A while ago I was speaking with a coworker of mine and we were talking about our beliefs. As the conversation developed he said that I should I meet one of his friends. He told me that I should do this because I should see his tattoo. He says it is his religion.
No matter what you think about body art, you must understand that my coworker’s friend was making a beautiful statement about art. As a matter of fact, it sums up quite well what we are thinking about this evening: An artist’s view of life is inherent in his work. How an artist views reality will affect what he produces, and how he produces it. A work of art reveals what an artist believes.
You may take a trip to an art museum and view various works of art. You may be impressed with an artist’s use of color, you may be repulsed at the subject presented in the work, but you may be clueless about the significance of the work or ignorant of what is being communicated by it. After walking through an art gallery you may realize that there were all different kinds of pictures. But you may not realize why they are different.
For instance, if we look at these pictures, you will see that they are quite different
But why are they different? They are different because they are produced by different people who live in different places and different times. They are different because each of the artists thinks differently! Each of these artists was influenced by the thought patterns that pervaded their age.
A professor has said, “There is no better way to understand a basic worldview of a period of history than to study its art forms.” This is quite true. Art is never created in a vacuum. It always reflects the time and worldview in which they live. No matter how creative an artist is he will express the worldview of his time.
This is why it has been said that artists are "the prophets of one's age." Artists interact with the world of ideas. They communicate those ideas, and sometimes even tell us where those ideas are going.
Tonight we are gathering together not for a study in culture, but for a study in cultures. I have entitled this evening’s study “The Heart of Art.” We will be examining various works of art, but our study will not be “surfacy.” We will be going deeper. We will be going inside the minds and hearts of the artist. We will be looking at how the artists’ inner world because the way people paint flows out of the way someone sees the world.
My goal this evening is basically twofold. The first, and most general goal, is simply to help enhance your appreciation of art and of the arts in general. This I want to do by helping you to understand something of the context. Art is never without its context. To understand a work of art it is often important to realize something about the “who, when, and where” in which it was produced. As it is, a man who shapes a sculpture is often himself shaped by his culture, or the ideas prevalent in that culture. To critique artwork, and ultimately to appreciate artwork, one must have some sort of understanding of these fundamental underpinnings.
My second goal is to help you has to do with my occupation. I am a pastor. As such, I am concerned about the formation of ideas and the consequences of those ideas. To put it another way, I am concerned about what people believe. That is because those beliefs and one's philosophy of life has eternal significance.
Is that true though? If that is your philosophy of life, you have to ask what the point of living is?
You see, postmodernism has consequences (and I would say, consequences of eternal significance!). You might look at this and think it is nothing more than an expensive piece of garbage...and I would agree to some extent. But it is also indicative of what many people in our culture believe.
Someone has said that artists are unique in that they are like “prophets.” He went on to explain that artists are sensitive to the ideas & thought patterns of their time. They often show us where those ideas are going. Tonight I want us to listen to what those artists have to say.
...to be continued.
Pantheism is the idea that god is in everything and everything is god. It holds that the ultimate goal of life is to recognize your oneness with the universe.
While it is typically associated with the Eastern world, it has become rather popular in America since the 1960's and 70's.
Another Hollywood example is the Disney movie The Lion King and its soundtrack hit The Circle of Life, by Elton John. These both seek to emphasize the unity of all things. The focus is overtly centered on nature and its deeper spiritual composition.
One summed up the the pantheistic overtone of Elton John's song by saying it is about “Being born, living from the bounty of the earth, working and looking after the earth - and upon your demise, returning to the earth to enrich the soil for the next generation that have to learn, live, and give.”
One can also see an overt pantheistic theme in the recent box office hit Avatar.
The pantheistic worldview is not limited to the realm of Hollywood though. In recent years there has been an increase in the practice of yoga. Even Christian organizations advertise Christian yoga seminars. What many do not know is that yoga is a pantheistic practice.
Yoga rose out of Eastern religions and was originally designed to assist with the process of uniting with the One. The gestures and emphasis on clearing of the mind were all means of advancing towards Nirvana.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with stretching or twisting yourself up like a pretzel. What is important to understand is that yoga has a distinct spirituality at its base that is opposed to Christian thought.
I had a similar experience when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We decided to take a few Lamaze classes prior to the birth. What we found was that our instructor sought to have us escape reality through relaxation techniques. This was essentially the same thing found in yoga.
