Morgan Dean Gallatin's:

Morgan Dean Gallatin's:

. . . thoughts, beliefs & rantings

The Absolute Necessity Of The Human Figure In Christian Art: Nude or Otherwise

by Morgan Dean Gallatin

© 2012,

Revised:11/07/13 © 2013

- - - THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF THE POST - - -

 

MY PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE INTIMATE INSEPARABLE CONNECTIVITY OF CHRISTIANITY & ART:

The creative process, making, and other possibly related ideas

 

--- THIS DOCUMENT IS IN DRAFT FORM AND WILL BE CONTINUED IN FUTURE POSTS ---

 

I think it is absolutely necessary to address the human body in a Christian discussion on visual art not only because the human figure is used so frequently as the subject in art but more importantly because as a Christian we profess to believe that it was important for Christ to come as a human with a physical body. It is after all God's intent to resurrect and redeem the whole person including the physical body. Unfortunately, in my opinion, many Christians see the “nude” in some way as sinful. Since my own so-called-Christian-worldview does not hold this belief I find it very difficult to understand the seemingly blanket ban on nudity in art by some so-called-Christian-worldviews. And, because I have never been presented with a well-reasoned argument in support of such a ban, I can only present my arguments against such a blanket censorship based on my own assumptions of the apposing opinion. In other words my reasons for supporting the study of the nude and allowing its presentation in artwork may in no way address the apposing view's reasons for banning the study and presentation of the nude.

 

The first point that I will make is that an art object is simply that, an “object”. Objects have neither the capacity to sin nor to be saved—objects are amoral. So, when I hear someone say, when encountering a nude, “that is sinful,” or something on that order, and that is all they are willing to say about the encounter then I must immediately dismiss this statement as irrational because the object cannot sin. If however they mean something else, such as: The artist has sinned because he created a nude; or the model has sinned because they have posed nude for the artist to create the object, or even that they—the viewer—has sinned because they have look at the nude, then I believe there can be, at the very least, a discussion about these ideas.

 

As I have stated earlier, I believe that the physicality of the body—the flesh and bone—is not by nature evil and does not even have the capacity to live—let alone do evil—without the direct affect of the human mind, and it is the mind that I believe has been infected with sin—not the physical form of the body. So, when we read in Genesis 1 about the creation, we discover that God saw all that he had made, and it was very good, (Genesis 1:31, NIV) this statement is applied to the human body. I find no indication in scripture that the physical appearance of the human body changed after the fall of man—only that it is now affected by sin and that affect is specifically physical death, which I understand in the broadest sense as the aging process (thought I have not the intelligence to understand how sin causes aging and certainly there are any number of other causes, seemingly unrelated to aging, which bring what appears to be premature death to countless individuals). Regardless, I must argue that sin’s affect on the physical body did not change the body’s general appearance or Christ’s physical human body would not have been recognizable as human to the individuals around Him. I say this because we know Christ to be without sin. How is it then that His human body died? This is a miracle often overlooked, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, [so that Christ’s human body would die,] so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV) It also seems reasonable to assume that the speed at which Christ died on the cross is directly related to the fact that He became sin, not just for one individual, but for all individuals—the compounded concentrated sin of the whole world—instant or near-instant death for one human body. And so, I must believe that sin kills the body but I cannot believe that the body—the nude—its self is sin.

 

In my thinking, to say that the nude body—is sin—is to also say that God created sin; and in fact, God would have sinned when He creating Adam and Eve and looked at them while they were nude and side, this is good!

 

This is good? I personally don’t know any Christians who are willing to say that God has sinned and I certainly do not hold that belief. Sin originates in the mind, in the thoughts of the individual. If I look at someone and think about what I would like to do to—or with that individual sexually—dwelling on those thoughts—and using that individual for my own sexual pleasure—that I believe, is sin—even if I do not act upon my thoughts, and that according to Jesus"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'—(Exodus 20:14) But here is what I tell you. Do not even look at a woman in the wrong way. Anyone who does has already committed adultery with her in his heart. In this passage, nothing at all is said about nudity. In fact, a man can commit adultery in his “heart” [mind] with a fully clothed individual. So in fact, Looking at an art object—say a painting or sculpture of any individual, clothed or nude—and again thinking about what I would like to do sexually to that abstracted individual (real or imaginary) represented in the art object—using that abstracted individual (real or imaginary) for my own sexual pleasure—that too I believe is sin! One’s personal motive must always be considered by the individual—for one’s self—but motive can never be adequately assessed or assigned to another individual. Only God clearly sees an individual’s motive.

 

Many argue that after the fall God clothed Adam and Eve and therefor nudity was deemed sinful at that point in time. I would argue that too much has been read into the text that simply is not there. Yes, Adam and Eve felt naked and they were naked before God but this, in my opinion, has nothing to do with their physical appearance—their spirit was gone—dead—they were for the first time spiritually naked before God. They knew this but had no idea how to fix it.

 

Fig leaves are not sufficient to cover spiritual nakedness. Adam and Eve had not yet understood the severity of their actions—the consequences for themselves, let alone for the rest of creation. Blood sacrifice is the only covering permissible by God for spiritual nakedness. I do not believe that the animal skins that God made for Adam and Eve were for the purpose of simply covering their physical nakedness—clothing. The skins were also shockingly poignant reminders to Adam and Eve of what they had done. These skins did not come from just any animal. I believe these skins were from specific individual animals recognizable (likely by name) to Adam and Eve.

 

Adam and Eve had likely never ever seen a dead animal. Let alone one that they had probably seen and interacted with on a regular bases. And now they had to wear that animal’s skin—I think more as a bitter reminder of the consequences of their own actions and as a vivid image of death, reflecting their currently dead spiritual condition and foreshadowing their own physical death.

 

In my opinion clothes though they cover the physical body and are far more significant as reminders of our fallen state—our spiritual nakedness. It is not a wonder that clothes have become so significant in human culture—used to signify position and reflect wealth—camouflage for our uniformly dead spiritual condition. Both in and out of the church the true significance of clothing has been nullified. Some would go so far as to prohibit the use of animal skins for clothing and therefore completely separate clothes from the blood sacrifice that was deemed necessary by God.

