaeffer spends the second half of the book understanding the Christian role in doing just that: appreciating and understanding art. He uses 11 miniature lessons to explain this. Here are some highlights: Schaeffer speaks about the three different levels of art and worldview: 1) art created through a Christian worldview (the best it understands the whole person [fallen and yet inherently full of worth]); 2) art through whom the artist believes he see's through the Christian worldview and yet does not (e.g., Thomas Kinkade painted Christian themes and yet died due to alcoholism); 3) art created without the Christian worldview. In another section, Schaeffer speaks on art and change. Since art changes throughout the years (it is not static like doctrine), Christians should understand and appreciate the medium through which the time supports. For example, the ancient Israelites did not watch movies or television. And yet, just because we can enjoy art through these mediums does not mean we shouldn't because our ancient predecessors didn't. In a more controversial analogy, this is often debated in church about worship. Should we only sing psalms and hymns in worship? Schaeffer would argue (and I would agree) that we should adopt the styles of the time in regards to music and art. This is a short overview of this short book. But I believe it is even more critical to understand art and how to interpret it today than in previous times. Pick up this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Book Review: Art and the Bible Author: Francis Schaeffer Format: Softback Topic: Art Theory Scope: A Christian Primer on Art Theory and Criticism Purpose: To give a Christian Perspective of Art and how the Bible and God view Art in all its forms. Structure: There are two fairly large chapters in this book. The first chapter explains how the Bible portrays Art in many forms and how it is a valued aspect of human experience. The second chapter attempts to give a primer on how to evaluate and enjoy art Book Review: Art and the Bible Author: Francis Schaeffer Format: Softback Topic: Art Theory Scope: A Christian Primer on Art Theory and Criticism Purpose: To give a Christian Perspective of Art and how the Bible and God view Art in all its forms. Structure: There are two fairly large chapters in this book. The first chapter explains how the Bible portrays Art in many forms and how it is a valued aspect of human experience. The second chapter attempts to give a primer on how to evaluate and enjoy art from a few different aspects. What it does well: *Schaeffer has given a great reason for enjoying, making, and supporting Art for those who are Christians. *One of Schaeffer's main points is to show that God is the ultimate artist and we reflect his creative attribute when we create as well. *There is a decent amount of interaction with real artists and "masters" to discern Schaeffer's points. *A reader would be hard pressed to come away thinking that God hates art. What it lacks: *This is clearly only a primer and probably could use some more nuance. *I wished it was longer. *Schaeffer does not leave a reader without more questions. For example, what is the line between art and obscenity? Some quick highlights: " Recommendation?: "We were free to create, as long as we never forgot that we are slaves to Jesus."-9 (Michael Card--in the foreword) "Evangelicals have been legitimately criticized for often being so tremendously interested in seeing souls get saved and go to heaven that they have not cared much about the whole man... The Bible, however, makes four things very clear: (1) God made the whole man, (2) in Christ the whole man is redeemed, (3) Christ is the Lord of the whole man now and the Lord of the whole Christian life, and (4) in the future as Christ comes back, the body will be raised from the dead and the whole man will have redemption."-14-15 "... once we understand Christianity is true to what is there, 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."-17 "An art work can be a doxology in itself."-18 "It is the mannishness of man that creates."-35 "A work of art has a value in itself.... Art is not something we merely analyze for its intellectual content. It is something to be enjoyed. The Bible says that the art work in the tabernacle and the temper was for beauty."-50 "Too often we think that a work of art has value only if we reduce it to a tract. This too is to view art solely as a message for the intellect."-54 "We are not being true to the artist as a man if we consider his art work junk simply because we differ with his outlook on life.... if the artist's technical excellence is high, he is to be praised for this, even if we differ with his world view. Man must be treated fairly as man."-62-63 "Styles of art change and there is nothing wrong with this.... As a matter of fact, change is one difference between life and death."-73 Recommendation: I do recommend this book. I find it invigorating and compelling. I have heard there are other Christians who feel this book doesn't go far enough, but I think this book is meant to be a primer and whet the appetite. In this, it is clear, concise, and it gives me a deeper yearning to love art.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Levi

