How should Christians think about art? Is art something frivolous and “extra,” like a hobby? Is it an arcane interest accessible mainly to specialists or the well-to-do?
I’m convinced that art is in fact far more important to the Christian life than we often believe. After all, we all participate in art every day, whether through the way we adorn our homes and yards, or the way we outfit our offices, or the way our places of worship are designed. Art is all around us. We see and hear it, but that doesn’t mean we give it the thought and attention we should. Art is a profoundly theological subject. Here are some books to help you think more deeply about the intersection of faith and art.
Introductory Books on Faith and Art
The following books serve as introductions to thinking about art as a Christian. Although I’m describing them as introductory, they are excellent for the already-committed art lover, too:
- 1. Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer is a short, accessible introduction that first offers a brief survey of what the Bible teaches about art, then offers some helpful principles for evaluating art.
- 2. Russ Ramsey’s brilliant book, Rembrandt Is in the Wind: Learning to Love Art through the Eyes of Faith is like a mini-course in both art and art history, viewed through the lens of the Christian faith. This book is for art aficionados and newcomers alike and offers a theological education as well as one on art.
- 3. Terry Glaspey’s Discovering God through the Arts: How We Can Grow Closer to God by Appreciating Beauty & Creativity is another primer on art. Like Rembrandt is in the Wind, Glaspey doesn’t just offer lessons about art, but provides a robust theological framework for why art and beauty matter.
- 4. A forthcoming book I’m personally very excited about (having had the opportunity to read the manuscript in advance) is Redeeming Vision: A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art by Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt. While written for the layperson, this book goes more deeply into technical aspects of art than many introductory works do. But it also is full of rich theological and cultural analyses that equip the reader for encounters with art out in the world beyond the pages of this book.