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Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts

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The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God's handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church. Encourages Christian artists in the pursuit of their calling and provides artists and non-artists alike a short introduction to thinking Chris The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God's handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church. Encourages Christian artists in the pursuit of their calling and provides artists and non-artists alike a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts.


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The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God's handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church. Encourages Christian artists in the pursuit of their calling and provides artists and non-artists alike a short introduction to thinking Chris The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God's handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church. Encourages Christian artists in the pursuit of their calling and provides artists and non-artists alike a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts.

30 review for Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A favorite quote: "The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false--dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity...Such a world may be nice to imagine, but A favorite quote: "The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false--dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity...Such a world may be nice to imagine, but it is not the world God sent his Son to save." -- from Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts by Philip Graham Ryken

  2. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    A great, short, biblical overview of the arts. I would highly recommend for anyone studying the arts or working in the arts. Also, a great book for students of all interests.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam Calvert

    While very brief, this book is a terrific treatise on the importance of the arts from a Biblical worldview, God's design for us to use the arts (both as humans created in His image, and as Christians re-created in the new birth), and our need to reclaim the arts from the secular culture. The aim and accomplishment of the book is really all right there in the title. I definitely recommend it to all Christians. While very brief, this book is a terrific treatise on the importance of the arts from a Biblical worldview, God's design for us to use the arts (both as humans created in His image, and as Christians re-created in the new birth), and our need to reclaim the arts from the secular culture. The aim and accomplishment of the book is really all right there in the title. I definitely recommend it to all Christians.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Want to read a book that lays the foundation for a Christian view of art? This is a book worth reading concerning this topic. It is written by Philip Graham Ryken. Ryken is the president of Wheaton College which has been compared to as the Evangelical Harvard. In under a hundred pages Ryken establishes a Christian worldview of art. I read this aloud with my wife as part of our night’s devotional read and we both enjoyed it. In addition I enjoyed it enough that half way through the book I had to Want to read a book that lays the foundation for a Christian view of art? This is a book worth reading concerning this topic. It is written by Philip Graham Ryken. Ryken is the president of Wheaton College which has been compared to as the Evangelical Harvard. In under a hundred pages Ryken establishes a Christian worldview of art. I read this aloud with my wife as part of our night’s devotional read and we both enjoyed it. In addition I enjoyed it enough that half way through the book I had to order it online as a gift for an artist in our church. There’s a lot of good discussions in this short book. Ryken lays our four fundamental principles for Christian theology of arts and among them is the principle that art is for the glory of God. This of course is the title of this book. The author examines Exodus 31 through various chapters in the book to extrapolate a biblical worldview of art and the calling of being an artist. This chapter is the one in which God worked through Bezalel and Oholiab to artistically construct the Tabernacle. I enjoyed the author’s study of the Scriptures. I also learned a bit about art as a result of reading this book, being a non-artist myself. I also appreciated the book’s explicit call for God’s aesthetic standard include goodness, truth and beauty and while we cannot sugar the dark reality of sin around us nevertheless a focus on darkness and evil can also shortchanged what is reality (grace, hope and love). There’s also a helpful discussion about how artistry can become an idolatry and how to avoid idolizing art. Overall I appreciated the nuances in this book. It also make me appreciate art more (which I was hoping to experience as a result of reading this book) but happily it also made me appreciate the artists’ calling and challenges they face as well. The conclusion of this work also preached Christ; love that! Overall I recommend it for people to read and also to give to the Christian artists you know.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    Good, but not quite substantial. My favorite quote: "Christian Art is redemptive, and this is its highest purpose. art is always an interpretation of reality, and the Christian should interpret reality in its total aspect, including the hope that has come into the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rather than giving in to meaningless and despair, Christian artists know that there is a way out." Good, but not quite substantial. My favorite quote: "Christian Art is redemptive, and this is its highest purpose. art is always an interpretation of reality, and the Christian should interpret reality in its total aspect, including the hope that has come into the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rather than giving in to meaningless and despair, Christian artists know that there is a way out."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Phillips

    Lovely booklet on art and calling. Introductory and encouraging without being exhaustive. "Even if we are not artists in our primary vocation, there is an inescapably artistic aspect to our daily experience." "Art is an imaginative activity, and in the act of creating, we reflect the mind of our Maker." Lovely booklet on art and calling. Introductory and encouraging without being exhaustive. "Even if we are not artists in our primary vocation, there is an inescapably artistic aspect to our daily experience." "Art is an imaginative activity, and in the act of creating, we reflect the mind of our Maker."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Delightful essay with some great reflections on Art, the character of God, and human calling. Read it for some reflection as I preach through Exodus.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Huff