    I decided to read "Art and the Bible" by Francis Schaeffer mainly so I could get a take on the arts industry from a Christian who plainly knew something about art. Noting the present deluge of so-called Christian movies, I now realize that Schaeffer would be aghast at this cinematic movement. Schaeffer's whole message in this slim little book is that a work of art does not have to emphasize religious or spiritual themes or content in order to be glorifying to God. He explicitly states that a wor I decided to read "Art and the Bible" by Francis Schaeffer mainly so I could get a take on the arts industry from a Christian who plainly knew something about art. Noting the present deluge of so-called Christian movies, I now realize that Schaeffer would be aghast at this cinematic movement. Schaeffer's whole message in this slim little book is that a work of art does not have to emphasize religious or spiritual themes or content in order to be glorifying to God. He explicitly states that a work by a Christian artist need not take the form of a "tract." In fact, Schaeffer notes, plenty of artists who are Christians don't focus on religion at all in their art. This of course leads some Christians to opine that all art should glorify God in some way. If it doesn't, they say, then it can't be "good" art. Schaeffer refutes this stance as well, arguing that a work of art can still be beautiful, whether it is a poem, song, novel, sculpture, painting, or film, even if it is not designed specifically to glorify God. Indeed, he says, a work of art can be beautiful even if its underlying theme is openly antipathetic toward God! Of course, the particular edition I read suffers only from the truly asinine introduction by a Mr. Michael Card. Apparently, Mr. Card seems to believe that Schaeffer's writings in "Art and the Bible" are of value chiefly because they condone the use of rock music as an acceptable mode of liturgy, or worship music. I do not contest this principle, but the fact that Mr. Card chose to focus on what is definitely a minor point of this pamphlet, with only a few pages devoted to it, is quite dumbfounding. "Art and the Bible" is, on the whole, an intellectually vigorous read which could be carried in one's coat pocket. Francis Schaeffer, like C. S. Lewis, is adept at conveying his ideas with brevity and eloquence. I would skip the introduction if I were to re-read it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Wojcik

    "The Christian's life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world." This last line of the essays so succinctly encapsulates Schaeffer's perspective, and as believers it's fairly easy to get a good view of how our lives are to be "things of truth" - but how are our lives supposed to be things of (aesthetic) beauty? The first essay lays a biblical foundation for an understanding of art in all its forms, and the second gives an opinion of how to e "The Christian's life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world." This last line of the essays so succinctly encapsulates Schaeffer's perspective, and as believers it's fairly easy to get a good view of how our lives are to be "things of truth" - but how are our lives supposed to be things of (aesthetic) beauty? The first essay lays a biblical foundation for an understanding of art in all its forms, and the second gives an opinion of how to evaluate art. I found both essays helpful due to the esoteric way art has been discussed between Christians in my experience. How does one evaluate the beauty of art? Is art only beautiful if the Gospel is central? What about non-Christian artists and their art? Schaeffer offers a compelling and clear argument on how one can genuinely appreciate art in all its forms and evaluate it well. Especially in a world flooded with postmodern, abstract artistic expression, his clarity and succinct depth of thought is helpful. For the believer who is an aspiring artist or the Christian who is unsure about how to properly view art, Schaeffer can quickly give you a healthy grounding on how to approach art as well as a meaningful perspective on how to appreciate it. Highly recommended, especially due to its brevity but maintained depth of content.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joel Ohman

