Apologetics Art Culture Europe

Persuasive Art –

I believe that there is an ‘apologetic of art’ – in other words art can be used to lead us to Christ or to point towards word and transcendent realities.  This short talk from FOCL in 2014 explains why…


Here are the basic notes with some of the paintings I used:

Persuasive Art

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.34.04Picasso once said that ‘art is the lie which leads us to the truth’. Human beings are artists, because we are made in the image of the great artist. By taking a broad sweep of modern European art (with particular reference to Picasso, Van Gogh, Kandinsky and Chagall) we will show how art sometime reflects the culture and sometimes creates the
culture. Because it asks questions, pictures emotions and attempts to deal with the deepest spiritual questions, contemporary European art gives us a window into the modern and post-modern European mindset and culture. Can we use it to give Europeans a window into the Gospel?

I. Introduction
1. What is Art?

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.34.18

2. Is there such a thing as Christian Art?

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.33.17

II. Understanding Contemporary European Art
1. Picasso
2. Van Gogh

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.33.39
3. Kandinsky
4. Chagall

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.34.52

III. How do we use art in evangelism?
1. The Apologetic of Beauty
2. The Apologetic of Suffering

3. The Apologetic of Creativity
IV. Questions?

Screenshot 2019-10-08 18.33.26
Suggested Reading
H.R. Rookmaaker: Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, Crossway, 1994
F Schaeffer : Triology, Crossway, 1990.
Vishal Mangalwadi: The Book that Made Your World, Nelson – 2011
Roger Scruton :Beauty – Oxford University Press, 2009

Persuasive Music

Art and Encouragment in Brisbane – Letter from Australia 7




  1. Oh, David, this is so up this retired high school art teacher’s alley.

    My students and I would often discuss Duchamp’s urinal.
    Throw in the sexually explicit photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe
    and we would have some heated debates.

    I would tell my kids that art had to move us on an aesthetic level as well as a physical and emotional level.

    But the question that remained was about that which offended or had to be rated due to the fear of younger viewers seeing such, was what we would need to question and or consider to be “art”

    Is controversy art?

    Would such “art” be considered aesthetically pleasing or instead, would it be simply a matter of an ‘in your face’ selfish offense?

    Urinals were /are not that which was /is considered aesthetic…nor was /is that of pornographic male homosexual photographs.

    Nor was the artist who had, at the time, created a replica of the Madonna in cow dung.

    We discussed what was considered “reactionary” “art”—that which was created to simply push buttons versus that which was created for the benefit of man…

    Aesthetic is that which is considered to be of “beauty”—and that beauty is
    not offensive nor insulting nor x-rated.

    However, as our culture morphs into a culture that is accepting everything and anything at all costs, it now risks changing the definition of most things we thought we once knew… and one of those things is art.

    But yes, art can be and has been apologetic. It has been and it continues to speak to the Glory of God—it is, or should be, a God-given gift that is, in turn, shared… that of a gifted artist offering his God-given gift to mankind.

    Oh, I could go on and on…

  2. Using modern European art to “lead us to Christ” is about as progressive as the social realist art under Stalin, which used images of tractors and happy peasant workers to lead the proletariat to the joys of socialism.

    Modernist art never did function very well at the service of ideology, whether of the left or right.

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful talk. My interest is more towards contemporary music rather than the visual arts, but the underpinnings are the same, I think. I use the ideas of Missio Dei and prophetic dialogue to explain what I am about:

    – God’s Spirit is already working in the world in many ways, independent of the church – this is God’s mission – the ‘Missio Dei’

    – Our missional task is to find out what he / she is doing and join in with it

    – Finding out involves listening to people outside the church and trying to hear what God is saying to them and though them, to us

    – We also listen to God directly though scripture and prayer, then try to clarify and amplify the message back to people

    – Together, these form the ‘prophetic dialogue’ – a humble engagement with the culture, and hotlipsmusic.net provides a place where Christians can share some of what they have head of God’s voice in popular music.

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