We were made to create. We are fulfilled by creating through God’s gifts to express our uniqueness.

How are you using your giftedness to create?

Art and the Bible, by Francis A. Schaeffer is a primer on biblical creativity which is designed to teach us to “create out of a worldview”. It is our responsibility, Schaeffer states,to align that point of view with Scripture before we continue (9). Schaeffer reminds us that the father of Jesus was also the God of beauty.

Art and the Bible


Schaeffer does not address the importance of visual art as God created our world in Art and the Bible, but I think it is important to reflect on this. God created color, form, texture, shape, dimension, etc. God created beauty as we know it. He could have created our world using a very basic palette of earth tones (haha)–brown, ochre, beige—instead he added blues (thank you!), reds, yellows, and all the variations of these colors. He could have given us a flat, formless terrain to live on. Instead, He gave us mountains and valleys. When I declare the grandeur of the heavens, the sunlight sky, ominous cloud formations, constellations of the night sky, the clair de lune, what is man that you are mindful of him?

Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, WI

Are there specific places that you visit to be renewed by God’s creation?

Franklin Mountains, El Paso
Ominous clouds over Franklin Mountains

These are my places in God’s creation which renew my soul:

1) The Franklin Mountains and sunsets in El Paso, Texas; 2) The cliffs and shores of La Manche, in Étretat, France; 3) Lake Michigan shore, Milwaukee, WI; 3) Jardin des Plantes, Paris; 4) Whale watching in Cape Cod, MA; 4) Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France; 5) Palo Duro Canyon, Tx 6) The Alps in Hallstatt, Austria

Alps in Hallstatt, Austria
Etretat cliffs, France

What is the Place of Art in the Christian Life?

“Creation is the prerogative of God. Man can change things, and alter them, and modify them, and rearrange them. But he cannot create them. God’s act of creation was also an act of self-realization” (William Barclay, The Mind of St. Paul, 36).

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead; so they are without excuse”(Romans 1:19-21).

We know from Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 that God created all things. God uses visual art in his creation (the things we can see). We are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). God made the whole man, body, and soul. This includes our ability to be creative and enjoy the arts. How can we be creative and honor the Lordship of Christ? What are some ways that you express your creativity? Painting, crochet, gardening, singing, crafting, photography?

One of the first examples in the scriptures of the importance of visual arts is in I Kings 7:29, where we read the specific details of the construction of the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build including the altar, the panels of brass, and more details of the artwork. Moses was to use almost every form of representational art that man has ever known. Schaeffer states that “Just as Michelangelo chipped away marble from the great Italian quarries, so the Hebrew artist cast the bronze in a particular geographical place…Hebrew artists were not different from men today” (30,31). Do you believe that God is still using artists and architects to create places of worship today?

There are other examples of Arts in the Old Testament including Poetry, Music, Drama, and Dance. Schaeffer gives us an example of the arts through Poetry when David wrote his Psalms under the leadership and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We also see examples of art through music all throughout the Bible. Schaffer reminds us of several instances in the Old Testament where art was expressed through music in the great songs the Hebrews sang after being rescued from Pharaoh’s army, of Miriam singing, and of music in the temple (40).

How do we express our praise through music today?

Schaeffer reminds us of other art forms through dance and drama found in the Old Testament through Ezekiel and Psalms (44-46). Today, drama and dance are still used in our churches through Christmas and Easter specials, Children’s musicals, Vacation Bible School, Youth Choirs, etc.

Perspectives on Art

How can we be creative through the arts? We are engaged daily with works of art as we read books, listen to music, admire and arrange flowers, go to the theater, watch movies, and sing along to our favorite songs. In engaging in these arts, we are being creative. God created us in His image; we create art so that we can love and feel emotion.

When was the last time you created something with your hands that brought you joy? Was it for someone that you loved?


Have you thought of the great works of literature, prose, and poetry, as a form of expressing art? Schaeffer states: “An artist can use language with great richness, fill his writing with figures of speech and hyperbole or play games with the syntax. The great artist often does this, going far beyond a merely rudimentary use of normal grammar and normal definition of words. In doing so he adds depth and dimension” (58).

Did God create language? How does He want us to use this language?

As a Linguist, words are my life. The precise use of words is essential for meaning. Did you know in the English language, there are 611 different senses of the word run that can be found in the Oxford Dictionary? In addition, we have been using many of these same pronouns and prepositions (us, for, to him, in) and verbs (sing, stood, answered) from Old English for 1,000 years. Language changes every day, but the important art of communication stays the same.

According to Jean-Paul Sartre in What is Literature?:

The writer is a speaker; he designates, demonstrates, orders, refuses, interpolates, begs, insults, persuades, insinuates. If he does so without effect, he is talking and saying nothing.

Language is our shell our antennae; it protects us against others and informs us about them; it is a prolongation of our senses, a third eye which is going to look into a neighbor’s heart. We are within language as within our body. We feel it spontaneously while going beyond it toward other ends, as we feel our hands and our feet; we perceive it when it is someone else who is using it, we perceive the limb of others.[35]

It is, therefore, very important to choose the words you will use in your correspondence and speech as well as the literature you chose to read.

Visual arts

What is the place of art in the Christian life?

In the final chapter of Art and the Bible, Schaeffer addresses the visual arts through a Christian worldview. The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life—they are not peripheral. A Christian should use these arts as a thing of beauty to the glory of God. An artwork can be a doxology in itself (18). I am a Christian and I love art!

Since my introduction to the world of Impressionism in ’94, I have immersed myself to learn about these artists and works by visiting museums, studying art books, watching documentaries, acquiring and framing prints for my home; just about anything a fervent art lover could do except the most obvious- actually painting.  Many have asked over the years why I never learned to paint, and my typical responses have been a lack of time, resources, and knowledge. Honestly, as is typically my style of learning languages or new skills, I want to study in my own unorthodox way, independently, at my pace, reading the things I want to read, etc. and this was not conducive to learning to paint as one would have to normally enroll in art classes at a civic center or continuing education at a local college.

Copying Monet’s Magpie

This all changed in May of 2017.  God brought Marie, a professional artist, into my life to introduce me to the incredible world of painting. Marie began to teach me to paint through private lessons in her studio, showing me the basic techniques, and use of materials and most importantly, allowing me to paint the things that I am passionate about.  I am basically a copyist which is how the Impressionists began.  They copied works from the Louvre.  Wow, oh my goodness. What a joy!

Copying Van Gogh’s Landscape in Snow

I have been copying the works of my favorites: Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. The cerebral foundation of painting techniques, colors, themes, and styles of the impressionists are cemented deep into my mind after years of reading, viewing, and studying; now I can apply them directly.  It is not as easy, as I am learning, as just sitting down with a brush in hand and constructing a painting.  There is: mixing the right colors, considering the right medium (watercolor, pastel, oils), and calculating perspective using geometry, drawing, and shading, just to name a few.  Very technical and challenging, yet very exciting!

The Christian Life as a Work of Art

Schaeffer concludes his essays on Art and the Bible with a look at the Christian life as a work of art. As we look at all the perspectives on arts—paintings, architecture, literature, music, etc.—it is important to consider how they apply to our own Christian life.

“No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life (94).” They may have no give of writing, composing, or singing, but each person has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life.

The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.

Works Cited

 Barclay, William. The Mind of St. Paul. New York: Harper& Row, 1958.

Schaeffer, Francis A. Art and the Bible. Intervarsity Press, 1973.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. What is Literature? Harvard University Press, 1949.