• Jacob Hess

On Christianity and Creativity: Part 3



For my first blog series I wanted to share with you my own personal aesthetic.


My goal has been to give you a window into why I create what I create, but I also wanted to invite you on a journey with me, a journey into deeper understanding as we together explore the meaning of beauty.


A few weeks ago I shared with you what I think are some defining principles of what it means to engage in art from a Christian perspective, but today I want to share with you the final aspect of my aesthetic: the reality that all of us, whether a formal artist or not, have some creativity to share with the world.


R.G. Collingwood in The Principles of Art explores the development of the term art in ways that I believe shed light on the innate creativity of any work, whether formally artistic or not. He writes, “Ars in ancient Latin, like τέχνη [technē] in Greek, means something quite different. It means a craft or specialized form of skill, like carpentry or smithying or surgery. The Greeks and Romans had no conception of what we call art as something different from craft.”[1] From Collingwood’s research it seems that what we typically consider as art today is far narrower in view than what was consider art in the ancient past. The Greek and Latin terms simply refer to a specific “group of crafts,”[2] which would include anything done with some skill and readily recognized by a larger audience. I think that this points to a fundamental truth: the essential creativity within every person. I would argue that all of us, made in the image of the Creator God, have been given a hint of creativity, a desire to make something good, something beautiful.[3] This call of creativity, to beauty in life, is not dependent upon skill in the traditional arts.


Whether one is a homemaker, a millworker, or a painter, we can all use our gift of creativity in going about the work we have been given to do.


For the Christian, however, we have a special responsibility to echo God’s beauty, to reverberate back to Him the love that He so freely gives to us. I agree with Francis Schaeffer, in his book Art and the Bible that

“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.”[4]

Good art is about starting a conversation; connecting with others in a way that is attractive and that somehow creates a bridge of understanding,[5] which is exactly what a good life does. Lives marked by genuine love, lives that echo back the grace given to us, can become signs of a beauty that extends far beyond us to the source of real and lasting beauty: God Himself.[6]


To summarize my Christian aesthetic one last time it is threefold. First, the Christian artist has a responsibility to bring the gospel to bear on her or his work,[7][8] creating things that are of quality[9] and that connect to the intended audience.[10] Secondly, as Christian consumers of art we are called to both enjoy art for the sake of its creativity[11] and to interpret art “in light of the gospel.”[12] Finally, every Christian has a calling to use the creativity she or he has been given by “our creator God”[13][14] to bring beauty into this dark and broken world.[15]


This last point is really the most important for from it all the others flow.


To be good artists and good consumers of art we need, in reliance upon the grace of the Spirit leading us and guiding us, to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ, the Beautiful One. As we do, everything in our lives becomes that much more beautiful, reflecting the beauty of the One who gave away all to save us by no merit of our own.


These are just some of my thoughts on the relationship between Christianity and creativity. It would be great to hear from you all so feel free to comment below or message me. Let’s keep the conversation going! Also, feel free to download my free e-book, Echoes of Beauty: A Study In Christian Aesthetics, which dives deeper into all these matters.


Be sure to come back in a few weeks when we’ll discuss some of what the Bible says about beauty and creativity!

[1] R. G., Collingwood. The Principles of Art. (Read Books Ltd.. Kindle Edition). [2] Ibid. [3] Francis A., Schaeffer. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Revised ed. 51. [4] Ibid., 94. [5] R. G., Collingwood. The Principles of Art. [6] Francis A., Schaeffer. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Revised ed. 94. [7] Bret, Lott. Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian. 42. [8] Mike, Cosper. The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. 23. [9] Bret, Lott. Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian. 84 [10] Francis A., Schaeffer. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Revised ed. 75. [11] Francis A., Schaeffer. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Revised ed. 51. [12] Mike, Cosper. The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. 214. [13] Bret, Lott. Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian. 42. [14] Francis A., Schaeffer. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Revised ed. 51. [15] Ibid., 94.

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Jacob E. Hess
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