Art, life, incarnation, restoration
24 June 2008 3 Comments
A few years back I began reading a compilation edited by Jeremy Begbie titled Beholding the Glory. I haven’t finished all (or even most) of the essays, but one thing from one of them I did read really stuck with me, a most simple point that had yet to be brought to my attentive attention despite growing up in the church.
That point is this: God affirmed the worth of creation, though fallen and out of His favor, by sending Jesus to Earth in human form. How wonderfully plain and straightforward.
Not long after I read that essay I picked up a book by Randy Alcorn titled Heaven. This theologically rich but down to Earth look at what the Bible says about Heaven further affirmed the value of a physical Creation. This may come as a surprise to a lot of Evangelicals. A large part of Alcorn’s Scriptural exploration debunks common and perpetuated myths about the afterlife such as getting your wings, playing harps on clouds and the oft-despised, never-ending high-in-the-sky church service.
Alcorn suggests — based on a myriad of Scripture — that the New Jerusalem will be right here, on the same dirt you and I trip over today. Further, he points to the possibility that art we make in the here and now will be on the “New Earth.” In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, in The Last Battle, the followers of Aslan step through a door into Aslan’s country. The children see, on the other side of the door, their home, while Narnia behind them — on the other side of the threshold resting on the same ground — is swallowed up in darkness. They see their city, their countryside, their own houses. Alcorn points to Lewis’ illustration as the best way to describe, with such brevity, what he understands about the New Heaven and the New Earth from the Bible. Thus, if we subscribe to Alcorn’s understanding, though this fallen world will be necessarily purified, restored, aspects and objects of our lives here and now will carry over into the new world, the New Jerusalem.
There’s much too much in this book to go into any further here, suffice it to say that it made sense to me, was backed up by the Bible I believe in and shows the value that God places on His Creation, despite its fallen state. As an artist, this is an incredible point of view. It is a burgeoning hope in the face of political corruption, greed, famine and so much sorrow that we see on a day to day basis. God knows about this tyranny, deception, disregard and pride so symptomatic of man’s fall from grace.
Incarnation: And yet, He still saw fit to tread this dirt.
Restoration: And still, He plans to restore this soil on His return.
As a tactile artist, as someone who is innately driven to create physical objects, palpable environments, these observations mean the world.