1. Galadriel says:

    I just finished reviewing a book called “Outreach and the Artist” last night. It seemed to fall on a more utilitarian view of the arts, though there was an emphasis on quality artwork.

  2. >> Thus transcendence and immanence were at odds with one another just as the eye and ear were.<<

    Isn't that kind of like the Gnostic belief that the material world is evil and the spiritual is much preferred?

  3. Kirsty says:

    I’ve just skim-read the article, so forgive me if I’ve missed something!

    God gave commands to love the poor (Deut. 15) and collected massive amounts of money to build the rather splendorous spectacular tabernacle, a model reflected in Cathedrals and their ornamentation (Ex. 36).

    A big difference, though, is that in the Old Testament God’s temple was a physical building. In the New Testament God’s temple is people.

    Personally, therefore, I would prefer if there were no ‘church buildings’ at all – although I do worship in one…

    And to add to the subject here’s an article by my brother. Not saying I would come to the same conclusions as him!


  4. Juliana says:

    Thanks for the insights!

  5. “…viewed much art as some uninformed Christians still do, either as didactic propaganda or as entertainment for pleasure, rather than a necessary part of our human existence.”

    Love this, Brian!

    There is a certain amount of frustration I have with this discussion, simply because of all the labels necessary to discuss things. “Reformed” and “Calvinist” and “Protestant” and … blah blah blah. Mine is a simple faith, and I prefer simple terms and to distill things to their bottom lines.

    Nonetheless, it is mighty helpful for the Body at large when someone familiar with all this (or willing to research it long and hard enough to become familiar with it) takes the time to share their insights. It does help to know our history, to understand where ideas began, to trace the roots of things commonly held as fact or “doctrine” and propose that they could be different.

    It even sounds like you’re saying many today could embrace a different view of the arts without violating the roots of their faith, without being at odds with the writings and beliefs of their denomination’s founders.

    If those original founders actually said positive things about art and its place in the human experience, and it simply got lost because of lack of emphasis in comparison with other doctrinal priorities, I like to think people will be more willing to embrace it without feeling like heretics.

    Of course, some of us have no trouble with labels like “heretic”, “maverick”, or even (ha!) iconoclast.

    • Brian Godawa says:

      Good points. I guess we always have the downside of labels to deal with. They seem to spark such emotional reactions at times.

      As a matter of fact, the Reformation is my heritage, but I am not so devoted as to be unwilling to face my own heritages blind spots and call them out. We should all be willing to admit where our own position is weak or where our tradition has its faults or we are not honest people.

      That’s also why the first post part one was about what was right about the Reformation. Always say what’s good before you critique.

      Although I’m guilty of not always doing that either! 🙂

  6. Henrietta Frankensee says:

    So we had approximately 1500 years of transcendent thinking and 500 years of iconoclasts. Only 1000 more years to go to break even!
    I have been a black and white, all or nothing kind of person up to this point in my life. God has whispered that He has more for me and that anyone who tries to live at the extreme end of any dichotomy, sacred/secular, transcendent/immanent etc is going to miss out on knowing Him. Ouch.
    I have been exploring the duality, triality, quadrality of humanity in my writing; our ability to feel joy and sorrow, hatred and passionate love etc. at the same time. Thank you for opening this world of theology to me. It helps me to live on both sides of the veil.

    • Brian Godawa says:

      You’re welcome, Henrietta. It is such an encouraging inspiration to me to see both Immanence and Transcendence as equally ultimate in many places of Scripture. Its what gave me the courage to take that step out of the shackles of Evangelical modernism.

      • Brian, I wish I understood what you just said. ‘Cause it sounds like a totally epic journey.

        Can you boil it down for us lay folks?

        What does that mean in practical terms? What were the shackles? What is “evangelical modernism” and why is it bad (or why was it bad for you)? How does having both Immanence and Transcendence in your life make a difference day to day?

        Please forgive my ignorance. What you’re saying makes me hungry to understand.

        • Brian Godawa says:

          To be honest, Teddi, it took the book Word Pictures to explain what you just asked, but thanks for the appreciation and respect. In short, I would say that the shackles were upon my imagination. I remember Schaeffer said that it is the Christian imagination that should fly to the stars. And I finally felt that when I took the dangerous step of writing my Chronicles of the Nephilim series which was the fearless integration of imagination with theology.

          Evangelical modernism has many faces: One is that it is an elevation of reason or rationality and propositional truth over image, poetry and myth. I’m still a lover of reason and philosophy, but I prefer and get more from a movie than a sermon. Not dissing sermons, just saying that it’s more Biblical to stress story. Parables are not carriers of doctrine, they are necessary to the reception of the truth that cannot always be explicated. Stories and image and poetry are no longer means to an end of doctrine, but the actual way to understand the heart and mind of God.

          The stress on transcendence of God creates a sense of “otherness” which separates us and makes us colder, less compassionate, and mental. Reducing relationship to a worldview and therefore we become less personal and gracious. We see people in terms of what they believe rather than who they are in the image of God. But when we embrace the immanence of God’s word, the ambiguity, the emotion, the story and imagination, we become more in tune with God’s creation and with God simultaneously. We understand the paradox of grace, not as a mere doctrine, but as an embedded reality. I become more patient with people, I don’t feel I have to correct every wrong idea, I stress the person over their beliefs. I am more at Shalom and less of an adversary of hostility. Why? Because God is NOT about scientific, historic or even doctrinal precision as modernity defines it. If he was, he wouldn’t have made so many important doctrines so ambiguous and imprecise. Let’s be honest, there is truth, but it is not as “clear and distinct of ideas” as we would like it to be. Mystery is not something to be afraid of but something to embrace, because God leaves so many things mysterious. AND THAT IS OKAY, because God does it.

          I’m probably too abstract because that is my background, my strength, and my weakness. But I guess you would have to ask my wife to explain it in more day to day affect on who I am. She’s better at that. Sorry.

          Here is the first chapter of Word Pictures, where I do give a bit of my testimony of the real effect in my life of modernism and my turn:


          • Ha, yeah, I hear ya (about it taking the whole book to really answer). Given the depths of your exposition in these articles, I admit I was concerned that your book would be a bit over my head.

            Thanks for the link, I’ll read through the first chapter. And what you said in your comment did help me “get” what you’re saying. And continued to intrigue me.

            Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your time here!

  7. Henrietta Frankensee says:

    I read your first chapter, thank you for providing it! Fascinating and provoking. As an African raised with a Chilean Anglican minister in Canada I think this modernist dichotomy has a European/North American flavour. Have you spoken to people from Africa or South America? Asia or Australia?

    • Brian Godawa says:

      Thanks, Henrietta! I have not spoken to those outside of America about this. Alas, I am inextricably linked to my heritage. But I certainly understand it is a distinctly Western bias, infected as it is by the Enlightenment.

What do you think?