Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Artistic Theologian 1 (2012)

I’ve just come across The Artistic Theologian, which describes itself as ‘an evangelical theological journal published by the School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’, which ‘focuses on issues of worship and culture for Christian musicians, pastors, church music students, and worship leaders’.

The essays and abstracts are below; I was particularly drawn to the final one on a biblical understanding of culture.

Individual essays are available from here; the whole volume is available as a pdf here.

John E. Simons
Introducing The Artistic Theologian
The Artistic Theologian is designed to provide a place for publication, research, discussion, and resources for those engaged in worship and artistic ministry. We hope it will create points of connection between worship leaders, pastors, church music scholars, theologians, and students preparing for ministry. The journal and its allied resources support the point of view that a church musician should be an artist and a theologian, and it addresses the need to increase dialogue between pastors and church musicians.

Kevin T. Bauder
Why Pastors Should Be Learned in Worship and Music
This essay addresses the following question: Should pastors be learned in worship and music? My answer offers a perspective arising from my experience and theological reflection upon ministry (over thirty years, about evenly divided between ministry as a pastor and as an academic theologian). My initial answer to the question is that a pastor certainly does not need to be a skilled musician in order to enjoy an effective ministry. Nevertheless, since right affection (including right worship) is at the heart of the Christian faith, and since right affection is both expressed through and evoked by the arts, and since the church is biblically required to employ certain arts in the execution of its ministry, then pastors should possess sufficient learning to lead the church wisely and knowledgably concerning the artistic productions that the church adopts in worship. I shall present my observations in a series of nine propositions.

T. David Gordon
Finding Beauty Where God Finds Beauty: A Biblical Foundation of Aesthetics
Philosophically, we are at a new moment in history. Today, most people are post-Realists, or Nominalists. Prior to Nominalism, the prevailing philosophies in the West were all variations on Realism. In those systems, Reality is a given, and perception is viewed as the ability to observe, in varying degrees, what is Real. Nominalism (from the Latin nomen, “name”), as a philosophy, suggests that there is no Reality, or that if there is Reality, it has no inherent meaning. To the contrary, what a realist calls “meaning” is his or her imputation of value onto an otherwise meaningless universe, somewhat analogous to how a critic might impute meaning to a canvas randomly covered with paint. As its own label suggests, “Nominalism” implies that words are mere “names” that humans give objects, but these names only reveal information about the “namers” and nothing about the objects so named.

Jonathan Blackmon
Scripture, Shekinah, and Sacred Song: How God’s Word and God’s Presence Should Shape the Song of God’s People
The song of God’s people plays a crucial role in the faith formation and doctrinal understanding of the church because the content of worship shapes the worshiper’s view of God. The content of congregational song must therefore be carefully scrutinized so that the songs on the lips of God’s people do not promote vain or even false worship. The words must be doctrinally sound, so they must reflect biblical truth in all that they teach. Christian worship proclaims, celebrates, and enacts the Gospel of Christ, so congregational songs must present the truth of God’s goodness in all that he says and does. The most outstanding feature of God’s people at worship actually has nothing to do with the worshipers themselves, but is instead the presence of God among them. Therefore, the words and music of corporate worship should reflect the truth of God’s beauty, for, as J.I. Packer so eloquently stated, “knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a person’s heart.”

Scott Aniol
Toward a Biblical Understanding of Culture
The missional church movement has significantly influenced evangelical churches in recent years, especially through its philosophy of evangelism and worship. Missional advocates argue that the church is part of the missio Dei – the mission of God – and thus it must see its ministries as fitting within that mission. Essential to the accomplishment of that mission is embedding the church in its target culture, which missional authors call “incarnation.” In order to evangelize a culture, they argue, churches must contextualize the message of the gospel in the culture. According to the grandfather of the missional movement, Lesslie Newbigin, contextualization is “the placing of the gospel in the total context of a culture at a particular moment, a moment that is shaped by the past and looks to the future.”

Book Reviews

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