    Short and simple, yet right on the money. Ryken nails this one - a beautiful defense for a Christian reclamation of the arts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol Bakker

    It always comes back to truth, beauty, and goodness. Some modern/postmodern art tells the truth at the expense of beauty. Christian kitsch wants to be beautiful, but it's a shallow and simplistic, ignoring the reality of a disordered world. This essay is meant, I think, as a guide for Christian artists who want to create art that "incarnates the hope of redemption." I appreciate Ryken's warning not to dismiss abstract art: Yet abstraction has God's blessing as much as any other art form. He backs It always comes back to truth, beauty, and goodness. Some modern/postmodern art tells the truth at the expense of beauty. Christian kitsch wants to be beautiful, but it's a shallow and simplistic, ignoring the reality of a disordered world. This essay is meant, I think, as a guide for Christian artists who want to create art that "incarnates the hope of redemption." I appreciate Ryken's warning not to dismiss abstract art: Yet abstraction has God's blessing as much as any other art form. He backs this up with a Makoto Fujimura piece, Trinity, on the cover. I've looked at it for two minutes without inspiration. (Should I give it twenty?) To me, it resembles the flag of Belgium. Sigh...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Art for God's Sake is a manifesto for artists of all types to do what they do for the glory of God, basically debunking the addage that art needs no reason for being, i.e, It's just "Art for art's sake." Not only is the book meant to encourage artists in their calling, it is also meant to give non-artists a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts. Some reviewers said it was too simplistic, but for someone like me (with no art background), the simplicity was a huge plus. I underl Art for God's Sake is a manifesto for artists of all types to do what they do for the glory of God, basically debunking the addage that art needs no reason for being, i.e, It's just "Art for art's sake." Not only is the book meant to encourage artists in their calling, it is also meant to give non-artists a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts. Some reviewers said it was too simplistic, but for someone like me (with no art background), the simplicity was a huge plus. I underlined something on almost every page, but will try to include just a few of the most salient quotes: "As Christians we should aspire to high aesthetic standards. All too often we settle for something that is functional, but not beautiful. . . . . Sometimes we produce what can be described only as kitsch-tacky artwork of poor quality that appeals to low tastes. The average Christian bookstore is full of the stuff..." "When we settle for trivial expressions of the truth in worship and art, we ourselves are diminished, as we suffer a loss of transcendence..." "The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false - dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity. Think of all the bright, sentimental landscapes that portray an ideal world unaffected by the Fall, or the light, cheery melodies that characterize the Christian life as one of undiminished happiness. Such a world may be nice to imagine, but it is not the world God sent his Son to save."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Starts out sounding like a very simplistic concept with obvious points and narrow scripture references but as the chapters move along the focus becomes deeper and more enduring. The author's opinion is voiced in a couple places that feel unnecessary and caught me up for a second. Luckily they did not detract from the overall message of the book. A good, quick read that is prompting me to read about the references he makes to other authors. This is my life's goal: To make art for God's sake. Starts out sounding like a very simplistic concept with obvious points and narrow scripture references but as the chapters move along the focus becomes deeper and more enduring. The author's opinion is voiced in a couple places that feel unnecessary and caught me up for a second. Luckily they did not detract from the overall message of the book. A good, quick read that is prompting me to read about the references he makes to other authors. This is my life's goal: To make art for God's sake.

  12. 4 out of 5

    vittore paleni

    Good and solid but rather light. In my opinion Rookmaaker's shot booklet is much better on the subject. Good and solid but rather light. In my opinion Rookmaaker's shot booklet is much better on the subject.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dalmond Bodden

    The arts I recommend this little book to anyone thinking through the arts with regards to sacred and secular and definitely for the “Christian artist”.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    A must read for any Christian artist. God cares about your art and has called you to it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ryann Turner

