Art and the Bible

I just finished reading the short pamphlet “Art and the Bible” by Francis A. Schaeffer. It encapsulated all my thoughts on what art is, specifically what Christian art is and how it should be made.

Here are some excerpts from the essays that I particularly loved{ this is long, but worth it! }


The arts and sciences do have a place in the Christian life–they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself.

How should an artist begin to do his work as an artist? I would insist that he begin his work as an artist by setting out to make a work of art.

As a Christian, we know why a work of art has value. Why? First because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator

Being in the image of God, we are called upon to have creativity. In fact, it is part of the image of God to be creative

The third basic notion of the nature of art–the one I think is right, the one that really produces great art and the possibility of great art–is that the artist makes a body of work and this body of work shows his world view.

I emphasize the body of an artist’s work because it is impossible for any single painting, for example, to reflect the totality of an artist’s view of reality. But when we see a collection of an artist’s paintings or  a series of a poet’s poems or a number of a novelist’s novels, both the outline and some of the details of the artists’ conception of life shine through.

Christian art today should be twentieth-century art. Art changes. Language changes. If a Christian’s art is not twentieth-century art, it is an obstacle to him being heard. It makes him different in a way in which there is no necessity for difference.

If you are a Christian artist, you should be working in the art forms of the twentieth-century, showing the marks of the culture out of which you have come, reflecting your own country and your own contemporariness and embodying something of the nature of the world as seen from a Christian standpoint.

The Christian world view should be divided into what I call a major and minor theme… the minor theme is the abnormality of the revolting world. The major theme is the opposite of the minor; it is the meaningfulness and purposefulness of life. If our Christian art only emphasizes the major theme, then it is not fully Christian but simply romantic art.

Christian art is by no means always religious art, that is, art which deals with religious themes…Consider God the Creator. Is God’s creation totally involved with religious subjects? What about the universe? the birds? the trees? the mountains? …When God created out of nothing by his spoken word, he did not just create “religious” objects. If God made the ocean, indeed it’s worth writing poetry about. It is worth man’s while to create works upon the basis of the great works God has already created.

This whole notion is rooted in the realization that Christianity is not just involved with “salvation” but with the total man in the total world….Man has a value because he is made in the image of God and thus man as man is an important subject for Christian art. Man as man–with his emotions, his feelings, his body, his life–this is an important subject matter for poetry and novels. I’m not talking here about man’s lostness but his mannishness. In God’s world the individual counts. therefore, Christian art should deal with the individual.

Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person who is a Christian.

The Christian’s life is to be an art work. The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.


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