 

Of course as a Christian I believe that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and no others will ever be needed. In Galatians 3:27 the writer says: "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (NIV)  The physical body did not change with the fall. The spiritual covering died. Clothing is a less than satisfactory way of covering the body and should be a reminder of our spiritual condition not so much our physical condition. I am not advocating for the abandonment of clothing for Christians, on the contrary clothing should be a tremendous reminder of our need for Christ our spiritual cover. But in the same way, I do not believe it is a sin to be nude or to represent the nude in art as a condition of the human race. Every single one of us will stand naked before our creator.

 

So frequently, so called, Christians behave as if they are not in need of a savior—by banning a selected “sin” from society and pretending that all will be well. If that were true we would not be in need of a savior. The Law—any law—would have worked but the Law cannot bring us back from depravity and death, and restore to us our physical and spiritual life—only Christ has this power through his death and resurrection. Those Christians who adamantly appose nudity in art frequently quote: Job 31:1, 1 Corinthians 6:18 or 2 Timothy 2:22 (among others).

 

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. (Job 31:1 NIV)

 

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV)

 

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)

 

My concern in general when people us these passages is this; making a covenant and or fleeing something is a very different action then banning something. Making a covenant and or fleeing are actions made by a person taking responsibility for ones’ self. Banning something generally implies taking action and responsibility for controlling and or manipulating the actions of others. God, Christ, nor the Holy Spirit is in the practice or habit of controlling or manipulating individuals and neither should it be the practice of those who claim to follow after Christ and His teaching.

 

My second concern is with the assumptions implied and made about the artist and the model by those quoting these verses. The automatic implications are that the artist is lusting after the model and that the nude model is sexually immoral and the artist, the model and even the viewer are all pursuing some “evil desire”. I can agree that this is a possibility but it is likely not true in most cases.

 

Let us pretend that you are sick and need medical attention. Will you go to see a veterinarian? I think not. You will go to a medical doctor, someone who has studied the human body. So, why then would you expect an artist who has never studied the nude body to recreate that form accurately in a drawing or painting or sculpture? They cannot. An artist cannot recreate accurately something they have never seen. Well you might ask; why must the body be nude? Let me ask you this; would you want a doctor to set your broken arm bone if he had no idea what your body looked like on the inside (in other words, how the bone looked before it was broken)? Again, I think not.

 

Our 21st century society, with its rapid advancement of the camera and the digital age, has quickly forgotten that it was in large measure the artists of the Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael who helped to advance medical science and anatomy by dissecting and studying the dissection of human corpses and carefully recording what they observed. The intent was not to advance medical science; the intent was to improve the skill of the artist, making it more feasible to recreate the human body as accurately and as exactingly as possible—a convincing reproduction or illusion of the human form. The careful study of the human body is not born out of lust, immorality or evil desire; it is born out of a desire to be a skilled artist capable of rendering in great detail the human form, as created by God.

 

Interestingly, during the pagan periods of the Roman Empire human dissection was outlawed due to their veneration of the human body. Some say that Christianity’s view of the body as flesh and flesh as evil made allowances for human dissection during the Renaissance. Thus, they go on to say that Christianity was a major player in the advancement of modern medicine.

 

I am fine with this premise, in that Christianity may have played a major factor in the advancement of modern medicine. However, I must reiterate that I do not hold to the idea (even as a Christian) that the physical body in its visual form is innately evil, nor that the visual form of the body, nude or otherwise, automatically leads to—or implies—evil. Is the Human race prone to lust and sexual immorality as defined by the Bible? Yes—absolutely without question—humans are prone to all kinds of inappropriate thoughts and actions—that is why we need Jesus and the renewing of our minds that He brings.

 

Certainly we can operate under the law and blame others and objects for our weakness and bane those objects that we have deemed offensive and inappropriate but that will not renew our minds. Nor will it acquaint us with the one individual who truly can renew our minds and rescue us form our thoughts of immorality and evil—Christ.

 

It is my opinion, when an individual intends to ban or prohibit the nude in art for everyone, that individual has in fact conformed to the pattern of this world. That pattern is to assume for ones’ self the roll of God and then to incorrectly interpret that roll (God’s roll) as the controller of every other individual’s actions and elevating ones’ self to a place of authority over others. God’s pleasing and perfect will is and has always been to given each and every individual of the human race the option to choose Him or to reject Him. This is what I believe Paul is talking about when he says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:2-3 NIV)

 

It would seem that most individuals like to quote the first and second verses as prof of their correctness: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV) However, for whatever reason these individuals leave off the third verse in which Paul says: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3 NIV)

 

I certainly do not intend to say that for every individual on the planet looking at a nude art object is appropriate. This would completely nullify my current argument. If an individual cannot look at a nude art object without lusting in his mind, then he should not, as a Christian, commit that sin. He is therefore responsible for himself and his actions and he will need to avoid places where he might see such images. It is however inappropriate and even un-God-like to prohibit artists who do not have this difficulty with the nude from making such works or banning others who are unaffected by the nude from seeing the nude figure in appropriate works of art.

 

I would agree that pornography is rampant in our current culture and readily available to virtually everyone via the Internet. But say we cannot agree on the definition of pornography, or whether we agree that this specific image or that specific image is pornography, it is likely irrelevant to the fact that no culture has ever successfully wiped out pornography. The spiritually dead condition of the human race makes that impossible. Change, only comes in the spiritually dead condition of the individual when that individual chooses to believe the good news that Jesus, the Son of God died for them as an individual in their spiritually dead condition and is the only power that can and will transform their life by integrating His spiritual life with their physical body.

 

This spiritual integration is the teaching of Christ. In Galatians 2:20, Paul writes: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV) This is what the church claims to believe but in my experience it is not generally lived out in the community of believers. It is almost always voiced but I would argue that it is seldom understood. It appears to be interpreted by most Christians as something that they can participate in, something in fact that they feel they personally can aide Christ in doing. I personally cannot see where this idea comes from. Paul clearly says that…the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God. The only action here taken by Paul is the action of faith. He gives no list of activates that must be taken by an individual desiring to have this “life in the body.” Christ, through the Holy Spirit indwells (lives inside) our human body—it is not the other way around—Christ fully integrates with us—not us with Him.

