A Gospel-Shaped Theology of Creativity | CHRIST (Part 1) - Embodied Exegesis

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Our previous articles considering a Gospel-shaped theology of creativity looks at GOD: how our understanding of God shapes our understanding of creativity and standards of beauty. We also looked at MAN & SIN: how the Fall has corrupted our human creativity and led us into idolatry and pride.

What then is the hope for creatives?

It is the same object of hope for everyone - Jesus Christ - the Son of God. He alone can bear the weight of being our soul’s Saviour. You cannot save yourself. You cannot rescue yourself from your creativity’s idolatrous enslavement - our tendency to look to other things, to have our gaze captivated by another ‘glory’. This is our idolatrous condition as fallen humanity - we exchange the glory of the One True God for created things (Romans 1). So then, let’s look at why Jesus Christ is the only proper Saviour for us as creatives.

God’s Triadic Glory Made Flesh

We turn to John 1 and read words which should sound familiar to us. “In the beginning…” harkens us back to Genesis 1 where we saw God - the Original Creative. Yet here in John 1, we find ‘the Word’. And this Word was with God, and also was God (1:1)! Not only that, everything was made through the Word (1:3)… whoever this Word is - John is clearly stating that this Word is equal with the same God from Genesis 1 that we saw creating.

If we jump down to verse 14 we see that this Word, who is the Creator God, became flesh - became human - and dwelt among us! God the Son - the Author himself - writes Himself into His story! And “we have seen his glory…” there’s that word glory we looked at prior… but what type of glory? The same “glory as of the only Son from the Father”!

Jesus Christ is the incarnation or embodiment of God’s Triadic Glory.

“The incarnation is like the opening of an art gallery, filled not just with the artist’s work but, more importantly, with the Artist Himself.” (Terry & Lister, Images & Idols, pg 101)

If God’s glory was too abstract for us to comprehend, in Christ we see God’s condescension to our level so we can comprehend it. But what does it look like?

An Embodied Exegesis

In theology we have a fancy word for explaining or making clear a text of scripture - it’s called exegesis. It basically means to extract the meaning that is there in a text and make it plain and understandable to all. In the Greek text of John 1, verse 18 literally says, “No one has ever seen God - the only God - the One who is at the Father’s side (Jesus), this one has exegeted him (ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο).” (My translation)

That Greek verb - ἐξηγέομαι - means “to relate in detail, tell, describe, expound.” This is what John is saying Jesus does. Jesus exegetes the Father to us. He makes him known as an ‘embodied exegesis.’

So, what does Jesus reveal to us about God? What about God does he exegete to us as creatives?

Well, in the Gospel accounts, we find Jesus speaking - but he doesn’t sound like any of the preachers of his day. He doesn’t sound like a seminary professor or scholar. He talks very differently to the Pharisees - the religious leaders of the day. He tells stories. He uses imaginative language of similes, metaphors, analogies and parables that build mental pictures in the minds of his listeners about the Kingdom of Heaven that stir their hearts. In order to make the Father known, to exegete Him to us, Jesus paints with powerful word images and pictures that arouse the imagination. One might be tempted to say that I'm just making Jesus into my own image as a creative. However, Jesus Christ is the Creator himself in human flesh. To say that Christ is a creative is simply to recognize his divinity on display.

Christ looks, speaks and acts very much like a creative! Which makes sense, since he is the Creator in the flesh!

How Does Jesus Exegete God’s Glory?

So, in light of what we’ve learned about God’s Triadic glory already from our previous articles, how does Jesus show us this? Jesus Christ is:

A. The WORD of God - Truth/Content/Telling

We see this plainly stated in John 1 - Jesus is the Word in flesh. And throughout His ministry He declares the word of God - the truth about Him and His Kingdom to us.

Jesus tells us the truth about God.

B. The IMAGE of God - Aesthetic/Form/Showing

He is also the perfect representation - an exact likeness - of God. Colossians 1:15 calls him the ‘image of the invisible God’ in whom ‘the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’ (v.19). Hebrews 1:3, Jesus is called ‘the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature.’

“He is the one true and perfect metaphor, an analogy so true to the original that the analogy itself shares the character, the divinity of the original, the Father.” (A Redemptive Theology of Art, 140)

Jesus, God in human form, shows us the beauty of God.

C. The POWER of God - Power/Purpose/Doing

John 1:3 also tells us that nothing was made that was made without him. Hebrews 1:3 says that he ‘upholds the universe by the word of his power.’ And Colossians 1:16 says that ‘by him all things were created.’ Jesus himself says in Matthew 28:18 that, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:24 says that to those who are called, “Christ is the power of God.”

Jesus is the power of God, fulfilling His purpose.

So, we see that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all that we saw of God’s Triadic Glory. He is God made manifest to us, perfectly revealing the otherwise imperceivable God to us. Thus, we are to look to Jesus Christ for our redemption as persons and creatives because he alone is the exact image of God’s Triadic glory which we so desperately need. This is why he is the only proper object to captivate all of our desires, affections, dreams and longings as creatives. We must look to him and him alone to captivate our gaze and ‘glory hunger.’

In our next article in this series, we’ll look at how Christ redeems all things, including our creativity.

I hope that these articles have been helpful to you so far as we seek to build a Gospel-Shaped Theology of Creativity. If you've found them helpful or interesting, make sure to like, share and subscribe/follow to stay up-to-date on the latest articles and content at Theotivity.

Thanks & SDG!

 

Articles in this series:

  1. Introduction

  2. GOD (Part 1) - The Creator

  3. GOD (Part 2) - Understanding Beauty

  4. MAN (Part 1) - Marred Creativity

  5. MAN (Part 2) - Exchange and Autonomy

  6. CHRIST (Part 1) - Embodied Exegesis

  7. CHRIST (Part 2) - Redeemed Creativity

  8. OUR RESPONSE

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