    Love!! Helpful in showing how to communicate the value of art to the Christian faith and the necessity for GOOD art that reflects God's artistry. Love!! Helpful in showing how to communicate the value of art to the Christian faith and the necessity for GOOD art that reflects God's artistry.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Book Review: Art for God's Sake Author: Philip Graham Ryken Format: Softback Topic: Art Theory Scope: A Christian Primer on Art Theory and Criticism Purpose: To encourage Christians to see art correctly and Christian Artists to make art that glorifies the creator. Structure: There are 6 chapters in the book and an introduction. They are all really short essays covering a topic about how God sees art and our responsibility. What it does well: *This is a great primer. Ryken does give the reader a desire Book Review: Art for God's Sake Author: Philip Graham Ryken Format: Softback Topic: Art Theory Scope: A Christian Primer on Art Theory and Criticism Purpose: To encourage Christians to see art correctly and Christian Artists to make art that glorifies the creator. Structure: There are 6 chapters in the book and an introduction. They are all really short essays covering a topic about how God sees art and our responsibility. What it does well: *This is a great primer. Ryken does give the reader a desire to promote the arts. *Ryken really clings to promoting the arts "for God's sake". Every point he makes is pointing to this larger goal. *The overall feeling of the book is supremely hopeful. Ryken doesn't spend too much time chastising the Church for treating artists badly or being pessimistic about the current state of art today. Instead, he continually points out that artists glorify God and the Church can partner with God in using art to bring about the kingdom in a real and true way. What it lacks: *This book is really short. Don't expect a definitive statement that covers every possible scenario. *The author uses the term "calling" in a way I struggle with. He explains that God "calls" artists to be artists. I do not doubt that God has specifically asked some people to become artists, but it seems that our everyday experience is one more of gifting and glorifying God through choosing which gifts we will employ. Not a big deal, but I don't really see this idea of "calling" in the Bible in this way. Some quick highlights: "Art is always tempted to glory in itself, and nearly every form of art has been to communicate values that are contrary to Scripture. Art is as fallen as any other aspect of human existence."-12 "Art is an imaginative activity, and in the act of creating, we reflect the mind of our Maker."-24 "Artists also avoid idolizing the arts by resisting the temptation to isolation and instead living in the Christian community, where worship is given to God alone, where a God-centered orientation to life is the basis for daily discipleship, and where every earthly calling finds its true significance in relation to the higher calling of God."-49 "...making art is an expression of our love--love for God and love for our neighbor."50 Recommendation: This is a good book. I recommend it to anyone struggling to become an artist, and to churches (small groups, pastoral staff) to help learn how to encourage the artistic among us.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Berg

    I care about the premise of this book. And I don't disagree with anything here, per se--but it's hard to disagree with something that says so little. The takes are all lukewarm at best, and nothing particularly fresh is presented either theologically or in terms of creative theory. In the group of people taking up critical writing in an area where they have no skin in the game--that is, people who write about creative work without actually doing any themselves--there are two kinds: Helen Vendler I care about the premise of this book. And I don't disagree with anything here, per se--but it's hard to disagree with something that says so little. The takes are all lukewarm at best, and nothing particularly fresh is presented either theologically or in terms of creative theory. In the group of people taking up critical writing in an area where they have no skin in the game--that is, people who write about creative work without actually doing any themselves--there are two kinds: Helen Vendlers, who can somehow pull it off at the annoyance of the rest of us, and then everyone else. This book goes in the second category. Sorry to B. One more thing: I say I care about the premise, and I do. But I also disagree with part of it--that is the idea that the arts need to be, as the subtitle says, "recovered." I'm not sure why evangelical christianity is so insistent on seeing the state of the arts as somehow more polluted or devoid of christian influence than other areas. Maybe because the nature of art is such that *good* art will rarely be explicitly apologetic? Maybe because we just aren't paying attention? If you spend any time immersed in the world of creative work, it should be obvious that there is plenty of contemporary work of serious relevance to issues of faith and spirituality. Unsure that we really need these sort of manifestos in defense of being christian artists.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Prata

    This was a good book, but perhaps my view was spoiled because I'd taken RC Sproul's 12-week course Recovering the Beauty of the Arts, which was extremely similar in tone and philosophy. However, being 12 weeks and a full-on course, the course was was more deep soI didn't learn anything new. The book was a good overview of how we should approach art as a Christian- not as an extra but as a devotion to God, who IS Beauty. As One Amazon reviewer said, Art for God's Sake is a very digestible little bo This was a good book, but perhaps my view was spoiled because I'd taken RC Sproul's 12-week course Recovering the Beauty of the Arts, which was extremely similar in tone and philosophy. However, being 12 weeks and a full-on course, the course was was more deep soI didn't learn anything new. The book was a good overview of how we should approach art as a Christian- not as an extra but as a devotion to God, who IS Beauty. As One Amazon reviewer said, Art for God's Sake is a very digestible little book that lays a foundation for further learning. The back of the book contains two pages of further reading for a more complete study on a Biblical understanding of Art If you consider this a starter book, or a foundation for further study, it is well worth the money and the time. Recommended