Another realm in which pantheistic thought is found is the environmentalism movement of the last 40-50 years. Much of what goes on in the name of environmental activism is the result of people thinking nature is too holy to touch or mess with. Nature is essentially deified (we even talk about Mother Nature). Some extremists may even go so far as to say that any tampering with nature is perceived as an attack on the life-force that is in nature.
Of course, not all environmental activists would go so far. Yet, though they tout a much more mild tone, their premise is the same. Nature becomes an idol, and it “leads to a…withdrawal from any meaningful tasks in subduing the created world for God and the material benefit of man.”
Take, for instance, the global warming issue of recent years. The basic premise of global warming activism is that we must cease our cultivation of the world’s resources and do away with technological advancements in the name of saving the earth. This is profoundly earth worship.
The influence of this movement has been profound. Environmental issues are typically routine topics for debate in public policy. As well, it is not uncommon for elementary school children to sing songs in the praise of nature. It may seem harmless to parents, but it is a form of earth worship.
All of these serve as just a few examples of how prevalent pantheism is in our culture. God willing, we will have eyes to discern the many other places this false religion expresses itself.
 Kevin Clausen, Environmentalism, a Modern Idolotry
A friend once said of her son who was advancing through his teenage years, “It was a lot easier when all you had to worry about was whether or not Barney had an agenda.” Another friend of mine once said “Leave it to Beaver is perhaps the most Satanic show that ever aired.” Such may at first seem like funny comments, but they emphasize well the point of worldviews.
Does Barney have an agenda? Maybe he doesn’t intend to be a radical purple crusader, but he does send messages about life and morality to kids.
I'm not saying that parents need to ban Barney from the home. I'm simply saying, we need to be aware of worldview issues that are prevalent wherever we go or in whatever we watch.
All of this, of course, gets much more involved as you get older. Consider the following review one mother gave of the movie Gladiator:
You are probably thinking, "It's just a movie!" But remember that the powerful images in which these messages are wrapped can meet with impressionable minds. Whether or not they are conscious of it, some may walk out of the theater having absorbed the sermon in picture.
All in all, worldviews are everywhere and they shape lives! For instance, the first 150 years of America’s history children were taught from the New England Primer, which started out “A -- In Adam’s fall, sinned we all.” It continued to go through each of the letters of the alphabet in a similar manner.
B -- Heaven to find? The Bible mind!
C -- Christ crucified, For sinners died.
D -- The deluge drown'd the Earth around.
The whole of the workbook contained prayers and other items of Christian significance, such as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. When it came to the education of children the early American people were consciously centered on Christian principles.
In the 20th century the New England Primer was replaced with the McGuffey Readers. The content of which went like so:
Lesson 1: The dog ran.
Lesson 2. The cat is on the mat
The consciously Christian perspective was replaced by a more humanistic worldview. God had been erased from the picture and life was now simply about cats and dogs.
Today another seismic shift is taking place. Early elementary children are starting to read things like “Heather Has Two Mommies.”
How did we come to this? It was the evolution of ideas. Once the Christian worldview was eradicated, education could go in a new direction. It was now free to cross boundaries of morality and develop its own pedagogy.
The promise given to Adam after his fall was that the seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan. Though he would bruise His heal, Satan would be brought down by means of a detrimental blow.
With the birth of Cain one reading with fresh eyes would wonder, "Is this the one?" He proves to be a great disappointment though, as he kills his brother, Able. Most certainly his fiendish act reveals that he is not the promised deliverer.
I wonder if there is an intended irony in the passage. For it reads that Cain "rose up against Able his brother and killed him." (Genesis 4:8) The action of his rising up and smiting (as the word kill may be translated) almost makes it sound like Able received a blow from above--that is, upon his head.
If this is true, the passage paints Cain as one who is blatantly anti-Christ.
Along with the audio you can follow the power point presentation that also accompanied the lesson. This may be helpful when viewing the statistics and presentation of the facts.
In 1954 William Golding published the classic “The Lord of the Flies.” The story is about a handful of British boys who get stranded on an island, without any parents or authorities. The story then develops how these boys, though highly intelligent and surrounded by a paradisiacal, setting, descend into savage barbarity.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of listening to the audio book version of this work. What was interesting about this though, was that the company who put out the audio version included an interview that the author gave regarding the book. In that interview Golding revealed his main motivation for writing the book. He said, “I wanted to tell what would really happen if you left a bunch of boys to themselves without any form of authority.” From what I could tell, Golding was perturbed by the endless stories like Peter-Pan, where there are good little kids doing good little things.