 

What we so often fail to comprehend is that we, as humans, are already dead—spiritually dead. We are born into this world spiritually dead—but we are deceived by our circumstances—we are certain that we are fully alive and living. Understandably so, we have nothing spiritual—no spiritual context in which to make a comparison of our life. (If you have not experienced sorrow you cannot fully understand joy.) As humans, we are only partly capable of understanding our spiritual deadness after we have been made spiritually alive through faith in Christ. Be certain—we are not alive—not until we personally accept the reality of our dead condition and receive the gift of spiritual life presented to us by Christ through the indwelling Spirit of God, are we fully alive—by faith and not by any other action that man can take.

 

In direct contrast (and I would say direct conflict) with this teaching and belief that Christ integrates with us, is a practice embraced by many Christian institutions of higher learning today—the so-called implementation and practice of “Integrating Faith with Discipline.” The intent is for faculty members to integrate their faith in Christ with their discipline of study. I suppose it sounds harmless enough but I must argue that this idea, if not actually heretical, is very close.

 

Christ is the only power capable of true integration—humans do not hold this power; the teaching is that an individual is made alive spiritually, by faith in Christ—by that individuals faith in the integration of Christ’s living Spirit into the human physical body, which is spiritually dead—it is not produced by any action taken by the individual. As humans, we are spiritually dead and completely unable to generate our own faith in Christ.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)

 

It is my belief that these institutions are completely deceived—practicing a form of idolatry, and completely unaware. They in fact are boasting about how their individual faculty members have been able to integrate their personal faith with their discipline. (Where I taught, in one college they actually had a list of ways one could integrate their faith and discipline.) I personally find this practice unsettling—shocking—and believe it to be a truly vivid example of a subtle deception practiced today within the church and her institutions. Men are not able to generate the Christian’s faith, let alone integrate that faith into their area of study. If in fact men could generate their own faith in God and His righteousness, we would not be in need of a savior—and yet we are desperately in need of Christ and the very faith to believe in Him.

 

A spiritual life lived in faith is exactly that—a spiritual life, which cannot be seen and which can only be accepted on or by faith—a substance, which also, cannot be seen and which this world really knows nothing about. So then, how do you show the integration of faith, which cannot be seen and which is not even of this world and which is maintained by an entity who is spirit (God) and that cannot be seen visually in this physical world—how is it then that an institution claiming association with Christ and His teachings can claim to show physical integration of faith and discipline? I would argue, they simply cannot. If they do, then their faith is proven false; it is not faith—it is a physical action—religiosity—and it is in my opinion a deceptive teaching.

 

However, if these institutions are willing to ignore the desire or the need to prove what they are doing and simply say: It is by faith that we accept that Christ is integrating His life into the lives of our faculty members and it is by faith that we believe that His integration into our faculty members is also impacting the way that our faculty approach their individual disciplines and leave it at that—then that would be faith practiced as Christ teaches. But that is not what I have experienced. I wish that it were.

 

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AND WHAT IS FAITH?

And what is faith?

by Morgan Dean Gallatin

Revised: 28 Sept 2012

© 2012

- - - THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF THE POST - - -

 

THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF THE HUMAND FIGURE IN CHRISTIAN ART: NUDE OR OTHERWISE

 

--- THIS DOCUMENT IS IN DRAFT FORM AND WILL BE CONTINUED IN FUTURE POSTS ---

 

And what is faith? Perhaps you would disagree with me when I say that this world knows nothing about faith. I would agree that it is in fact evident that everyone exhibits forms of faith—simple faith, such as faith that a chair is going to hold me up. But even simple faith is born of uncertainty. By that I mean—when you sit in a chair you do not know for certain that it will bear your weight—other chairs have—this chair has before—so based on a history of chairs holding me up I assume by faith (some would say by evidence and by experience) that when I sit in this chair it will hold me up—but I cannot know this for certain until I sit down and stay in the chair for some time and actually get out of the chair—then and only then can I be certain that it has held me up. I can only assume that it will continue to do so until such time as it should collapse under my weight.

 

I have heard the chair example used all of my life. However, I cannot see this kind of faith as a faith of certainty. And, it is certainly not available to us sight unseen as stated in Hebrews 11:1, perhaps the most quoted verse in the Bible about faith: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) In the case of the chair, this is something that we have seen—we had to see it in order to develop faith in the chair. As children we saw others sit in chairs. We were placed in chairs; perhaps against our better judgment at the time—it could not hold onto us like our mother. It was not warm like our father but in time we learned to trust chairs to hold us. This is not faith—it is more like the empirical method used to derive a conclusion in scientific exploration. I am not convinced that any “faith” generated by a human can be absolutely certain of anything—this “faith-with-certainty” in Hebrews is what I believe the world is unable to reproduce and knows nothing about—it is the gift from God talked about in Ephesians.

 

Now, let me remind you that I believe I was born into this world spiritually dead (as is everyone according to the Christian tradition). And I believe that when I accept this fact—that I am spiritually dead—and I recognize that God has created a way to bring me back to life spiritually through Christ (God’s Son)—(the good news)—oh yes—don’t forget—just believe—and—POOF—you are reborn—spiritually alive. WHAT? REALLY? Are you kidding me? No—I am not—that is what I believe. I know, it sounds absurd. It is absurd. But that is faith. Faith is not rational. The faith referenced in Hebrews 11:1 is not based on empirical evidence or experimental methods. It is in fact based on a “knowing” that the knower cannot adequately explain to anyone including him or herself. If you are certain of something that you cannot prove and are content being unable to prove it to others, then—that is the faith talked about in Hebrews.

