This is a three-post report that covers three overdue topics. First, in this post and the next, I report on two speakers I heard at Redeemer Presbyterian’s InterArts Fellowship two weeks ago: Dr. Gordon Fee and W. David O. Taylor. InterArts is part of Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work: a ministry designed to help people integrate their Christian doctrine and commitment into their vocations. In a third post, I (very briefly) review Taylor’s new book, For the Beauty of the Church. Finally, I recount some of Peter Hitchens' talk at Socrates in the City. Enjoy!
I. Dr. Gordon Fee on “Artists as people of the Divine Presence”
Dr. Fee, a well-known Reformed scholar, talked about the Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit in relation to our work as artists. He was mostly focusing on visual artists (painters, sculptors, etc), but his comments applied to all the arts, as well. His overall point was that artists are people of the Divine Presence: everything we do filled is with the Holy Spirit because of the Incarnation. The Incarnation allows us to discover that God is “just like Jesus Christ!”—i.e., that Christ lived out God’s character for us in a visual, tangible (and, I would add, write-able) way. Because of this, we must learn to live without envy. Especially, we must learn not to envy other’s artistic gifts, but to appreciate and receive them as microcosms of the Incarnation. They are God’s gifts as they are manifest in others. Therefore, we must do our art with personal integrity, and perhaps to bring joy to someone else. Think, live, and walk in the Spirit. Do our work with personal delight as a gift to others, joining in the act of creation.
Dr. Fee made two others points that I really loved. First, he said we need to get rid of “Christian” as an adjective: rather than being a “Christian artist” (or Christian poet, etc.) be an artist who is also a Christian. We are divine image-bearers, so we do not need to paint a superficial “Christian” veneer over our work; the image of God is manifested in the integrity of our work.
Second, he emphasized that everything is gift. He went so far as to say that everything outside of hell is grace. That must be the basic orientation of our lives. Everything outside of hell is grace. Our art is grace. Our sufferings are grace.
And that last point, that our sufferings are grace, tied right into David Taylor’s talk.