“The kind of world God made is a model of what artists should strive to make and what all people should delight in.” vs “Art for art’s sake!”
By “art” we mean the renderings, two- and three-dimensional, produced by people using painting, drawing, and sculpting tools. Music, drama, dancing, and other fine arts help us train capable worshipers of the Holy Triune God. We are not simply mastering material for a fabulous performance.
The two quotes above illustrate two of the most frequent battle cries from opposing sides in the philosophy-of-art war. The second quote has its roots in the Enlightenment period in Europe. After man became “the measure of all things” in the Renaissance, it was a small step to all that man does or makes becoming autonomous from any Higher authority at all.
Scriptures like I Corinthians 10:31 teach us that nothing we do is out of God’s sovereignty; all we do should be to His glory. The arts are certainly no exception then. When the Lord talks about art in His Word, it is always in the context of skilled craftsmen, or those gifted in design work (see the tabernacle construction account in Leviticus). In Philippians 4:8, we are commanded to dwell on things of beauty and integrity. Therefore, the arts can and should be taught to young children initially in the form of basic skills – using the whole page, correctly holding the pencil and brush, studying and practicing perspective, mixing colors, and other universal artistic elements.
At Veritas, we seek to systematically train the elementary students in the requisite skills for art and complete art projects that combine skills, practice with copying from another picture, still life or design. The study of music provides opportunities for students to explore the gifts that God has given them. A broad base of introductory knowledge at the grammar stage helps all students to determine their likes and dislikes, and guides their future elective studies. Participation in musical performances provides an opportunity to offer the fruit of those gifts back, either as worship to the Lord or enjoyment for the Christian community. A student may also learn that God has not gifted them in this area of music. This provides the student with an opportunity to develop an appreciation for the talents God gives his friends and to support them in their endeavors.
In a Christian setting, there is even less excuse than in a pagan setting for doing a poor job instructing students in art. After all, by imitating and relishing the Creation through art, we show tangible praise for what our Father has done. What a great lesson to teach children!