 

It is my primes that the spiritual death created what I will call a “need” for faith in humans. Faith—“knowing”—may in fact have been the very think that died. Before the fall it seems that Adam and Eve were in perfect harmony with God and His creation—they knew what they needed to know to be content and they were spiritually and continually connected to God (whatever that means) even when He was not visibly present to them. I would say they knew exactly who God is to the extent that humans can know who God is and they were certain of His love and care for them and I believe that they also knew He had created them. I believe they were absolutely certain of this before they disobeyed His directives and I am equally convinced that they were absolutely uncertain of all of this after they disobeyed God. This is made evident by the action of hiding, an absurd action to take in a relationship that is designed to be spiritually symbiotic in nature. In an instant, Adam and Eve were completely unaware of who God really is. They truly believed that they could hide form Him because they knew exactly what had died—the spirit within them that continually connected them directly to God. They no longer knew where God was, so how could God know where they were?

 

Whether or not the spiritual side of the human—the part that died—can be classified as “faith” before the disobedience of Adam and Eve, “faith” is now what we receive at our rebirth—our adoption into the fellowship of believers—the body of Christ—the Church. If I understand the Bible correctly, when I accept my spiritually dead condition, I am made spiritually alive in Christ by faith, and the spirit that is alive within me at that point is not that of my own, it is the Spirit of God—and the only way possible for me (or anyone else for that matter) to remotely comprehend this indwelling of the Spirit of God is by faith. In reality, I do not believe this faith (provided by God) provides any insight or understanding in, and/or for us about God—it only produces for us a confidence in God. Apparently before their disobedience, Adam and Eve knew with out a shadow of a doubt that they were spiritually connected to God this was the reality of who they were. Faith, as we understand it, was not necessary. They knew exactly whom God was and what the will of God was for them, because they were directly connected to Him spiritually—He told them directly—they chose to ignore His directions. We do not have the same specific knowing about who God is and His will for our lives in the way that Adam and Eve were first privileged to. What we have now is faith that can provide for us a confidence in God that supersedes our own inability to perfectly know His specific will for our individual lives.

 

However, this living by faith is far easer said than done. I would argue that most professing Christians in today’s world stumble into this condition if they ever find it at all. Much of what is taught in the church today is a list of things you “must do” to be, at the very least, a “better” Christian, or “if you really want to know God.”

 

Unfortunately, I have never heard of any such list including “live each day by faith in Christ (period),” as the principle component. What I hear is: read your Bible every day; have a early morning “quiet time” with God; pray; go to church at least once a week; tithe; witness/evangelize; and the list goes on. I would agree that none of these things are inherently bad—unless—they are used as physical markers to artificially reproduce a “spiritual life” in Christ, which is to be lived out in or by faith alone—not in the physical world by measurable actions. I understand the difficulty in teaching about living by faith—living by faith in Christ is not something that can be explained to someone who has not experienced living by faith in Christ. It is not a normal way to life. Sadly the church has bought into the old adage—God helps those who help themselves—an idea found nowhere in the Judeo-Christian texts of the Bible.

 

One truth of the Bible is this—God helps everyone, whether we like it or not—Christ died for the ungodly [every human that has ever lived or that will ever live]…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6b, 8b, NIV2011) and do not forget that He [also] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mathew 5:45b, NIV1984) In the Christian tradition, no single person would be alive on this planet if God were not making it so. However, that does not mean that He must or will redeem every person (a complex topic for another time).

 

So, by faith I live my new Spiritual life in Christ through the presence of God’s Spirit in my life. And, because I cannot measure that physically (nor can anyone else) I am only left with the option to believe by faith or not to believe by faith—that this is true and possible—no specific human action can provide proof. What is “proof”—is the “knowing” that develops within ones-self that something is truly different in the way that life is approached. If an individual has experienced that “knowing” they will understand what I mean by “knowing”. It is an unexplainable “knowing”. I will argue (and without apology) that if a person feels the need to prove to someone else that he or she is a Christian (that you “know”) or that a person seeks proof from another individual that he or she is a Christian (that they “know”)—you do not fully understand the principle of living your life by faith in Christ. I believe if you did, this would never be of any concern to you. But in the current culture of the American church (at least those I am familiar with) it seems always to be an issue. So much so, that frequently, you must be voted into the so-called “local church”—a practice that is not Biblical. According to the Bible you become a part of the true Church, the body of Christ, the minute you accept your spiritual condition and in so doing accept Jesus as the Son of God—who He clams to be—Lord and Savior.

 

So, remind me—what does any of this have to do with “art”? Oh that's right...I'm telling you. Well, in my opinion if art is approached rightly it has the capacity to help us see the world in new and different ways. Certainly, art is not faith, but it can present to us something that we have never seen before. It can, in very unique ways, make visible that which has not been visibly or apparent to us before. This particular characteristic of art—revealing the not yet seen or the previously unseen—crosses all social belief systems. It is in no way prejudice, impacting both the artist and the viewers in profound and significant ways. Without question, Art is a powerful tool. You may better (and in part) understand this "power" characteristic in  our culture as visual advertising or dare I say it—propaganda. Humans in general do not recognize why this power exists; sadly, Christians frequently do not recognize the source of this power either. I point back to Romans: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV1984) God communicates who He is through His creation. More is understood about someone by looking at what they have done. And as I have explained earlier, the very source of the "creative power" is Christ! Without HIM, nothing is made!

 

--- THIS DOCUMENT IS IN DRAFT FORM AND WILL BE CONTINUED IN FUTURE POSTS ---

(some revisions were made to this post on Sept. 9, 2012)

My Personal Perspective On the Intimate Inseparable Connectivity Of Christianity & Art: The creative process, making, and other possibly related ideas

by Morgan Dean Gallatin

© 2012

 

I believe I create because in the beginning God created…(Genesis 1:1, NIV1984) and being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) who is formless—spirit—I know Him by his behavior and it is therefore my behavior that is made to reflect His image. The act of creating is more profound than any other human characteristic or behavior and I believe it is the identifying behavior that sets us apart from all other created beings (it would appear not even the angels create). Certainly some animals make tools and many more creatures create places to dwell and raise their young but to my knowledge none of them make objects to reflect or communicate to others who they are. This trait is exclusively human and reflects the image—the nature—of our maker—God.