I will not give away the ending of the book if you have not read (or listened!) to it. I will say though that the depiction is definitely not Peter-Pan-ish. The story is tragic and rather dark. That ought to be evident enough from the fact that the title of the book is “The Lord of the Flies.” This epitaph is one of the names that is applied to Satan in the Bible; Beelzebub.
Why this title, when never once is this reference mentioned in the script? It is hinting real identity of man, even from his youth. Paradise has been lost and it cannot ever be regained if man is left to himself.
In my last post on A Christian Worldview, More than Just Salvation, someone who commented objected to the idea of a Christian view of economics. It was absurd to him to think that the Bible had anything to say on the topic of Keynesian economics, market commodities, and such.
I gave a brief response in that comment thread, but I thought I would post this podcast that I did a couple years ago on Christian Economics with economics professor Sasha Walicord. It doesn't deal with those topics per se, but it does serve to show how the Bible addresses these kinds of issues.
The show can be divided into two halves. The first deals with a brief overview and introduction to the concept of Christian economics. The second half deals with one particular issue in the marketplace; that of inflation, and how today's dollar is not only being devalued, but is in danger of becoming completely worthless.
To speak of a “Christian worldview” may sound foreign to many people who claim to be Christians. This is because they are used to thinking about Christianity solely in terms of spiritual salvation. Salvation is a distinct aspect of the Christian faith, and an exceedingly prominent one at that. But the notion of salvation does not encapsulate the whole of Christianity.
Again, many Christians have a narrow vision when it comes to Christianity. A professor of economics at a Christian college opens his class each semester by asking his students what the Bible says about money and economics. He says that he is met with blank stares. Only a few of his students recognize that the Bible talks about the issue in great depth.
When it comes to politics, many Christians choose to simply avoid the topic. Or, if they do get into it, they simply choose to follow the platform of the Republican Party or the daily expressions of Rush Limbaugh. (It should be noted that this is changing! Many evangelicals were said to vote for Barak Obama in 2008.)
The Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper expressed the sentiment of the Christian worldview when he said, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, 'That is mine!'” This was his way of communicating the fact that Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. He himself not only understood how the Bible touched every aspect of life (be it politics, education, economics, family, etc), but Kyper was a living expression of it. During his lifetime he served as a pastor and theologian, a politician, a journalist, and contributed significantly to the world of education.
Another way of talking about this subject may be seen in the following quote. A man once said, “The Bible is an expert in every subject with which it deals, and it deals with every subject
This Sunday (Feb. 17) at 9:45 our elder, Judge Jim Deweese, will be presenting a seminar on "Same-sex Marriage: Does it Matter?" at Providence Church.
With the militancy of the homosexual agenda advancing things like civil unions and same sex marriage, the pressing question of the day is whether Christian marriage is a value still worth retaining. Judge Deweese will argue that marriage between one man and one woman is not only God ordained, but necessary for retaining viability as a society.
This past Lord's Day we recited the Nicene Creed. Afterwards a member asked me what it meant that Jesus was "begotten of the Father before all worlds." A synopsis might run like this:
To be be begotten of the Father is to say that, Jesus, while being co-eternal with the father, does not exist apart from the Father. His existence, though divine, is very much depended upon the Father. Or, to put it another way, "He is what he is because of God the father." Or, "the Son would be nothing at all if it were not for God the Father."
While the use of the term "monogenes" (only begotten) is used a number of times in Scripture, the best place to consider is John 5:16-47 (even though monogenes is not used, the idea is most certainly evident). Jesus here calls God his "own Father" making himself equal to God in a sense that no one else was (this is why the Jews got so mad and wanted to stone him!).
Yet, he went on to say that he did the same works as his Father, and even admitted that he could not do them apart from the Father (v. 19-24). Also, he said he had the right to judge, but this was only because the Father committed judgment to him.
Verses 21 & 25 are similar. Jesus says that he has power to raise the dead, but yet, he can do nothing on his own initiative! All the power he exercises is because of his Father who sent him into the world.
Verse 26 also illustrates this. Jesus says that he has life in himself. But he admits that it is only because his Father gave him this quality.
More could be added. But the point I think is expressed: Jesus is the eternally begotten of the Father (i.e. begotten before all worlds). Though he possesses uniqueness as divine, he is somehow (mysteriously, of course) dependent upon the Father.
 Adapted from Stuart Olyott’s work, The Three are One.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.