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Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images

All efforts to visualize the Trinity are obviously deficient. The doctrine resists figuration. How do you convey three distinct divine persons who share one essence? Over the centuries, several different types evolved to represent the Three-in-One. The two male figures share a royal robe and jointly hold open a book, their word of truth. The first person of the Trinity is not a human, nor even male, but in Scripture God reveals himself as father and as Ancient of Days , so anthropomorphic depictions developed, though they have always been controversial.

These are meant not to be taken literally but, rather, to tell us a little something about God: that he relates to us like a father relates to his children.


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Authority and personhood are more easily shown through figuration, and our anonymous artist here through the single robe and single seat conveys the idea that Father, Son, and Spirit are enthroned together as one, together vested with divinity. This is only one aspect of the rich doctrine that is the Trinity. Created in , it shows a pair of old fishing nets blowing in the wind on the Maine island his wife purchased and revitalized. Wyeth was not religious, but he was fascinated by the supernatural, and his paintings are often celebrated for their spiritual quality, for the sense of presence they evoke.

O Holy Ghost, through thee alone Know we the Father and the Son; Be this our firm unchanging creed, That thou dost from them both proceed, That thou dost from them both proceed. Over two weeks, eight choreographers and performance groups. Jerram has produced several moons, which are touring the world, hoisted up in churches and other spaces, indoor and outdoor. Jerram has also created replicas of Earth, scaled down by a factor of 1. They are currently being displayed inside Salisbury and Liverpool cathedrals and will thereafter continue their world tours.

The bronze font by William Pye at Salisbury, designed to reflect and extend the surrounding architecture, makes for some truly amazing photographs of Gaia! Not to mention the significant meaning generated by the interaction of the two.

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Part installation, part performance, Dandelions was put together by the anonymous collective The Art Department. For some, a wish is an aspiration imbued with rational optimism. For some, wishes represent unfulfilled longing. Art often gives us occasion to confront who we are and what we desire, and with this piece, that was done in a playful way, with a mock bureaucracy that included the Department of Small Things That Float and various logistical assessments. View more photos and read an interview with the creators at My Modern Met , and see also the Hyperallergic review. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

Their virtuosity is amazing! And they have such a fun synergy on stage together. The purpose of my music is to worship Him and bring his presence and unconditional love to people. Thanks to Global Christian Worship for introducing me to these music artists and to this piece in particular.

He works mainly in batik a wax-resist method of dyeing cloth and woodcut. He is ninety-eight years old. O God, may the fire of the Holy Spirit burn up the dross in our hearts, warm them with love, and set them on fire with zeal for your service. Note: An earlier version of this post misattributed the song to Israel Houghton. Houghton popularized the song on his Alive in South Africa album, but the words and music are by Erasmus Mutanbira from Zimbabwe.

You are witnesses of these things.

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And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. Teresa of Avila St. Teresa of Calcutta St. Love God, Love Others. Sign up for our free, Daily Meditation. Animals Reflect God's Love. Summer Reading! I Want to Inspire My Kids. Thoughts and Reflections. What is prayer? See more. Featured Collection. At the time, the university bustled with scholarly activity as a hub of the European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment.

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The education Rush received after several years of intensive studies represented the finest available in the English speaking world. Rush returned to America and established a medical practice in Philadelphia, which was at the time a thriving port city later selected as the first capital city of the new United States. Over his lifetime, Rush thought and wrote on a wide range of topics. He became an early advocate for the abolition of slavery which he approached from a Christian standpoint similar to Evangelicals in England and elsewhere.

He advocated temperance from a moral and scientific position when alcohol remained a ubiquitous blight on society. He made improvements in medical practice, helped found a college in Pennsylvania, and trained thousands of medical students. His political career encompassed the late colonial period, Revolutionary War, and days of the Early Republic. Rush signed the Declaration of Independence and supported the adoption of the U.

He became friends with George Washington, John Adams, and nearly all other luminaries of the era. Rush built a reputation that placed him at the forefront of national affairs. At the asking of President Thomas Jefferson, he schooled Meriwether Lewis in medicine and packed for him a first-aid kit.

Lewis and Clark made their arduous journey traversing the North American continent with provisions selected by the finest physician in the country. Rush conversed with Christians of all denominations and worked with them on improvement projects that bettered all mankind. In big and small ways, Rush provided an early model of the great benefit of what happens when a person embraces Christianity and life-long learning.

">The Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images

There at the beginning of our national history, Rush provided an exemplary model of what could be accomplished when faith and learning are woven together. This one example illustrates how the value of a Christian liberal arts education can lift up an entire country.

To be introduced and educated in the knowledge of the ages allows a person today to step forward with confidence and to carry into the world time-tested solutions. The graduate of a college where Christianity and liberal arts thrive can achieve a well-rounded education and this person becomes a strong member of the Church they attend.

They also become a sought-after employee and a trusted community member.