 

The current culture, even more so within the Church, would have you believe that art/creation/creativity is recreational; if this is true, then it seems to me, it becomes necessary to say that the creation of the world is simply recreational—a form of entertainment for God—and too, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ—just entertainment. I am unable and unwilling to begin any discussion about creativity/creation/art, with this premise; I would that all Christians would be unwilling to begin with the premise that art is simply entertainment and/or recreation. I believe that art is far more intentional and significant—it is in fact necessary—in the beginning God created! (The first five words of the Bible.)

 

Why? Why do I believe art is necessary? Because I believe creation is necessary—perhaps not necessary for God but necessary for human existence, had God chosen not to create—I would not exist; and I exist, in my understanding, because God chooses to love and be loved. And, He chooses also to be known to me through his creation: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV1984) God communicates who He is through His creation, as I am able to reflect Him—His nature—and communicate who I am through my own creations, which is true for all.

 

I believe creation is always about communication, understanding and love. Without question, Romans 1:20, connects creation to communication and understanding. And God, who according to the writer of 1 John 4:7, is love, completes this idea because of the reflective nature of creating and the capacity of the created to reveal the qualities of the one who did the creating. However, these qualities must be discovered by the viewer/recipient, not forced upon him. The quality of love can only be present when it is given to another by choice—no strings attached—it cannot be extracted from, nor forced upon, any individual. God knowing this and loving me—desiring me—His creation—made me in a way that I am not required to accept His love nor to love Him back—I am allowed to choose—both to discover and to accept or reject His love, and to choose to love Him or not love Him, as all human individuals are allowed to do. So God, who is love, created the world for me (and all people) because of love and a desire to be loved by choice and not by design. Allowing “choice” is risky but absolutely necessary. From a human perspective love is always risky, allowing the possibility for the choice of rejection. Ultimately from my Christian perspective art/creation/creativity is always a reflection of God’s love and His desire to communicate and be understood—in the same way my creation and presentation of artwork reflects my desire to love, communicate and be understood. These are God implanted needs; I need to love and be loved—I need to communicate and to be in communication—I need to understand and be understood. I cannot view any of these actions as merely recreation or entertainment.

 

Creation is also costly; I believe God created the world with a full understanding of the ramifications and the cost; He knew from the beginning, to create the world, and to bring His creation to completion would (at least for a time) cost Him—His Son. God so loved the world (His creation) that He gave His only Begotten Son. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17) Only through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross—His death—is God willing to complete the creation process and fully redeem and realize the beauty of His creation. Christ was not an unwilling participant; He too understood the cost 6 who, being in very nature God, 7made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8, NIV1984) From this example it can be inferred that art—the process or act of creating—is without question—costly. Creating is personally costly for God, it is personally costly for Christ and it is also personally costly for humans—created in His image—including me.

 

Christ was not commanded to make this sacrifice by His Father—God. Christ was there as the creation was taking place; in Genesis chapter one, the phrase “God said” is used no less than nine times—He literally spoke the world into existence. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. Christ is in fact the medium—the paint—He is also the tool—the brush, the chisel—and He is God the artist who created the world. God spoke the Word (Christ), “the Word was God” and the world was created.

 

Creation like love is risky; in spite of the cost, God the Father and God the Son chose freely to create the world—the human race—me—a risky venture. The human expression of creativity—art—if shared is also a choice—freely given—not simply demanded or extracted from the individual. A work of art is by nature a direct reflection of the individual creator—the artist—who must then choose to present his creation to the viewer. Certainly the risk taken by the human artist is not as significant as the risk taken by God—our creation cannot reject us—but it can certainly betray us. An artist cannot hide who they are; For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities…have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made... (Romans 1:20, NIV1984) This truth cannot be ignored, if it is applicable to God and His creation than it is also applicable to my own work—certainly not on the same grand scale and perhaps with much less clarity—for God is not tainted by sin—but at some level every manmade creation/artwork (yes, including the shed built in the backyard) reflects the individual that designed it—not the external appearance of the individual but the invisible qualities—the inside—the mind—the spirit; and, not only is the artist reflecting who he is by his creation, but through the very act of creating he is also reflecting who God is—the creative nature of God—the God who made him in His (God’s) own image; this is true whether the artist believes in God or not! As a Christian, I think it is extremely unwise—dangerous even—to classify the act of creating as recreation—arts and entertainment—when it is one of the very few things that God has said has made His “invisible qualities” known to us. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, the New Living Translation)

 

The created always reflects the creator. In my own work, I view each piece as a self-portrait or at the least, a partial self-portrait—a reflection of who I am—and that communicates both to me and others—yes, I have gained personal understanding, awareness and clarity about who I am and who I am in Christ, and who God is, from my own artwork. This idea that each work is a self-portrait or partial self-portrait is not a traditional view by world standards, but it is, I believe, true for all individuals created in God’s image. This is also one of the reasons that I believe all individuals are and can be creative. It is extremely sad to me when I hear someone say; (particularly a professing Christian) “I have not a creative bone in my body.” I think it could in fact be blasphemous as a Christian believing that we are created in the image of God, particularly if that image, even in part, is related to God’s creative nature. Such a statement cannot be true. It is more likely that the individual is unwilling to risk rejection and or is unwilling to pay the cost of creating.

 

As a child I was a willing artist (as all children seem to be) honest and expressive in my creations. But with time came criticism, and with criticism came pain—rejection, and honest, expressive creation stopped or at the very least—became masked—disguised—dishonest—affected by my perception of what others might think. Certainly others can reject my work, like many have rejected God’s work, and by so doing they may in fact reject the artist—me. Peer-pressure particularly during the adolescent years, frequently stifles and or destroys the individualistic creative nature implanted in each person by God. The desire of—and the demand for—conformity—erodes the very complex image of God that we as humans are designed to reflect. If the individual is unwilling to risk rejection and or is unwilling to pay the cost of creating then they in essence reject to some degree—perhaps unknowingly—their maker—God. It is not surprising to me that in a society where many believe in evolution—natural selection—“the survival of the fittest”—that the arts are one of the first things to be removed from the education system, because art unlike athletics (which it is frequently grouped with) cannot be supported by the theory of evolution; a creative nature has no part in evolution. If you want to remove God from the schools, remove Art—the trait that is exclusively human and reflects the image—the nature—of our maker—God.

