Both detractors and supporters of John Calvin have deemed him an enemy of the physical body, a pessimist toward creation, and a negative influence on the liturgical arts. But, says W. David O. Taylor, that only tells half of the story.
Written as his dissertation while he was a ThD student at Duke Divinity School, Taylor examines Calvin’s trinitarian theology as it intersects his doctrine of the physical creation in order to argue for a positive theological account of the liturgical arts. He does so believing that Calvin’s theology can serve, perhaps surprisingly, as a rich resource for understanding the theological purposes of the arts in corporate worship.
Drawing on Calvin’s Institutes, biblical commentaries, sermons, catechisms, treatises, and worship orders, this book represents one of the most thorough investigations available of John Calvin’s theology of the physical creation—and the promising possibilities it opens up for the formative role of the arts in worship.
At a time when Protestant treatments of the arts tend to be marked by excessive shame and breast-beating, studies like this remind us of treasures easily overlooked. For some, Calvin would be the last theologian from whom we might expect wisdom on the liturgical arts. But David Taylor, with exemplary skill and clarity, shows us otherwise. This is an immensely important study from one of the key leaders in theology and the arts today.” Jeremy Begbie, Duke University
“David Taylor’s extraordinary study of Calvin and the liturgical arts consistently surprises and delights. Its greatest strengths are its command of Calvin’s full works, not just the Institutes, and its ability to think with Calvin but far beyond his self-imposed strictures. The result is a more profoundly incarnational Calvin and a more deeply scriptural rendering of the liturgical arts.” Samuel Wells, St. Martin-in-the-Fields
David Taylor was the first Th.D. alumnus in the DITA program. He is the Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary and director of Brehm Texas, an initiative in worship, theology, and the arts.
Edited by W. David O. Taylor and Taylor Worley
The church and the contemporary art world often find themselves in an uneasy relationship in which misunderstanding and mistrust abound.
On one hand, the leaders of local congregations, seminaries, and other Christian ministries often don’t know what to make of works by contemporary artists. Not only are these artists mostly unknown to church leaders, they and their work often lead them to regard the world of contemporary art with indifference, frustration, or even disdain.
On the other hand, many artists lack any meaningful experience with the contemporary church and are mostly ignorant of its mission. Not infrequently, these artists regard religion as irrelevant to their work, are disinclined to trust the church and its leaders, and have experienced personal rejection from these communities.
The present volume gathers together essays and reflections by artists, theologians, and church leaders as they sought to explore misperceptions, create a hospitable space to learn from each other, and imagine the possibility of a renewed and mutually fruitful relationship.
In the art world, it’s always October (October being the name of the Marxist journal that has long dominated the field). This essay collection shows that many are ready to flip the calendar to see what a new season will bring. Contemporary Art and the Church affords further evidence that glasnost (‘openness’) and perestroika(‘restructuring’) are challenging the enduring Cold War between art and religion, which requires rethinking from both sides of the divide. The authors shout in unison, ‘Tear down this wall,’ and it finally feels like 1989.” Matthew J. Milliner, Wheaton College
“What a rich and vibrant colloquy on the visual arts and theology! I can hear the voices behind the words—multivalent, wise, contemporary, galvanizing. They offer a comprehensive understanding of CIVA, the growing movement that partners faith with contemporary art.” Luci Shaw, writer-in-residence, Regent College, author of Thumbprint in the Clay and Sea Glass
Included are essays by Christina Carnes Ananias (current ThD student with DITA) & David Taylor (DITA alumnus) and Ben Quash, director of Theology, Modernity, and the Visual Arts, DITA’s latest research project.