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Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts Paperback – May 2, 2006


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Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts + Art and the Bible (Ivp Classics) + Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596380071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596380073
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Graham Ryken (PhD, University of Oxford) is the 8th president of Wheaton College and, prior to that, served as senior minister at Philadelphia's historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written several books for Crossway, and has lectured and taught at universities and seminaries worldwide. Dr. Ryken and his wife, Lisa, live in Wheaton and have five children.

Customer Reviews

His artwork is not yet created or mentioned either.
Joel A. Pelsue
He argues also for the objective nature of the arts--an objectivity which encourages us to seek out the meaning the artist meant a work to display.
Tim Challies
This book does a great job getting after what it seems to say it will.
Ben Riggs-Apex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on June 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
A small book on a big topic is a dangerous proposition. It may show disrespect for its subject by bragging that it can be read in a short time, such as Kant in 90 minutes. (Kant in 90 minutes is not Kant at all.) On the other hand, a short book can thoughtfully introduce a profound subject worthy of further consideration; it may be a primer. Art for God's Sake is a worthy primer; it addresses the relationship of Christian faith and art in the hope of helping Christians "recover the arts."

Philip Graham Ryken, Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and the author of several previous books, including Written in Stone (an insightful study of the Decalogue), has in sixty-four pages outlined a biblical view of art's place in God's world. Ryken is moved by the plight of the Christian artist whose calling and work is misunderstood or rejected by the church. He realizes that Christians may be suspicious of art because of their concern for idolatry and their repulsion toward much of contemporary art, which has abandoned the ideal of beauty and revels in the bizarre, the transgressive, and the outright ugly. Ryken also laments that Christians too often reduce art to utilitarian and evangelistic purposes that fail to honor art as art. Further, Christians often laud art that does not take the brokenness of life east of Eden seriously. Quite frequently, Christian art is little more than pious kitsch, which he aptly describes as "tacky artwork of poor quality that appeals to low tastes" (p. 14).

Yet art should be consecrated to the glory of God, and Ryken instructs us briefly to that end.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am the worst artist in the world. I'm sure there are some who would contest that claim, but if you were to ask me to draw something (anything!) I think you'd quickly agree that I am about as bad as a person can get. It is strange that I am such a terribly poor artist as I come from a long line of very capable artists. Yet somehow, when the various family genes were combined to form me, all of those artistic genes fled.

Not only am I the worst artist in the world, but I also have a strong dislike for most of the visual arts. For many years I thought that my dislike of these forms of art stemmed from my lack of talent in this area. But after much reflection I think there may be another source for my dislike of art. In my education I was constantly taught that art is inherently subjective--that meaning is assigned to a piece of art not by the artist but by the person gazing at it. I was taught that I was to study a work of art, allow it to speak to me, and understand the meaning of the work to be whatever came to mind at that moment. I may not have been able to express why I found this unsatisfactory, but it led me to dislike art and even to distrust it.

In recent years I have been recovering from this viewpoint. Art For God's Sake by Philip Graham Ryken, pastor of historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, has helped in this recovery. It is a short book, weighing in at only 64 pages, but one that is thick with satisfying, biblical reflections on the arts. Ryken argues for the recovery of the arts among Christians. He argues also for the objective nature of the arts--an objectivity which encourages us to seek out the meaning the artist meant a work to display.

The purpose of the book is twofold.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joel A. Pelsue on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ryken has written some wonderful things and preached some great sermons, but this book is not in that category.

While he does affirm the arts explicitly,and say some very encouraging and true things, at the same time he undermines his very goal. An example of this is when he states at the outset "images easily lend themselves to idolatry"(p.11).

This simply isn't the Biblical perspective on art. Art does not cause or lend itself to idolatry any more than a lazyboy chair lends itself to sloth. If art was the cause of idolatry, God would not have commanded art to be made within His place of worship.
The reformers made it clear that anything and everything can become an idol. John Calvin was right when he said, "our hearts are idol factories." Art does not cause idolatry. It is an occasion for it, just like the approval of man, money, power, etc. I believe this misunderstanding is part of the problem - we need to stop singling out art as somehow more evil or tempting than the other things we worship.

Ryken's presents a proof of his point in Exodus 31-32. In examining the golden calf passage he writes, "Anyone who doubts the tendency of artistry to become idolatry needs only to read on into Exodus 32 (p. 49).
Amazingly, given Ryken's knowledge and wisdom, he misses the real context: The artist, Bezalel, who is commissioned by God in Exodus 31 is not mentioned in chapter 32. His artwork is not yet created or mentioned either.
Who made the golden calf? Aaron. Exodus 32 is about priests giving in to the desires of the people, and people being prone to return to their old slavery to sin, not about the art commissioned by God being used for idolatry.

Ryken is confusing the issue he seeks to clarify.

disappointed.
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