Thinking Biblically About Art – Introduction Part 2 – The Evaluation of Art

1 The Evaluation of Art

By Jonathan Martinovici

Copyright © Jonathan Martinovici 2018

A lot of what I’m going to be saying in these research videos is going to have to do with whether it is possible for evaluate art, with what are the grounds of evaluation, what are some of the difficulties involved in evaluating art and the reasons those difficulties exist, and such like.

So, in today’s session, I intend to briefly answer the question,

Does the Christian need a theoretical framework through which to evaluate art?

The answer is, Yes.

Reason 1: Disagreement exists amongst Christians in the evaluation of art, and we want to promote agreement.

Two people will look at a work of art, and one of them will say it is junk, and another will say it is good. It is worthwhile to seek to answer the question (and I’ll try to answer it here) of, “Who is right?” and, “On what grounds can a person make legitimate value judgements regarding art?”

Why should we want to answer this question? We should want to be able to reach agreement, because the more we agree, the more we can also do God’s work together with less friction. I hope that that is a strong motivation for us.

Especially when it comes to Music – I’m going to be focusing on music throughout this series, because that is my specialty – Music can be a very controversial subject amongst Christians, and one that is very heated, and it isn’t possible that that can be a good thing for a long time. Christians can be very divided on the issue of music.

So I hope to be able to look into the legitimate grounds for evaluating music, for instance, so that Christians can agree, or at least the conversation might be able to move on more fruitfully and with less friction, and we can have a better idea about how to conduct the discussion.

Reason 2: Art, taken broadly, is communication, and Scripture gives lots of clear evaluative teaching on communication.

It will become clear throughout the series that not all communication is approved of by Scripture, and there are also certain kinds of communication that are commanded in Scripture.

It will be sufficient, for the present, merely to mention (as broad and preliminary proof) that the Scripture does not approve of lies, or of tempting or leading each other to sin, on the negative side; and on the positive side, Scripture teaches that we are to tell the truth, to speak wholesome words, etc.

In coming sessions, we will look into what exactly these things mean, and lots of other things too. A Scriptural theory of art evaluation will take into account such things as these.

Reason 3: If we understand better what God’s word says in evaluation of art, we can know better how to make good art.

If we know what is good in the sight of God, then we can do more to refine our abilities in making art in a way that is clear sighted and with greater certainty of what God’s word says should motivate us in making art.

These are some preliminary reasons that show that it is worthwhile for us to have a Scriptural theory for art evaluation.

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