 

Unfortunately even within the Christian community—the art object—the end result—is seen as the most significant component of the creation/creative process. So frequently the viewer approaches a work of art with preconceived ideas about what art should look like and what it should do for them—the viewer. This is not a new occurrence, the apostle Paul in his recounting of human history said: They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:25, NIV1984) I am not suggesting that we should worship artists. I am suggesting that it is far more appropriate to look at a work of art and ask: What does this creation, this artwork tell me about the artist—creator? How does this work help me to understand the artist—creator? How does it help me to understand myself? I find these questions far more relevant than a simple assessment of whether or not I like a particular work of art based on a preconceived idea about what art should or should not be; or if it matches my color scheme.

 

But as the artist—like God who does not demand our acceptance of Him—I cannot demand acceptance from the viewer—I can only accept the response given. Much in the same way that love cannot be demanded and cannot be found—it can only be given by choice. I can only choose to give love, as I can only choose to create. This is unlike what the world would have me believe—that I can simply go out and find love—or creativity—I cannot! I may be the recipient of love but I cannot make someone love me. In the same way, I may present my creation to an individual or even the world—call it art—but the world or the individual can reject my work as art. Or even worse they can accept my work—buy it—share it with all their friends—take great joy in its possession—but completely disregard the creator—the artist—placing no value on the creator—loving the created and disregarding the creator as completely irrelevant.

 

I personally find this to be a dangerous position to hold, particularly as a Christian—the creator/artist is always relevant—absolutely essential—and, I think frequently, filled with the very Spirit of God: Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel, ... and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab, … the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. (Exodus 35:30-35, NIV2011) As I understand this passage, these men are filled with the Holy Spirit—the third person of the trinity. As a Christian, I believe that I am filled with that same Spirit of God. In fact all Christians are filled with the Spirit of God. Certainly not all Christians serve the exact same function in the Body of Christ but all are co-workers—co-laborers—co-creators—in Christ’s service.

 

So at one level, I believe that all of human kind is created in the image of God and reflect his creative nature and at a second level, I believe that some if not all Christians are aided in creating and or divinely appointed—called—to a more significant level of creation—co-creators with Christ—Christ being the medium, the paint, the brush, the chisel—even as I am created … anew in Christ Jesus, so that [I] can do the good things [God] planned for [me] long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, the New Living Translation) [My emphasis] God chose Bezalel and Oholiab not just to make their own artwork but also to teach others so they too would develop as skilled workers and designers in the production of the visual arts. It is also suggested to me that God filled Bezalel...with wisdom, with understanding [and] with knowledge [before He]…filled him with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs…and…engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. (Exodus 35:30-35, NIV2011) So though I am made in the image of God and reflect His creative nature, I can still be taught, and I can in fact be called to teach the skills of design and technique—art/creativity/creation.

 

Art is work, not entertainment. The first work of God, recorded by God, is that of creation—God created—did artwork—for six days and rested on the seventh. The world, even the Church seems to refuse to recognize art/creativity as work, but it is in reference to the designing and building of the Tent of Meeting—the Tabernacle—architecture—art—that Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. (Exodus 35:1-2, NIV2011) The work to be done in this passage is the work of creating.

 

And not only is creating—work—it requires at times that the individual be filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding [and] with knowledge. So frequently in our current culture, even the current Church culture, art is viewed as a non-essential, even as a fallback activity for the not-so-bright—“here, give them some crayons and paper that is surely something they can do to be entertained.” How unfortunate and how misguided these thoughts are, I believe, they are used to denigrate the importance of creation/creating and the significant wisdom, understanding and knowledge that can be required of an individual to be successful in a given creative endeavor. Please do not misunderstand me on this point—all individuals are created in the image of God—even those we may call “not-so-bright” and they too reflect His creative nature when creating. In fact, anyone and everyone—“lost” or “saved”—who participates in reflecting the creative nature of God is in fact worshiping the Creator—knowingly or unknowingly—every knee shall bow—worship is an activity that I think should never be thought of as entertainment.

 

Perhaps the idea of art as entertainment and or relaxation simply comes from the fact that most individuals in our culture do not make a living creating artwork and if they do create something apart from work, it is considered to be a hobby—entertaining—relaxing. I understand this classification but assert that it is woefully lacking—naïve in fact—when it comes to understanding the significance of the act of “creating”. A hobby, completely fails to acknowledge both: the potential of worship—communication with and the adoration of God; and the proximity to Christ—the place in which the individual finds ones self while participating in the activity of creating. I believe many in our society today feel as the writer of Lamentations, where long ago he wrote: For these things I weep; my eyes overflow with tears, because a comforter, one who could refresh and restore my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate and perishing, for the enemy has prevailed, (1: 16 Amplified Bible) and yet, even the church has failed to make a solid connection between “creating” and the Comforter. Creating—making things—in the presence of God, with God—connecting with our maker through His very nature; it is this, that I believe refreshes and restores the soul. And, I understand how this refreshing feeling could be misconstrued as merely recreational. However, it seems only logical—reasonable—to me that spending time reflecting the Creator—God—can bring calmness—a peace—a restoration of the soul. I believe this is true whether the individual believes in God or not. And I believe it can be far more significant if understood as worship.

