For over a thousand years, the church used to be one of the foremost patrons of the arts, nurturing the creation of countless masterworks that proclaimed the goodness, truth, and beauty of God. Art, it was recognized, could serve as a powerful supplement to propositional speech in the church’s worship and work. But the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century shook things up, raising concerns about whether art belongs in the sanctuary, whether God the Son can/should be pictured, and what the role of images is, if any, in the life of faith. Some extremists of this new movement even took to destroying the centuries-old artworks that graced their local churches.
I myself am Protestant and am also a lover of religious art, and this blog is my attempt to communicate that love, showing how images are not inherently idolatrous and can be engaged faithfully by Reformed Christians, among others.
The mission of Art & Theology is to help the church rediscover its rich heritage in the visual, literary, and musical arts and to open it up to the activity of contemporary artists, whose giftings can enable us to see God in new and different ways. Art can enhance our spiritual perception, enrich our prayer lives, stimulate renewed engagement with the Bible, make us more empathetic, challenge our beliefs in a healthy way, and bring us into more intimate contact with the world. Art testifies; it questions; it holds accountable; it stirs and reveals.
Art also slows us down: It invites us to gaze. Deeply. In doing so it fosters the habit of contemplation.
My primary interest is in biblical imagery, which the site’s content will reflect, though not exclusively. Of the various artistic disciplines, visual art receives the most emphasis, and secondarily music and poetry; fiction, film, and dance are featured occasionally.
I hope you will join me in this far-reaching study of God that takes artists as our teachers. May God bless your gazing, using it to draw you into a deeper understanding of and devotion to himself.
—Victoria E. Jones
P.S. To learn more about the impetus for my starting this blog, read the farewell post of my previous blog of five years, The Jesus Question.