Showing items filed under “June 2017”

Something Costly: A Conversation About Faith and Art With Bethany Lynam

What first drew you to the arts? When did you begin to consider their relationship with the church?

As a kid, a lot of things within the arts were just where I felt like God’s truth was clearly seen and felt for me. So I kept doing them. Only later did I connect that the trail I was following wasn't necessarily the arts, but Beauty. Sadly, it had almost nothing to do with what I experienced from the church, but everything with what I read in the Bible on my own, experienced with God on my own, and what I saw exemplified in my believing parents.

How could the wider church do a better job of encouraging artists in their vocation? 

A good start is to try. Art, done well, is not obvious. So you’re not necessarily going to “get it” right away. You have to spend some time with it. Try to enter the conversation. Secondly, trust your artists. Trust that the artist’s eyes are seeing something you may have missed… not a different truth at all, but perhaps a different facet of an infinite one. Lastly, artists, by definition, are very powerful communicators. The church needs to train artists as she would any other powerful communicator or leader in the body. Oh! Also…PAY THEM!

What draws you to use gold leave so often in your work as opposed to other materials and mediums at your disposal?

Gold is so intuitively symbolic. It speaks so naturally to something sacred, pure, and worthy, in such an accessible way.

What are some of the aspects of your work that convey the tension and complexity of 2 Corinthians as it traverses between hope and struggle?

Probably the one image that most succinctly communicates all that I wanted to for the 2 Corinthians study is the round emblem encircled by the gold victory wreath. In that image I feature the subject being literally ripped apart before transforming into a branch that begins with scarce leaves and ends covered in foliage that supports a rose in the subject’s chest. That rose resembles the one at the center of the wreath. In this image, I was trying to show the sanctifying cycle of death and pain leading to immense growth and Christlikeness.

What were the ideas and themes which led you to apply gold leaf so prominently in the pieces that you produced for our Faith + Work series. 

The presence of the gold being placed only where the hand meets the “soil” speaks to the fruitfulness that can only come from work. But, I was careful not to make the hands gold even though their motion transforms the soil. This is so the gold is not attributed to the soil or the hands. There is a real part of the gold the only comes when the hand meets the soil, but neither hand nor soil can take credit. This is how real fruitfulness is. God does it all. It’s this kind of paradox: we may be obedient in tilling ground, but it is only his blessing that brings good from all we do.

How does the gospel shape your overall approach to creativity and the arts?

The most formational connection the gospel has with my work comes from one of my favorite Bible passages. When Christ is in the city of Bethany, after Lazarus had died and been raised, the famous and scandalous anointing of Christ takes place. Mary dumps the entirety of this very expensive perfume, and all of its weighty connotations, all over Christ’s head. This woman just spills everything she is onto Christ in this off-putting, untimely, moving, beautiful mess, without any self-preserving hesitance! So that’s all my art is. Something costly spilled with tears & graphite.

What encouragement would you offer to a Christian who is passionate about art and creativity but struggles to see how it connects with their faith? 

Well, I have never met a creative who has not seen the connection between their creativity and their identity. The largest struggle for the Christian artist I think is to lay that down. Your first sense of identity cannot be “artist, musician, writer, filmmaker” etc. It is now “Christian.” One of the most precious truths of our faith is found in this sweet paradox…”Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25) As far as specific ways the artist works within the church?….Just like everyone else. We serve where there is a need. If you have offered your artistic expertise and have received a “No thanks, not at this time”, look at the gifts that make you good at what you do artistically. Are there other ways or places those strengths can be applied?

Posted by Travis Lowe

The Apostles Creed

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“No creed but the Bible, no creed but Christ.” Both phrases are slogans that you’ll find on church signs and behind pulpits. The sentiment driving each of these statements are noble, and yet they are naive at best. If we were to press a bit further, it would become apparent that most of us have particular beliefs about what the Bible teaches and who Jesus is. Many of us would not say, “you can believe whatever you want about what the bible’s message, as long as you are wholeheartedly committed.” Or, “Believe what you may about who Jesus is, so long as you are fully convinced.

Mormons, Muslims, and Buddhists can all say they believe in Jesus, and yet we believe very different things about who He is and what He accomplished; those beliefs are profoundly and irreconcilably different. The Christian life is not an interpretive free for all; there are boundaries, and once these are crossed we are no longer operating within the stream of Christianity. That's is why the Church found it so helpful, throughout her history, to summarize in short statements what the Bible teaches about who Jesus is and why He entered into history. These ideas were codified in the early statements of Christian belief, some of which can be found in the New Testament itself (Acts 15:23-29, 1 Timothy 3:16).

Outside of the New Testament, perhaps the earliest and most complete creedal statement would be the Apostles Creed. It outlines, in a basic way, what Christians believe about who God is and what He’s done in Christ. There’s some indication that it started as a series of questions asked during a new believer's baptism. Only after the participant had answered, “Yes” to each of the 12 lines were they submerged. It’s this creed that we’ll be spending the next 12 weeks or so studying in our life groups.

This might feel a little bit counter-intuitive for those of us who grew up with evangelical backgrounds; aren’t the creeds just for people who accept tradition over what the Bible teaches? It's a good question, but it isn’t how the early church viewed the creeds. They labored and debated endlessly to make sure that creedal statements accurately reflected everything that the Bible said. So it’s important for us to recognize that the Apostles' Creed has authority, not just because it’s ancient, (although it is) but because it is an accurate summary of what the Bible teaches. Christians throughout the ages and from all branches of the church have recognized that this short statement accurately summarizes some of the most foundational teachings of the Bible.

Just because something is older doesn’t necessarily make it better or worthwhile…heresy after all, is as old as the New Testament, and we’re not clamoring to study heretical teachers. But there is something significant to the fact that the Apostles Creed is ancient, and reminds us that our faith is also ancient. The great temptation for those of us living in the modern world is what C.S Lewis called "chronological snobbery." We cut ourselves off from the wisdom of the past, thinking that we know better now. For Christians, this will not do. We are not the first generation to believe the Gospel, we’re not the first generation to follow Jesus, and we are certainly not the first generation to receive the Holy Spirit. As the West becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity, the way forward will likely be backward. Our task is to listen first to the Scriptures and then to the voices of those who have come before. We desperately need to hear from our ancient brothers and sisters who walked in the light of the Gospel in cultures far more hostile than our own. There is comfort in knowing we are not the first. We are indwelt with the same Spirit who led the Apostles, strengthened Ignatius in the lion's den, guided the early church in composing the Creed, laid hold of Augustine under the pear tree, illuminated the mind of Aquinas, and drew Luther to behold the Scriptures afresh. He has been faithful to guide the Church thus far, and He can be trusted to guide us safely to our home country no matter how dark the hour. So, this summer we're studying the Apostles Creed; a rich, ancient, and Biblical confession which has been shared by the global Church throughout the ages.

Posted by Travis Lowe

College + Career Ministry Blog