 

As a part of worship, I have come to believe that creating—making things—“art” is in fact a sacrament—in that a sacrament is “something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.” And/or “a sign, token, or symbol.” (Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 19 Dec. 2011.) Many artists believe that “art” has a “sacred character” or “mysterious significance” but they have been unable or unwilling to make the direct link between God and creating—“art”. Even the western church has been unwilling to make this distinction. The “Ecclesiastical” definition of sacrament is “a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord's Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.” (Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 19 Dec. 2011.) I would argue that creation/creating/art is a solemn Christian rite instituted by Jesus Christ—in the beginningthrough him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made—and that “making” is, to symbolize or confer grace on the (not yet, but soon to be, created) human race. And I would argue that—since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, (which is a visible sign of an inward grace) so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV1984) To make something is to experience Jesus Christ at work, whether you believe in Him or not—without him nothing was made that has been made—though many equate this statement only to the original creation story, I believe it is an inclusive statement that covers all eternity. And I believe it is for this very reason that individuals find creating—relaxing and refreshing; they are after all interacting with The Creator—their creator—Jesus Christ; as they create, they are knowingly or unknowingly reflecting His nature; and whether they are aware of it or not they are being introduced to Jesus Christ through “making”, and they are also receiving His grace in the process. Much in the same wayHe causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45b, NIV1984)

 

Let me ask you this: What do you do when you want to get to know someone? I like to hangout with them, doing something that individual likes to do—and as a general rule, that can make me (and I hope them) feel really good and—I get to know them. I think it’s that simple and that complex. When an individual is creating—making something—he has placed himself in the very presence of Jesus Christ, without whom, nothing can be created/made and he is paying homage to The Creator—God.

 

So: What is “art”? Is “art” creation? Is Creation “art”? In our current culture “art” is by many considered indefinable. This is addressed by, Dr. Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Professor of art history at Sweet Briar College, on his web site page, ART & ARTISTS Today in the following way:

 

Today the questions “What is Art?” and “What is an Artist?” are not easily answered.

 

According to William Rubin, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, "there is no single definition of art." The art historian Robert Rosenblum believes that "the idea of defining art is so remote [today]" that he doesn't think, "anyone would dare to do it."

 

Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, states that there is "no consensus about anything today," and the art historian Thomas McEvilley agrees that today "more or less anything can be designated as art."

 

Arthur Danto, professor of philosophy at Columbia University and art critic of The Nation, believes that today "you can't say something's art or not art anymore. That's all finished." In his book, After the End of Art, Danto argues that after Andy Warhol exhibited simulacra of shipping cartons for Brillo boxes, in 1964, anything could be art. Warhol made it no longer possible to distinguish something that is art from something that is not.

 

What has finished, however, is not artistic production, but a certain way of talking about art. Artists, whoever they are, continue to produce, but we, non-artists, are no longer able to say whether it is art or not. But at the same time, we are no longer comfortable with dismissing it as art because it fails to fit what we think art should be (whatever that is).

 

We struggle with this because we have been taught that art is important and we're unwilling to face up to the recently revealed insight that art in fact has no "essence." When all is said and done, "art" remains significant to human beings and the idea that now anything can be art, and that no form of art is truer than any other, strikes us as unacceptable.

                                                        (http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/artartists/artartiststoday.html)

 

I certainly agree that the definition of “art” is elusive and I have, as of yet, avoided defining specifically this moving target; however, I am unwilling to agree with the notion that art has no “essence” for two reasons. First and foremost, I believe Jesus Christ is the “essence” of art and without whom nothing can be created or made. And secondly but closely related is the idea that the “essence” of art also lies in the artist/creator and not in the end product—the object. As I stated earlier, everything I make, I view as some form of self-portrait—a reflection of who I am—and it is that object that has the capacity to communicate—who I am—to others.

 

A manmade object’s capacity to communicate information about the maker is one of the significant reasons we as a society study art history. Many of the “art objects” studied in art history, would not have been classified as “art objects” by the individuals who produced them. These objects were utilitarian objects used in the home or in ceremonial rituals such as worship and or burials. Centuries later they have been classified as works of art. Why? Because, at least in part, they do in fact tell us about the people who made them—what they believed in—what they worshiped—what they feared—how they lived—and so on. Remember, I believe: The created always reflects the creator. These objects reflect their makers, as the world (His creation) reflects God, and it is that “reflection of the maker” that I believe is the real intrinsic “essence” of God’s creation and of our “artwork” and what we find so fascinating about these manmade objects. I would argue that the fascination is not, as most individuals in our current culture seem to believe, some intrinsic quality possessed by the “object” itself and considered more or less unrelated to—or even disconnected from—the maker. The attraction—fascination—is in fact something the maker has added to the object that communicates to the viewer something about who this particular artist is. So, at the core and perhaps only as a starting place, something classified, as “art”, requires a definitive object, made or created by a human to communicate to another human, at the very least, that a human made this object, irrespective of its functionality. Of course, this is an extremely broad definition and it allows for the inclusion of all manmade objects; utilitarian (functional) and non-utilitarian; objective (representational) and non-objective and the same “dilemma” presents; “anything can be art.” And, as Dr. Witcombe indicates, many find this to be “unacceptable.”

 

Why do individuals have so much difficulty with the idea that any manmade object can be called art? Because, I believe, these individuals have been taught to place more significance upon the created—the object—than they have been taught to place significance upon the creator—artist—maker of the object. The same basic truth applies here as discussed earlier, when talking about God: They [humans] exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator... (Romans 1:25, NIV1984) And, with manmade objects, we often behave in the same way. Even art historians are known to completely disregard what individual artists say about their own artwork; this, because the art historians themselves, believe they have a better understanding of “the big picture”, the hole of what is happening in the world at large and how it relates to the world of art, than do the individual artists. In the twentieth century the German term “zeitgeist” (spirit of the times) was often used to reference the larger picture within the art world and as a way to explain very similar, but seemingly unrelated changes in style taking place in the creation of “art” throughout the Western world. Michael R. Delahunt, in ArtLex Art Dictionary, states that zeitgeist is:

 

“… A German word (especially when capitalized) for the taste, outlook, or general trend of thought which is characteristic of the cultural productions of a period or generation. For example, the zeitgeist of the Neoclassical period is considered to be rationalism, whereas that of the Romantic period is sentiment. The zeitgeist of the early modern period may have been faith in salvation through technological advancement, whereas that of the postmodern period would be disdain for such expressions of certainty.”

