027. Courage For the Artist (Dr. Jo Ann Davidson)
This week on Advent Next theological podcast, we are continuing our discussion with Dr. Jo Ann Davidson, Professor of Systematic Theology at Andrews University. Today our topic is taken from her book entitled “Towards a Theology of Beauty,” where we explore the aesthetic nature of God and how He uses beauty, creativity, and artistry to express His character and values.
Christianity and the Artist
Today we’re exploring the topic of being both an artist and a Christian. Why is it that “artist” isn’t listed as an expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 11? Also, should an artist pursue their passions in a vocationally if there is no guarantee that they will be employed by the church?
“It’s really sad that Christians and even Adventists don’t pay our musicians. Do you know in the Old Testament temple set up, musicians were paid from the tithe just like the priests were? So music was very important and even Hezekiah when He restored worship, he said, ‘using the instruments made by David and Nathan the prophet under the instruction of God,’ so we see [music was] very closely tied [to the temple].”
The Limits of Beauty
We continue our conversation with Dr. Davidson regarding the place of artists in the church and how God uses aesthetics to glorify and assist in the mission of evangelism. While beauty and investing in aesthetics helps others to see the value we place on the gospel truths, Dr. Jo Ann Davidson also explains that there is a limit to what beauty can accomplish.
“Having an aesthetic experience is a wonderful thing, so people set that in place of a deeper relationship with God, whereas aesthetics are to help us express our adoration to God in a fuller way. It’s not something to be worshipped. It’s not religion. It’s just part of human response.”
Most importantly, however, we get another intimate view of God as He expresses Himself through His creation when we reflect that God is the ultimate artist. “Remeber Michael Angelo, the great sculptor? He writes about how he would go to the marble quarry and study pieces of marble and find one saying, ‘ah this one is good.’ But God goes to the human quarry and takes the rejected pieces of marble that nobody would use, and He says, ‘I can make something beautiful of this.’ What a great Artist He is. He doesn’t just need the perfect piece of marble. He takes our ashes and forms them into something beautiful.”