In the early 2000s I lived in the Santa Cruz, CA area and attended Santa Cruz Bible where Dan Kimball was a pastor. Since then Dan has become the pastor of his own congregation called Vintage Church, written some great books, and become a leader in the ReGeneration Project. ReGeneration holds at it’s core, “theology, church, arts and mission for new generations.” I had a chance to chat with Dan and wanted to share a few of his thoughts.
Jake: What is the value of art? Why care at all?
Dan: We are created in the image of God, and God is the ultimate creator. God expressed beauty in His creation. Even in the depths of the sea there is beauty that we would not have known about if it wasn’t for technology. We seem to have a longing for expressing beauty and creativity being created in His image. So the value of art is seeing how people express creativity in a myriad of forms whether art, photography, sculpture, poetry, music etc.
Jake: Some ask, “If the Bible is the inerrant and complete word of God, than we don’t need anything else right?” How would you respond to this? If the continuing revelation of literature, music and painting are not essential but extraneous, do they still have value?
Dan: I see the Bible as complete and I don’t need art for the Holy Spirit to use the Scriptures in my life. So I don’t see art as an essential in regards to understanding or learning the scriptures. However, just like conversation we can use art to express what the scriptures may teach us, or capture our emotions of worship that we may express through song and other art forms. It has value because it is how many human beings respond to God. Not too many people would say singing hymns or songs is an essential to understanding or learning the Bible, but they express love and worship to God through song. In the same way as singing, people express worship through other various forms of art and creativity. We often limit it to singing, which is sad as there are so many ways to express worship.
I love Dan’s perspective when he says, “We seem to have a longing for expressing beauty and creativity being created in His image.” He connects with the idea of art as an echo or reflection. We are merely participating, or re-participating, in the echo of God’s initial actions. We create because he did. We know these divine physics are true because 1 John 4:19 lays it all out. “We love because God first loved us.” How many other divine actions ripple through space and time to guide us, not in a Calvinistic predestination, but like a cork caught up in a wave?
Can we substitute actions and have it still make sense?
We create because God first created. We seek justice because God first sought justice. We make because God made. We weep because God first wept.
Our life, and worship, and art (not mutually exclusive) our bound up in each other and in the feedback loop of God’s divine sparks.
And readers, what do you think the point of art is? Is art a new scripture, part of the continuing conversation between humanity and the divine? Or is is a response to the initial spark? Do God’s divine actions, deep in our past, influence us today? Lets talk about it. Thanks Dan for the inspiration.