It’s tempting to quickly respond, “Sure, why shouldn’t they?” But, let me share with you how I struggled with that question.
A secular humanist would say that studying art develops a person’s creativity and encourages self-expression. This answer reflects the humanist’s goal of promoting the potential of man, and we are so familiar with it that it sounds right. Let’s look at it again, however, from the perspective of a person of faith who has embraced the idea that “we are not our own,” we have been “bought with a price,” and we are chosen members of a royal priesthood. From that perspective, something is amiss.
That’s where I was years ago as I struggled with how I could commit myself to an activity dedicated to developing my creativity and expressing my self and at the same time profess that all of my life was to glorify Him. I love participating in the visual and theatrical arts. Did God want me to give those activities up? That is exactly what I did for a good number of years. I told God that unless I could glorify Him through those activities, I wouldn’t pursue them.
In the meantime, I studied scripture and served in various capacities at my church where I periodically used my skills in both the visual and theatrical arts. Eventually I began to see that the problem was with the secular humanist’s goal for art. Could there be another goal for art? Could God have a goal for art? Amazingly, Exodus 31:1-11 says that God’s Spirit gave artistic skills to certain people so that they could express in a visible way those things that He had invisibly planned. Additionally, in Genesis we are told that God is the ultimate Creator. Since He created us in His image, we are also creative by nature, but the purpose of our creativity is to reflect His. Genesis also tells us that He created the visible world, and when He SAW it He said that it was very good. Does that make God the first art critic? When we combine all of that with Romans 1:20, we discover that God’s visible world reveals His invisible nature. We can get to know God better by learning to see His visible world, but scripture complains over and over again about people who have eyes that do not see.
Oh, wait a minute. . . There it is! That’s the reason for people of faith to study art! Art teaches our eyes to see. Whether or not we ever do anything artistically great or not, the process of studying art teaches us to see God’s creation better, and thereby we come to know Him better. Art advances our spiritual journey. In my book, The Genesis Approach to Art, to be released soon, I provide a guide for using art as part of one’s spiritual journey.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.