The disciplines of art and theology used to be inextricably connected in the life of the church. Artists were theologians, students of God who sought to convey his beauty and truth using material means—and the result was some of the greatest masterworks of Western culture. And then the Protestant Reformation happened, and those who identified with the movement distanced themselves from images, raising “assertoric prose” to a level of supreme authority.
I myself am Protestant, and I am also a lover of art; the two are not mutually exclusive! I want to bring art and theology back into conversation with each other. I want my fellow reformers to reclaim the use of art in both private and corporate worship—not to replace the verbal but to supplement it—to engage it as an alternative mode of knowing.
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 religious 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 integrated 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.