    “An artwork can be a doxology in itself.” Wow, this is a short book, but truly outstanding. As an author, there is a lot for me to think on here, but I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. Here are just a few of the passages and comments (some loosely paraphrased) that stood out to me: Art has value in itself. Why is this? The Christian is uniquely suited to know the value of art, because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator. H “An artwork can be a doxology in itself.” Wow, this is a short book, but truly outstanding. As an author, there is a lot for me to think on here, but I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. Here are just a few of the passages and comments (some loosely paraphrased) that stood out to me: Art has value in itself. Why is this? The Christian is uniquely suited to know the value of art, because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator. He not only creates, but He invites us - beings made in His image - to create after Him. What then is the purpose of 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. An artwork can be a doxology in itself. We should ultimately see all works of art in light of these four judgments: technique, validity, worldview, and suiting of form to content. That a work of art is in the form of fantasy or epic or painting does NOT mean that there is no propositional content. Just as one can have propositional statements in prose, there can be propositional statements in poetry, in painting, in virtually any art form. Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this. Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person who is a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism. I also absolutely loved some of the remarks made by a fellow student in my Theology & Culture class at Southeastern so I am adding his thoughts down below (with his permission). The following is from Doug Ponder, Pastor of Teaching and Training at Remnant Church in Richmond, Virginia (http://www.remnantrva.com): As a mental test case of sorts, I found myself wondering what Schaeffer would say if he had applied his "four standards of judgment" to the works of Thomas Kinkade. I can't speak for him, but if my read of Schaeffer is accurate, I think he would say that (1) Kinkade's work is remarkably inferior in all technical aspects to the great artists of history, even compared to the great artists of our time; (2) Kinkade's work is probably lacking validity, as evidenced by his unrepentant drunkenness that eventually killed him, his broken family, his wildly violent aggression toward his critics, and especially his candid confessions that he painted what was in demand but not necessarily what he himself believed; (3) Kinkade's work is poorly reflective of the Christian worldview, since it reflects only romanticized versions of the "major" theme of Christianity without any place for the "minor" themes of sadness and darkness and sin; and (4) Kincade's work is a poor integration of the form and the function, or the "content and the vehicle," as Schaeffer says, since it fails to understand the nature of the medium of painting altogether. For the record, I don't have any personal vendetta against the man, but I do find it troubling that he is the quintessential "Christian" artist whose works hang in the homes and hallways of churches around America. It seems his work is nearly the exact type of art that Schaeffer had in mind when he says that we ought not view art as valuable only if it is used as tracts or as objects to generate fuzzy feelings of fleeting sentimentality. It also dawned on me as I was reading Art and the Bible that our assignment later in the semester is essentially a Schaefferian exercise in comparing two works of art: Facing the Giants and Les Miserables. For those who have already seen them, you can't help but appreciate the irony that the "Christian" film is a worse eample of art in every way than the movie based on a book by an angry agnostic and critic of the church. While not poking fun of those who enjoy films like Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, God Is Not Dead, War Room, etc., what Schaeffer has written truly does help us assess works of art with honesty, without giving them a "pass" because we agree with (some of) their worldview. The latter is an unfortunate trend in evangelicalism that has not seemed to improve since Schaeffer criticized it a few decades ago. I think perhaps that we are so focused on telling a story about truth in a good/wholesome way that we overlook the importance of making the story beautiful. In this way, a lot of "Christian" art so often fails to captivate in ways that the gospel can and should. (This happens in sermons many times too, as Jonathan Edwards lamented in his day.) This is not to say that all Christians have overlooked the importance of the beautiful in the classical triad of the good, the beautiful, and the true. Liturgical denominations, especially Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches, have placed a particular emphasis on aesthetics to the glory of God. While finding some aspects of their theology severely deficient, Protestants can nevertheless learn from them a great deal about the role that aesthetics play in the life of the "whole man," as Schaeffer says. There is beauty in ancient cathedrals that speaks to our souls in ways that warehouses and storefront churches never will—and I say this as a church planter who pastors a church that has met in such buildings as need arose. But if I had my 'druthers, I'd pick the transcendent spires, stone walls, and stained-glass windows any day. Those types of buildings are filmed and photographed for a reason. I think we all recognize their beauty, even if we don't understand why beauty matters. I think this principle is what also enables us to appreciate works of art, whether music or architecture or poetry or painting, by anyone and everyone. Their creativity is a gift from the Creator, even if they don't know him or even if they are ardently rebellious against him. Indeed, I sometimes wonder with sadness whether God will show such people their works of art on judgment day and ask, "How could you create such beauty and fail to recognize the source?" For if all truth is God's truth, as Schaeffer has said in his other works, then surely all beauty is God's beauty.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    I am so glad I picked up this book! This was really good, and there are some aesthetic lessons that I think Christians have yet to learn. I guess I wouldn't have thought the following quotes were Schaeffers', but they are, and they are excellent! "Christian art today should be twentieth-century art. Art changes. Language changes. The preacher's preaching today must be twentieth-century language communication, or there will be an obstacle to being understood. And if a Christian's art is not twent I am so glad I picked up this book! This was really good, and there are some aesthetic lessons that I think Christians have yet to learn. I guess I wouldn't have thought the following quotes were Schaeffers', but they are, and they are excellent! "Christian art today should be twentieth-century art. Art changes. Language changes. The preacher's preaching today must be twentieth-century language communication, or there will be an obstacle to being understood. And if a Christian's art is not twentieth-century art, it is an obstacle to his being heard. ...A Christian should not, therefore, strive to copy Rembrandt or Browning." "There is no such thing as a godly style or an ungodly style." "In all forms of writing, both poetry and prose, it makes a tremendous difference whether there is a continuity or a discontinuity with the normal definitions of words in normal syntax." I am still skeptical of the ways that Schaeffer (and everyone else) is using the word "art", because he uses it without carefully distinguishing between a universal human impulse to make art, music, poetry, etc. and the unique aesthetic moment in the Enlightenment that gave rise to Capital A Art.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hawkins

