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John Piper offers a wonderful theology of art, in which he defines art as that which is done not merely for utilitarian purposes, but to move or affect.

Strengths of this definition:

  • “good” art affects us in an emotional and/or spiritual way
  • purely pragmatic communication does not seem artful
  • everyone can be artistic in some fashion
  • art and definitions of art should be rooted in God’s character
  • Christians should be more motivated than anyone else to care about art
  • What we could add to this brief definition:

  • some art also has practical purposes (e.g., a beautiful advertisement)
  • art demonstrates the common grace of God, even amongst non-believers
  • art requires intent that sets it apart from everyday actions
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    The world spins madly on, and as it spins, our population continues to increase.

    Over and over again, artists have questioned our tendency to clump together in urban centers and destroy the natural world around us.  At the same time, philosophers and theologians contemplate how historical truths apply in an ever-changing landscape.


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    We often take our surroundings for granted, but that can be dangerous.  Rather than accepting the status quo, we should follow the lead of artists like Yang Yongliang and consider where our trajectory will take us.  For those of us who believe in God, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our time, our energy, our people, and our world.

    For more on Yongliang’s work, read this article by Gizmodo, and check out more of his work here.

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    No one ever told me that my heart would feel this way.

    Even the strongest Christians have their weak moments, but the sins of a friend can be depressing.  Indeed, many times, a friend’s sin weighs even more than our own sin.  We see evil from an outside perspective, and in small measure, we experience how God must feel.

    It feels like heavy snow upon the heart.  You watch as a friend delights in the world and buries their life in sin.  You hope they will stop,  come around, and realize what they are doing.  You wonder what will happen next.  You wonder if they know God at all.  You pray that God will have mercy on another soul.

    But rather than casting the sin out of our minds, acting as if it never happened, it is good to have heavy hearts.  Scripture tells us to restore sinners in a “spirit of gentleness,” as if we were surgeons operating on our own child.  When it comes to sin, we are dealing with something far more serious than we realize.

    Furthermore, we can be susceptible to the same sins, so Scripture warns us to “keep watch on yourself” (Galatians 6:1).  When we are apathetic or brash towards other people’s sin, we disregard Scripture and endanger ourselves, so God reminds us to feel the weight and tread lightly.

    As you think of a friend or a relative who has made some poor decisions, take a moment to intercede for them and pray for your own strength

     

    photo credit: i k o via photopin cc

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    Good design has dramatic effects upon the human brain. We have all sensed that in one way or another — maybe through an abstraction painted by Pollock, a computer designed by Apple, or a sunset displayed by God.  But have you ever wondered why?

    “Why We Love Beautiful Things” (you can read it here) is a well-written article that explores the connection between good design and science. It is worth reading for anyone who enjoys art and its relation to our brains. Here is how the article ends:

    “We think of great design as art, not science, a mysterious gift from the gods, not something that results just from diligent and informed study. But if every designer understood more about the mathematics of attraction, the mechanics of affection, all design — from houses to cellphones to offices and cars — could both look good and be good for you.”

    I would add that science, too, is a gift from God. Science does not diminish from art, but adds to the incredible wonder of our complex, yet utterly coherent, world that God has made. From a theistic viewpoint, art and science compliment each other because they have a common Creator, so these findings should not surprise us, but rather encourage us as we pursue the arts and sciences.

     

    Photo:  NY Times (click image for link)

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    Simply defined, preaching is the intentional proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

    As proclamation, preaching occurs at a particular time, in a particular place, to a particular audience.  Preaching requires that someone is listening, and it requires presence and immediacy that is unique compared to other forms of communication, such as a printed book or a video recording.  Put another way, preaching requires particularity.

    General or archived sermons (such as those used by satellite churches) serve a purpose, but do not qualify as preaching in the holistic sense.   Such sermons do not address the particular needs of a particular congregation, which is composed of particular individuals at a particular time.  As such, these sermons address general needs, but never address the particular needs of a particular people.

    Crop Wheat Field 11As Haddon Robinson once wrote, “In the Gospels we see that Christ never dealt with two people the same way… A sermon full of generalities hits no one in particular.”  (The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching, 117)  In other words, Jesus recognized that preaching involves not only words, but the people being addressed.  There is particularity when Jesus speaks, and preachers today should recognize how our Lord and Savior proclaimed the good news of His Kingdom.

    Preaching is not a relic, nor an object for electronic archive, but an event that takes place in real-time and real space.