Sunday, December 31, 2006

Originality as Unbiblical

Craftsmanship, and not originality, was the emphasis in the arts prior to Romanticism and the Enlightenment. Certainly an artist was praised for imaginative ideas, but the value of those ideas rested in how the artist treated and developed those ideas and crafted them into something profound. The quality of the idea was dependent on its suitability for development.

An artist striving to be original by necessity ignores or rebels against the history and development of their art. This denial flies in the face of the biblical ideas of learning from the past, passing along wisdom, and respecting the clouds of witnesses who have gone before.

An artist motivated to be original, by definition, is more interested in personal glory than the glory of God. The impulse to be different for the sake of being different has no place in a biblical concept of the arts.

Scripture does not deny the opportunity to be creative, but the emphasis and purpose is far different than our concept of originality. Craftsmanship, as an artistic trait, is much more in line with the biblical notion of the arts—and a far more difficult endeavor requiring the exercising of wisdom and ability. The idea of taking various materials, gathering them, remolding and blending them, and ultimately enlarging them is the bringing of order inherent in craftsmanship—an opportunity to act as a sub-creator.

One need only to evaluate the twentieth century art which used originality as its basis to see how far originality takes true art away from a biblical standard.

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