Art and Scripture  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , , ,

At a time when the church holds a low, unbiblical view of art, Makoto Fujimura has developed an aesthetic that embraces his cultural heritage, his times, and the gospel without compromise. This short video introduces his project illustrating the biblical Gospels. It is an expression of grace and beauty and truth that is simply stunning. If you do not appreciate nonrepresentational art (sometimes called "abstract art") I would urge you to set aside time to learn the language of this expression of creativity. Mako has written extensively about art, and his art, and that can be a good place to begin (which you can find here). Don't hurry. Much of the beauty in God's creation is "abstract" (a sunset, for example) yet we still are stunned by it and recognize that it communicates real truth (God's existence and glory). This project needs to be embraced by God's people, not in theory but in practice, in other words with money (buy a copy) and understanding.

Makoto Fujimura - The Art of "The Four Holy Gospels" from Crossway on Vimeo.

This entry was posted at Monday, January 17, 2011 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Thanks for the post. I commented on this project on my blog.

I love Makoto's comment about "a language of homewardness."

January 17, 2011 at 12:22 PM

His language is as beautiful as his painting, isn't it. And so profoundly true.

January 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM
John Doe  

I fail to see any command in scripture for the church to engage in art as a ministry. Indeed scripture condemns sensuality (Galations 5:19). Art is always a form of wealth (treasure) and scripture condemns those who pursue wealth (Mark 10:23). Perhaps the church should be more concerned with sharing the gospel to the unsaved, nurturing holiness among its members, and caring for the vulnerable. That is what I see taught in scripture and seems to be the focus of most conservative evangelical churches I have attended.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

January 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM

"We today have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home." Brilliant.

January 23, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Indeed. Brilliant.
And sadly true. May that change.

January 24, 2011 at 7:56 AM

John Doe:

Thanks for raising these issues—they are important.

I would urge you to think more deeply about your approach to Scripture. Seeking what is called proof texts, in this case, a “command in scripture for the church to engage in art as a ministry” is to misunderstand the nature of Scripture. This is appropriate for how-to manuals that are written to provide step-wise instructions on every possible topic. The Bible, on the other hand, is God’s revelation of himself in history centered in Christ. It is an unfolding revelation of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration that must shape our thinking and living, including our understanding of art. (For more on this, please see my post for September 20, 2010.)

Art is not rooted in the Fall, as your comments argue. Instead art is an expression of human creativity and culture that is rooted in Creation, in the nature of God in whose image we are made. This is why Adam’s poetry in Genesis 2:23 is both heard by God and included in the canon. Your willingness to dismiss art as “sensuality” and “treasure,” thus reveals a failure to embrace the biblical teaching concerning God, human beings, and creativity in Creation. Certainly in a Fallen world creativity and art are broken and can be misused as idols, just as every good gift of God can be misused, but even in fallen human beings the image of God is not erased. (For more on this, please see my post for October 13, 2008.)

What I am expressing here in too-brief form is explored in Francis Schaeffer’s excellent booklet, Art and the Bible (InterVarsity Press). Please read it.

January 24, 2011 at 9:51 AM

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