                                                                            (http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/XYZ.html)

 

The zeitgeist approach to art and its history in the twentieth century, is in my thinking, not very much different than using the current catchword terminology of the twenty-first century such as a so-called “worldview” approach to visual classification. It can be beneficial at some level if not applied too rigidly. However, most often an imposed rigidity and the elimination of nuance becomes the tendency with these so-called worldviews. Delahunt goes on to say:

 

“Because the identification of a zeitgeist tends to obliterate differences and imply a degree of essentialism, it is safe to say that postmodern thought in general distrusts it. The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage calls use of the word zeitgeist "pretentious".”

                                                                            (http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/XYZ.html)

 

I would go on to argue that the use of the term “worldview” (a term I very much dislike) is also quite pretentious when used. I must confess, when I here someone say “worldview”, I cannot prevent myself from immediately thinking—the World does NOT have a view—no opinion. Men have opinions—views. A “so-called-worldview” is (and in my thinking, can only be) one man’s opinion—one man’s thought or belief. However, it frequently becomes a process of simplification and pigeonholing. And it can be extremely dangerous and aggressively adversarial to both individuality and freedom of thought, particularly if insisted upon by a group of individuals, as an approach or way of thinking about a particular subject, such as art and or religion. (I am uncertain as to how a group of individuals determines that they have the same worldview. I bring this up because it has become customary in higher education to discus these so-called-worldviews. And it is particularly true at Christian institutions of higher learning where the so-called-Christian-worldview is promoted (whatever that actually is). (If there were only one Christian worldview than it would seem logical to assume that there would be only one denomination—one way of practicing the so-called-Christian-worldview but there are many.) I bring this up in a discussion about art because as a Christian in the arts these so-called-Christian-worldviews frequently impact a persons approach to art. For example, and at a very basic level the Catholic Church has embraced art as a way to present and proclaim the gospel on and within the physical structures of the church buildings themselves, while along with the Protestant reformation came the complete and utter expulsion of artwork from the physical structures of protestant church buildings. And while protestant artists continued to reflect their Christian beliefs in their own works of art, these works at first glance appear secular in nature, they would have been exhibited in private homes and unless you understand the very complex iconography of the day you will not understand them to be profoundly Christian.

 

Though I do not like the terminology, I will boldly suggest that there is a clear rational for a zeitgeist in art and I believe that reason is Jesus Christ, whom I believe to be the “essence” of art and without whom nothing can be created or made. Without question I believe He has the power and influence to facilitate a “zeitgeist”. So, as He interacts through creation with each individual artist (regardless of that artist’s awareness of His presence in the process) broad similarities will likely appear, but so too will appear, the nuances of the individual artists—themselves created intentionally, as uniquely different individuals, by God, through Christ. I think it extremely unwise to gloss-over and ignore these unique differences. However, so frequently even within the frame work of the Christian tradition (at least the Protestant tradition I am familiar with) the viewer is unable or unwilling to step outside of his own frame of reference—his so-called-Christian-worldview—and into the artist’s frame of reference (who may in fact also be Christian, but with a differing so-called-Christian-worldview). The inability or unwillingness of the viewer to approach a work of art from the worldview of the creating artist, allows the viewer to judge the artist’s work as inappropriate, offensive or even sinful, even when the artist may have in fact intended the work to be motivational and or sacred. I am certain that the non-Christian-world will regard many of my ideas about art as preposterous. I am equally convinced that many Christians will attack these ideas with an equal ferocity, not because they doubt Christ but because these ideas do not comply with the so-called-Christian-worldview that they have adopted as their own.

 

I am not suggesting that a manmade object, not even an art object, is by nature sacred. I am however suggesting that the act of creating—making something—is sacred—an encounter with Jesus Christ, regardless of the individual’s recognition of Christ in that encounter. And though I believe making something places you in the presence of Jesus Christ, I do not believe that what is made in these encounters is, or always will be “good” or even morally appropriate. The spiritual condition of mankind must always be taken into account—sin is always a factor. And of course, the individual that does not even believe in the person of Christ, would have little to no awareness of Christ’s presence and participation in the creating process. This idea is also difficult for those who hold the so-called-Christian-worldview that God (and Christ is God) cannot be in the presence of evil or more likely the other way around, evil cannot tolerate—survive—in the presence of God. If either of these ideas is literally true, than how is it possible that Christ died for the ungodly [?] …God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6b, 8b, NIV2011) Not only did He die for us but to do that He came to earth—fully God and fully man—and lived among and interacted with sinners—evil people. Christ lived His human life on earth in the presence of evil. And, He continues today to live His life on earth through the person of the Holy Spirit (also God) in the presence of evil. In the very house where evil is generated; that “house”, the human body; that “evil”, generated in the human mind—“evil thoughts”—and not generated by the physical flesh and bones of the body, as so many in the Christian communities that I am familiar with seem to believe. The physicality of the body—the flesh and bone—is not by nature evil and does not even have the capacity to live—let alone do evil—without the direct affect of the human mind. (I understand that technically the physical mind classifies as flesh and I am not arguing otherwise.) My point is rather that the human body is merely a vessel—a container—a receptacle. And if the individual is a believer and follower of Christ, then their body—receptacle—houses both their own mind (capable of generating tremendous evil and corrupted by sin) and their God, who is holiness and righteousness. This juxtaposition is the Gospel—the good news—God, who sent Christ, who in turn sent the Comforter (Holy Spirit) chooses to tolerate—live with—evil until the cycle of time ends and eternity begins, in order that we can be saved from our evil thoughts and deeds; not our “evil bodies” which in fact (as a Christian) serves as the very temple of God.

 

 

- - - THIS DOCUMENT IS IN DRAFT FORM AND IS CONTINUED IN THE NEXT POST - - -

THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF THE HUMAN FIGURE IN CHRISTIAN ART: NUDE OR OTHERWISE

NOTE:  The Absolute Necessity Of The Human Figure In Christian Art: Nude or Otherwise , was originally a part of this post. However, this post was originally so long that I had reached the maximum capacity for a single post and could no longer make editorial changes, so I split the post. Forgive me if this caused you any difficulty locating something. 

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