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Abrahm Gunn

The incarnation and art

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“And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son, full of grace and truth…” – John 1:14

In the middle ages, Monks withdrew from society because they believed that there was something evil about the natural world. They pursued isolation as a means of contemplating God. Spirituality was defined in terms of separateness from the world, not just in character and values, but in space and association. They segregated the sacred and the secular. They had no possessions, no income, and no employment. The goal was to fix one’s mind as much as possible on constant contemplation of heavenly things.

As time went on and Christians took greater notice of Jesus’ humanity, monks became friars and began re-connecting with normal societies, travelling from place to place, preaching and teaching. Theology influenced what was practiced.

It was the truth of the incarnation that made this change. When Jesus took on flesh, he highlighted something profound. The material world cannot be evil if the fullness of God is able to inhabit a physical body. True spirituality then, is not found in isolating oneself from the influences of the world, but rather being filled with the Spirit of Christ in the midst of those influences.

If our view of God influences what we do so drastically (to the point where it’s the difference between withdrawing permanently from society or engaging with it) would it be fair to assume it influences how we do art and creativity?

As creative thinkers and artists in the church, the question to ask is how our theology currently influences what we practice. In particular, how does the incarnation influence and in fact guide what we do? Is there any cross-over between the ideas in Scripture and what we end up practicing in our lives today?