Byron Spradlin

Artists In Ministry & Missions

Category: The Bible

Imagination, Artistic Expression & Worship? 1 of 2

How Imagination And Artistic Expression Relate To Worship

Evangelical author and philosophy professor Dallas Willard writes, “Sometimes important things can be presented in literature and art that cannot be effectively presented in any other way.” Given the way God has designed the human being and human community, people need all the capacities He created—reason, emotion, imagination, memory and language, all working together. As mysterious as that transaction is, they need all these capacities so that they may “know” God and not simply know about Him.

In fact, the Bible reveals that people are to know Him so intimately that they ultimately live every minute of each day in a companioning-worship-walk with Him. Jesus pressed this very issue when explaining to the woman at Jacob’s well that, “. . . God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, NIV). The Apostle Paul presses the same mandate when he urges Christians to, “. . . present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your logical, reasonable worship-way-of-living (latreian)” (Rm12:1, author’s rendering).

The Bible reveals that the essence of worship is to find one’s satisfaction in God above all and everyone else. The Apostle Paul boldly declares, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21, NIV).

But based on these submissions, there exists one important question: If humans and human community are to engage in an intimate and interactive involvement with God, how does this interactive transaction actually happen?


Most would say that the goal and essence of worship are both wrapped up in a relationship with God. But still, how do finite people have relational interaction with a Divine God? Is not God unique from humans? Of course. He alone is Divine, Holy, Supreme. But how; or in what way, or in what realm, has God created humans to ‘experience’ in transactional reality, relations with Himself?


At this point it is important to note Bible Role for Imaginative Expression. God designed finite humans in such a way . . . that the mystery of transactional engagement with God happens through environments of imaginative human expressions.

When people go to worship, whether in groups or alone, God designed them to need to exercise their imaginal intellect as much as any other dynamic of their being—including their rational intellect.

When people worship God alone, they “practice” focusing their faith toward God through the gate of their imagination. As they couple their imagination with their intellect, they will imagine the unseen realities they ‘know’ are true in Scripture.


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Who Are Artists? What Does the Bible Say?

Who Are Artists? What Does the Bible Say?

The best biblical TERM for what we today label an “artist” is … Craftsman

Let me expand on this a bit more in the following way:

The best biblical term in the Bible for what we today call Artists is the word craftsmen (Hebrew = machashabah, machashebeth). The term is a wisdom word, and literally means a person unusually wise at imaginative design. Actually in the Old Testament alone there are at least nineteen (19) artistic CRAFTS mentioned, four (4) words (really word-areas) that label Specialist creative types—those we today label as artists, two (2) words (verbs) that describe specialized artistic activityfour (4) words (adjectives) that describe creative types as specialized.

To the Hebrew-speaking mindset in 1500 BC, all of these terms seem to hold the basic idea that the people we these days call ‘artists’ are people endowed by God to be unusually wise and able in creative, imaginative human expression.

 

Bigger Labels for Artist

Sometimes I also label these people in general . . .
-human expression specialists, or
-imaginative expression specialists
and when specifically talking about creative Christian specialists…
-creative-Kingdom servants, or
-arts-ministry specialists.

Artists are “Specialized” but not “Special”

Now note three particulars here related to why we’re using the term “specialists.”

First, artistic specialists are ‘specialized’ in that they have God-given capacities related to imaginative expression that are clearly larger and greater than those the “normal” person possess. But . . .

Second, so-called “artists” are not essentially more valuable or better people in God’s economy, than people gifted by God in other ways. This distinction is sometimes overlooked, but very important.

Many often automatically embrace the popular but incorrect (and unbiblical, and more modern) notion that ‘artists’ are the creative elites, and everyone else is NOT creative at all. No. Nothing could be further from reality—which leads us to a third consideration.

Third, though artistic specialists are unusually creative in one way or another, ALL people are creative (every person has the capacity to imagine—they are imaginative) by virtue of being made in God’s image. The capacity to imagine is central to being human, and a wonder-filled reality of God’s design OF human nature.

Animals do not possess the capacity to imagine. Rather, animals have instinct—which is wonderful, beautiful and amazing. But still instinct is a lower and far more limited ‘capacity’ than the capacity humans possess of imagination.

By nature, each person exercises great creativity all throughout every day!! This fact must always be underscored.

So therefore, it should be clearly noted that “artists”—those people possessing “unusual wisdom and ability in some area of imaginative design and expression”—certainly are “specialized.”

They do possess extra-ordinary capacities and abilities of certain kinds of creative expression; but they are NOT essentially more “special” than any other ‘kind’ of human God has created and capacitied in other ways.

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40 Million Downloads & Counting

I’d like to introduce  Brian Hardin, founder & creator of the Daily Audio Bible. Brian appeared at the Nashville Gathering this last November and shared his journey as he created the Daily Audio Bible. To date, the response has been explosive with over 40 Million downloads of the Daily Audio Bible.

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