Most art in the last fifty, or even one hundred years, has lost its beauty, particularly sacred beauty, and in response Christians have abandoned the arts. In Art for God’s Sake, Philip Graham Ryken makes a case for both the calling of Christian artists as a ministry and for Christians as supporters of the arts.
Ryken reminds readers that art comes from the supreme Artist, God himself. He says of Him in creation, “…like a painter adding watercolors to a sketch, or like a composer developing variations on a melodic theme, God takes the forms of creation and adds content. He fills the water with sea creatures, the sky with birds, and the land with wild animals.” (22) The author then informs readers of the first mention of artists in Exodus 31, when the Lord commissions the tabernacle through Moses, and the craftsmen used for various media were called of God, inferring that art is meant to glorify God. He says that the gifts God gave to these artists showed the necessity of “spiritual insight as well as practical skill.”
In the spirit of Francis Schaeffer, Ryken makes a worthy defense of the rich variety of arts, and encourages believers to recapture that which elevates the Lord. He defines worthy art as good, true, and beautiful, the last being somewhat subjective. The book is brief, only 58 pages, and has a helpful section that follows with suggestions for further reading. And Ryken’s writing is conversational, making it something anyone would enjoy. Highly recommended. — Anne Walker, Christian Book Previews.com