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Both prayer and thought drive this individual forward on a daily basis. These individuals become indispensable in the Christian cause. They possess a rigorous education following years and years of unrelenting preparation and a love of Christ that is even stronger. These men and women become leaders who organize, direct, and by example inspire others to worship and praise Jesus Christ.

As a professor in the Humanities Division of Louisiana College, I confess that a haunting apprehension occasionally tugs at the sleeve of my consciousness. Is such an education really worth all the effort and expense? How does a history course on civilization advance the understanding of a student preparing to split atoms, sue a neighbor, buy a yacht, manage a business, or do open-heart surgery? What benefit comes from insisting that an economically-strapped student from Bunkie or Baton learn some foreign language or another, or learn about Poe, Milton, Charlemagne, Oppenheimer, Napoleon, Einstein, Bach, Rembrandt, Plato, Aristotle, or Augustine?

Why would anyone who has Wikipedia at the touch of a finger need to have any course that teaches material unrelated to the chosen major? Such questions need answers, of course, and having pondered and fielded such inquiries for several decades, I offer several observations that may persuade people that retaining the liberal arts approach to higher education is crucial. Current trends often lean confidently toward simplistic, easy answers and self-centered attitudes.

The attitude goes like this: If the subject cannot be quickly understood and the relevance readily discerned, it will be readily dismissed. Those who insist on a slow and deliberate pace through the traditional trivium and quadtrivium — the foundation upon which liberal arts colleges build — find themselves out of step with the spirit of the age. These current leanings away from the traditional curriculum need examining, but that discussion is for another time.

Christian teaching insists that in the light of Scripture our thinking is transformed, for it reveals the mind of Christ. A properly taught liberal arts education liberates us from the bondage of ignorance and willful distortion of or indifference to truth. Those who create art — artists — draw upon experiences in creation, and using their imagination and the materials of their respective disciplines, represent, interpret, and re-create aspects of the world and their understanding of it. To do so, they must think and reflect on the nature of the experience, event, or object being represented.

When they do, they reflect the image of God, for they imitate his creativity. It does not suffice to apply this idea to only those known formally as artists, however. In fact, informally speaking, one who builds house or a business model based on Christian principles, a scientist who invents a new way of exploring and analyzing biological relationships, a chemist who develops a new drug to combat cancer, the writer who paints with words, and the musician who plays with consummate skill and passion — all who make and do things worthy and useful are artists glorifying God through their work.

Armed with this definition of liberal arts, we can then move to consider in greater detail the relevance of a Christian liberal arts education. While credit belongs to the ancient Greco-Roman models of rhetorical schools that trained young men to think, speak, and act in various civic roles — lawyers, civil leaders, statesmen, and teachers, for example — the added dimension that Christians bring to the tradition sinks deep roots into the desire to glorify God and serve others through a pursuit and application of truth. To do so requires competent teaching, training, and mentoring.

God, as the creator of the universe and humanity, has forged an enduring relationship between the creature made in his likeness and the creation. Being human, then, is not only to understand the creator but also to understand the creation. And since humanity and its history — its ways and days — are part of creation, we ought to recognize their significance for coming to a full-orbed, biblical understanding. The problem lies not in what we study but how our natural vision perceives what we see.

To put it differently, to the natural mind, the diverse pieces of the puzzle do not fit well. All this wonderful diversity in the world creates brow wrinkles for those who ponder meaning and purpose and how to see order and unity in the midst of this vast universe. Without the appropriately tuned mind and heart, those perceived objects, actions, and other phenomenon will not be properly understood. The theologian John Murray keenly observed that mental or intellectual laziness plagues the human condition.

Institutions like Louisiana College seek to challenge this particular kind of sloth. Moreover, the Christian faith contributes a vital kind of energy to continue to love truth and knowledge, not as ends in themselves, or worse, to attain praise, but as a means of loving God more wisely, passionately, consistently, and biblically. Faith, hope, and love are sustained by the grace of God, and these virtues help overcome the slothful habits of apathy and enjoyment of ease. To illustrate what fruit faith, hope, and love can produce, simply consider a few tangible benefits of the science of optics: telescopes, microscopes, binoculars, eyeglasses, fiber optics, contacts, and cameras.

These items are just a few applications of this particular science. Yet these inventions, derived from the study of optics, would not be possible without a sustained effort of inquiry, a desire to know how the eye works, and enough perseverance to learn how glass can enable our eyes to see clearly things both miniscule and remote. Mental laziness, indifference to the pursuit of knowledge, and a preoccupation with personal pleasure would surely have prevented discoveries of this sort. Examples like the one above could fill libraries, but it is not necessary to belabor the point.

