The Arts

William A. Dyrness

in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199245765
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

The Arts

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In the last two centuries, Christian theologians have revived a conversation on the role of art and aesthetics in theology that had been eclipsed during the Reformation. Many medieval thinkers saw the arts as theological practices that were intimately related to worship. Music, architecture, altarpieces, and, later, smaller devotional images, were understood to communicate the presence of God. The world as God's creation, the incarnation of Christ in human form, and the reading and interpretation of scripture all stimulated the practices of art and literature. This article explores these modern discussions. Exactly how the arts are thought to relate to God varies, but all the writers explored here agree that aesthetic reality incorporates a critical component of created life and can not only contribute to spiritual health, but may reflect or embody God's presence. Art and aesthetics is used here in the broad sense, including both object and experience.

Keywords: Christian theologians; Protestant art; aesthetic reality; Reformation; systematic theology

Article.  9189 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion

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