Theology & The Arts

I ran across this video online, and found Jeremy Begbie’s explanation of how he relates his creativity with his faith as simply elegant.  He takes a somewhat heady philosophy, and shows in practical terms how his art form, music, unlocks the truths of the Gospel in breathtaking ways.

I took the liberty of including notes below, in case you wanted to share them with your worship team or creative group.  He offers up a most interesting case for creative expression being inextricably linked to faith, transformation and innovation.  

For me, it served as a beautiful reminder of what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world–that who we are and what we believe is communicated through what we do…and that it is meant to affect transformation in the lives and hearts of people around us.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

How does an artist who comes to faith in God relate the two worlds of:
  •  Thinking as a musician
  •  Thinking as a theologian
Two ways to view creativity in relationship to your faith:
1.  Theology for the arts – you start with a Christian world view, or doctrine or biblical text…and you apply it to the art form.  So you try to understand the art form in light of the theological world view.

2.  Theology through the arts – you start with the art form (music, art, dance, etc.)…and you ask what the art form can bring to theology.  How can the powers of creative expression help us to unlock the great truths of the Gospel?

Lessons that can be learned from considering theology through the arts:
  • The most wonderful things can come out of the most unpromising/unlikely material.  The arts show us over and over again the possibilities of transformation.  They show us how things could be.
  • Even the worst can be woven into God’s purposes.  God can take your worst mistakes and make them into His beautifully unique bits in life (ie. His “passing notes”).
  • Life is full of possibilities.  Many of us think that the only two options in our lives are Order & Dis-Order.  We’ve come to associate Order with good, and Dis-Order with evil. Order is fruitful, while Dis-Order is destructive.  But there is a third option to consider:  Non-Order or The Jazz Factor – something that is unpredictable and irregular, but is not destructive.  The real skill comes from learning the inter-play between Order and Non-Order.
    All art represents an inter-play between the given and the unpredictable.  
    One form of the given is tradition.  As a creative you are apprenticed to a tradition –  the tradition of classical music, or modern dance, or Shakespearean English, Impressionistic painting.  That is the only way you will innovate in the future. Most great innovators rely intensively on their tradition…and from within it, they begin to play around with its structure…creating a play on the traditional that  becomes something unique in its own right.  Some people try to innovate far too soon, but involves a great deal of practice and being inculcated into a tradition.  
  • You’re always innovating for a particular circumstance – innovation involves interpreting the art while being mindful of the context–innovating for the occasion.  Improvisation is the exploration of occasion.  This time, this place, these people, on this occasion. A great doctrinal example of this type of innovation in the moment is the work of the Holy Spirit…he moves on this heart, in this place, or in this congregation to affect this change…

Do you have trouble relating your faith to your creativity?
What role do you think your art plays in society?
Have you considered which themes of the Gospel are represented in your art?
Does Mr. Begbie’s perspectives on faith and art influence the way you see your art?