Man’s Reflection of God

“Man’s rational powers . . . reflect God’s reason, and enable man now, in a sense, to think God’s thoughts after him. Man’s moral sensitivity reflects something of the moral nature of God, who is the supreme determiner of right and wrong. Our capacity for fellowshipping with God in worship reflects the fellowship that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have with each other. Our ability to respond to God and to fellow human beings imitates God’s ability and willingness to respond to us when we pray to him. Our ability to make decisions reflects in a small way the supreme directing power of him “who works out everything in conformity to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11). Our sense of beauty is a feeble reflection of the God who scatters beauty profusely over snow-crowned peaks, lake-jeweled valleys, and awe-inspiring sunsets. Our gift of speech is an imitation of him who constantly speaks to us, both in his world and in his word. And our gift of song echoes the God who rejoices over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17).”

-Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in the God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 71.

Art and Creativity

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Romans 8:20-22, ESV)

“God actually cares about the earth, but we just seem to think it’s going to burn.
God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.
God actually cares about mundane jobs, when we seem to think only “Christian ministry” will make him happy.”

“Our lives on earth aren’t just placeholders until we go to heaven. We are to create, cultivate, and redeem while we’re here.”

“The fact that we can create is a sign we were created in [God’s] image. No other creatures have this ability to create.”

“Too often, instead of acting like mirrors pointing back to Jesus, we try to act like billboards, advertising ourselves.”

“Trying to get glory for things we have done is like the moon shouting, “Look how awesome I am,” when the only reason the moon is shining in the first place is because of this sun. The brightness of the moon is borrowed brightness.”

-Jefferson Bethke, Jesus > Religion (Thomas Nelson, 2013), 156-158
http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Religion-Better-Trying-Harder/dp/1400205395

Calvin’s Thoughts on Liberty, Pleasure and Beauty

John Calvin rejected Christian asceticism — the teaching that extreme denial of earthly things was beneficial for godliness. He condemned these severe restrictions since they restricted “consciences more tightly than does the Word of God”

Calvin also cautioned against antinomianism — the teaching that Christians are free from the Law. “Certainly I admit that consciences neither ought to nor can be bound … to definite and precise legal formulas; but inasmuch as Scripture gives general rules for lawful use, we ought surely to limit our use in accordance with them.”

Calvin then gives support for a Christian appreciation for art, pleasure and beauty.

“The use of God’s gifts is not wrongly directed when it is referred to that end to which the author himself created and destined them for us, because he created them for our good, not for our ruin. Accordingly, no one will hold to a straighter path than he who diligently looks to this end. Now, if we ponder to what end God created food, we will find that he meant not only to provide for necessity but also for delight and good cheer. Thus the purpose of clothing, apart from necessity, was [respectableness] and decency ….

Has the Lord clothed the flowers with great beauty that greets our eyes, the sweetness of smell that is wafted upon our nostrils, and yet will it be unlawful for our eyes to be affected by that beauty, our sense of smell by the sweetness of that odor? What? Did he not so distinguish colors as to make some more lovely than others? What? Did he not endow gold and silver, ivory and marble, with a loveliness that renders then more precious than other metals or stones? Did he not, in short, render many things attractive to use, apart from their necessary use?

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.10.1-2.