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Lovely little book on importance of art from a Christian perspective. An introduction to Christian aesthetics, a discussion on God-ordained art from a biblical perspective, and an affirmation to Christian artists that they can be called and that calling as an artist is divinely affirmed and just as important as others' callings. It is very encouraging to young artists, and is a "call to arms," if you will, about the importance of having true Christian artists on the world stage. Lovely little book on importance of art from a Christian perspective. An introduction to Christian aesthetics, a discussion on God-ordained art from a biblical perspective, and an affirmation to Christian artists that they can be called and that calling as an artist is divinely affirmed and just as important as others' callings. It is very encouraging to young artists, and is a "call to arms," if you will, about the importance of having true Christian artists on the world stage.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Therese Kay

    Some excellent points that I really enjoyed. He talks about both the falleness of art and the redemptive power of art as well. Art and artists are no different than the rest of creation and the call of an artist is no lesser or greater than the calling of a priest or missionary. My favorite idea is that it was in the context of Creation that God says man (and woman!) was created in His image. Embrace that creativity! This is a very short book but packs some powerful thoughts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    A short book, explores art from a scriptural point of view using Bezalel and Oholiab from the book of Exodus as an example. Since I had just read Exodus I found the author's ideas interesting. "the true purpose of art is the same as the true purpose of anything: it is not for ourselves or for our own self-expression, but for the service of others and the glory of God. Or to put all of this another way, making art is an expression of our love-love for God and love for our neighbor." A short book, explores art from a scriptural point of view using Bezalel and Oholiab from the book of Exodus as an example. Since I had just read Exodus I found the author's ideas interesting. "the true purpose of art is the same as the true purpose of anything: it is not for ourselves or for our own self-expression, but for the service of others and the glory of God. Or to put all of this another way, making art is an expression of our love-love for God and love for our neighbor."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Danny Freed

    Like every short book, it could have been shorter. But Dr. Ryken lays out a very compelling, scripture based argument for the importance of ART. Or God is a creator and He created us to create this that reflect Him. He addresses the sacred/secular divide well, and encourages artists to pursue their God-given calling to make good, true, and beautiful art.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

    Quick read. Enlightening. Appreciated the admission that many Christians value kitsch over quality, that many churches see art as impractical or threatening, and that being an artist is a calling. This book is a much-needed call to quality and excellence for serious creatives who are Believers. Goes well with Mako Fujimura's Culture Care. Quick read. Enlightening. Appreciated the admission that many Christians value kitsch over quality, that many churches see art as impractical or threatening, and that being an artist is a calling. This book is a much-needed call to quality and excellence for serious creatives who are Believers. Goes well with Mako Fujimura's Culture Care.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Greg Skodacek

    Short and Rich "Thus the true purpose of art is the same as the true purpose of anything: it is not for ourselves or for our own self-expression, but for the service of others and the glory of God. Or to put all of this another way, making art is an expression of our love-love for God and love for our neighbor." Philip Graham Ryken Amen. Short and Rich "Thus the true purpose of art is the same as the true purpose of anything: it is not for ourselves or for our own self-expression, but for the service of others and the glory of God. Or to put all of this another way, making art is an expression of our love-love for God and love for our neighbor." Philip Graham Ryken Amen.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Middlestead

    2019 Book Challenge: Christian Living A nice little, but rich, treatise on art and the Christian. Four biblical principles for a Christian Theology of the Arts are fleshed out: 1.) The artist’s call and gift must come from God. 2.) God loves all kinds of art. 3.) God maintains high standards for goodness, truth, and beauty. 4. Art is for the glory of God.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Gearhart

    Tiny book. I’m surprised it is on the Ambleside Online list. It’s got some good info, but it felt like a skeleton, not a living book. This isn’t one I’ll hand to my kids unless they’re specifically interested in the topic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    A brief and helpful introduction to a biblical perspective on art. A great place to start. (At least some of the content can also be found in Ryken's commentary on Exodus) A brief and helpful introduction to a biblical perspective on art. A great place to start. (At least some of the content can also be found in Ryken's commentary on Exodus)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris J

    So...why did he write this?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    a short and simple little booklet on art and that is should be done to the glory of God

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    A super encouraging read that has validated my talents and my hope to be able to use them to bring glory to God. This book has reassured me that it can be done!

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