Instead, consider how the presenting of the multiple perspectives of historians, mathematicians, scientists, artists, and musicians can enrich life. Authors, too, from different eras, cultures, and convictions take us on journeys far from our cozy shores. Additionally, the study of a foreign language helps create new connections in the brain and enlarges our appreciation for not only the mother tongue and its structure but also how innate language is to the human experience. The sheer variety of the perspectives requires thinking on numerous levels. Such volume and variety stretch the mind beyond the confines of its own comfortable perceptions and experiences.

Students must think beyond themselves and wrestle with the implications these different disciplines entail. Figuratively speaking, the Christian liberal arts approach nourishes the mind and heart with meats and drinks from many tables and many chefs, and it then evaluates the flavors, textures, and aromas of the many menu offerings, comparing and contrasting them. To extend the metaphor further, a student may even discover that by trying various meats, one kind of meat appeals more than another.

An education that neglects this dimension of learning will, at best, permit a two-dimensional approach to life. The CEO whose only concern is profit for the shareholders and who fails to take into account the worth of loyal employees will lose them. Charts and tissue samples and blood work and pills are useful tools when dealing with a cancer patient, but the doctor who fails to recognize the humanity of the patient will not know how healing a humane approach and solicitous manner are to the suffering soul.

The liberal arts equip students to appreciate more fully the astounding unity and diversity of this world in which we live: such an education teaches us of what it means to be human, striving to reveal and to reflect the creativity, generosity, and goodness of God. One might argue from a practical standpoint that education should prepare individuals for success in life, and parents of college students, of which I am one, hope this success means gainful employment with a paycheck and some good benefits. So why does my daughter have to study content areas that will not necessarily help her get a job?

Put another way, why are students preparing for medical school forced to take classes that do not cover content needed to pass courses in medical school? I sympathize with the parents on this matter. However, I am a graduate of Christian liberal arts institution, and along with the gray hair has come a much deeper appreciation for my undergraduate education, a Christian liberal arts education. As a science major, my degree requirements included studies in literature, psychology, music, philosophy, and foreign language, just to mention a few.

Granted, the curriculum only required a course or two for most of these, but several amazing things happened in the process. I discovered that the hard work of learning pays in ways that are hard to put into words. The other major event for me was the merging of things.

Let me try to explain. One of my favorite professors forced us to read a couple of very dark pieces of literature that disturbed me, shook me.

We were asked consider the implications in open class discussion. While learning the structure of DNA and the central dogma of science, it became obvious that the letters of the genetic code are in fact a language. The implications were not hidden from us. For me, different content areas of academia seemed to be raising the same questions. Is there a way out of this mess of humanity? Where did we come from? Is there a God who is creator and designer? Is there hope for the future?

Many areas of higher education have developed unfortunate rules for the delivery of content. For example, in the natural sciences, the secular university system has defined how far a scientist can go in considering the implications of the evidence available. Good science does not invoke the supernatural. In the secular university biology classroom, implications of design are not to be pondered. I ask you, is this an objective search for truth? Education of any titled form including Christian, or secular or liberal arts is only valuable in the sense that it successful in delivering truth to its recipients.

If the mind of the learner is not allowed to explore the implications of the evidence, it cannot be considered valuable, in my opinion. The reality is pretty simple, I think. Honest and open learning in any content area leads to many of the same questions that students at secular colleges are not allowed to raise, at least not in the classroom. To be sure, Jesus had in mind that the disciple would be a learner of all things that he had commanded.

The Psalmist 19 , after declaring that the heavens tell of the glory of God, reminds us, however, that the created order has no words; the Word of God, Scripture, the Bible, contains the revealed words of God that explain reality. It is in the words of the authors of scripture that one can understand the real world.

Oh, and in case you have not already figured it out, my undergraduate education included a survey of both the Old and New Testament. I learned the details of a God who made me in His own image, who wants humans to have faith in Him, who promised a Messiah who would die to pay for my sin and redeem me. I learned the details of how just such a Messiah, named Jesus, promises the restoration of all things, a new heavens and a new earth where He is King in a kingdom filled with justice and righteousness.

Is a Christian liberal arts education valuable? From me the answer is a resounding yes. We take care of the whole patient. This general, noncommittal, secular, perhaps even politically correct, take on spirituality is a drastic departure for nursing. For centuries, nursing has been closely associated with Christianity. According to Gore , the first nurses were mothers caring for infants and children and tribal women caring for the infirm in a village.

The Romans had temple vestal virgins who cared for the sick. First century Christians were taught to be ministers to the sick and lowly. As Christianity grew, deaconesses provided care to the sick. By the Middle Ages, caring for the ill came to considered a calling from God and primarily associated with monasteries or the military organizations like the Knights Hospitallers Gore, During the Renaissance, as religion was reformed, hospitals were disbanded and care of the sick became the responsibility of the family.

Nursing fell into disrepute and was performed primarily by the dregs of society. In the mids, Florence Nightingale brought enlightenment to nursing.

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She believed the body and the soul to be inseparable and that nurses must be able to minister to both.