    When you read this book, you can tell why it was really important and even revolutionary when it was written. Schaeffer does such a great job clearly addressing the issue of Christian creativity. It is brilliant, and I think largely because of his influence and this book, it actually isn’t such an issue today as it was decades ago when it was written. That being said, if anyone ever wants to see why it is great for Christians to produce art (that even isn’t explicitly Christian), or why we can en When you read this book, you can tell why it was really important and even revolutionary when it was written. Schaeffer does such a great job clearly addressing the issue of Christian creativity. It is brilliant, and I think largely because of his influence and this book, it actually isn’t such an issue today as it was decades ago when it was written. That being said, if anyone ever wants to see why it is great for Christians to produce art (that even isn’t explicitly Christian), or why we can enjoy art/music/etc. that isn’t explicitly Christian, or how to evaluate good art, this book is gold. So it easily is 5 stars. I wasn’t engulfed in it only because I had heard a lot of it before. (I attended Covenant Seminary where I thought they took a lot of Schaeffer’s ideas and have swung too far on them!). But it cannot be denied how crucial Schaeffer’s thoughts have been on Christianity and evangelicalism, and it is seen when someone reads this short book. I am very thankful it is written, and it 100% deserves the title ‘Classic’ because of its influence.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    This short little book is an excellent entry-point for thinking biblically about art and artistry. I think it was originally two different essays on art, the first a biblical consideration and the second more focused on what a biblically Christian approach to art might look like in real life. Personally, I kind of prefer Rookmaaker's Art Needs No Justification, which is similarly concise, but I think Schaffer makes some very solid and good points. I especially like how he differentiates technica This short little book is an excellent entry-point for thinking biblically about art and artistry. I think it was originally two different essays on art, the first a biblical consideration and the second more focused on what a biblically Christian approach to art might look like in real life. Personally, I kind of prefer Rookmaaker's Art Needs No Justification, which is similarly concise, but I think Schaffer makes some very solid and good points. I especially like how he differentiates technical ability and creativity from worldview, which is very insightful.

 I found the book a pretty easy read and very accessible. I think any aspiring artist (of any art), would be well served reading and thinking through what Schaeffer has laid out. I also think it would be especially good for pastors to read this book to complement whatever approach to art they are working through in their churches.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Sieders

    A good, short primer on this subject with some clear insights. Some are basic, but need to be said - especially in the Christian community that looks askance at anything that might seem too secular, or hollywood. Schaeffer makes clear that God made man creative and is interested in beauty. He also lays out that Christians do not need to make Christian art, but that a Christian's art should be borne of their worldview and ultimately bring glory to God. A helpful distinction, and one that artists A good, short primer on this subject with some clear insights. Some are basic, but need to be said - especially in the Christian community that looks askance at anything that might seem too secular, or hollywood. Schaeffer makes clear that God made man creative and is interested in beauty. He also lays out that Christians do not need to make Christian art, but that a Christian's art should be borne of their worldview and ultimately bring glory to God. A helpful distinction, and one that artists can grapple with over their entire career. And finally, I loved his conclusion - everyone is an artist, even if they have no obvious art talents. Our whole lives are to be a work of art that reflects our heavenly father!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo Bruno

    Bem, acho que não há muito o que falar, né? O cara era muito bom. Muitos insights valiosos e necessários para um relacionamento adequado com a arte. Na primeira parte do livro ele faz algumas considerações sobre a arte na Bíblia, e na segunda, algumas perspectivas sobre a arte de modo geral. Aqui, ele fornece onze perspectivas distintas a partir das quais um cristão pode considerar e avaliar obras de arte. O livro encerra desafiando os cristãos a fazerem de suas próprias vidas uma obra de arte. Bem, acho que não há muito o que falar, né? O cara era muito bom. Muitos insights valiosos e necessários para um relacionamento adequado com a arte. Na primeira parte do livro ele faz algumas considerações sobre a arte na Bíblia, e na segunda, algumas perspectivas sobre a arte de modo geral. Aqui, ele fornece onze perspectivas distintas a partir das quais um cristão pode considerar e avaliar obras de arte. O livro encerra desafiando os cristãos a fazerem de suas próprias vidas uma obra de arte. Coisa linda!

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