N.T. Wright On Art And Mission + Sacramental Theology

A beautiful audio teaching that sits smack in the middle of the Institute’s work. His distinguishing between sentimental art and genuine art is masterful, and very important to the 21st century Church. Thanks to great, longtime soul-friend Kris MacQueen.

N.T. Wright On Art And Mission.

N.T. Wright On Sacramental Theology

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 thoughts on “N.T. Wright On Art And Mission + Sacramental Theology

  1. I love how Wright talks about the honesty of art,of the present pain, the present glory revealed and the future glory. We have short-changed art by making on pretty pictures of demure Jesus and his sad, calm appearance.
    The bible is full of angst along with peace. There is ugliness as well as beauty. The ugliness is part of the beauty – the precursor of what can come of it.
    Raw honesty is my passion. I get hurt often, but have found safety in places also. The only way I can build on anything is to come from honesty. And art is to reflect, embrace, and demonstrate that.

  2. I really like both of these video clips.

    In the first clip, I love the encouragement to use the language of the arts to help further express things that cannot be done with mere words of abstract constructs. Pictures (and melodies, movements, sculptures, etc) really are worth a thousands words or more and can bring life to things that cannot be done in any other way.

    Art also connects with the reality of creation in a way that abstract mental constructs cannot. Life is made of air, water, stone, wood, silk, fragrance, tones, colors. And so is art. In this way art is a more adequate reflection as it shares the same ‘concrete substance’ within which we all live. I’ve never met a single person who lives completely in abstract ideas. They live in world of concrete substances which gives any abstract ideas meaning, not the other way around.

    In the second clip I really like what he has to say about the reality of the sacraments. Being raised in the traditional Lutheran church, we were taught something different than the common language of the sacraments being “mere symbols.” I think that demoting the sacraments to the position of “mere symbols” robs the sacraments of their significance and of their power.

  3. About at the 8:00 minute marker in this second clip, N. T. Wright declares that, These (sacraments and Word coming together) are the moments when the story comes to life!”
    How well stated! I find his discussion to bring a wonderful balance to some of the issues about sacraments that some church models struggle through. The opportunity to participate in recieving the sacrements allows me a direct kind of fellowship with the Lord, the ancients, and with eternity in both directions. It makes me reach to connect with God and to connect with being the object of His love.

  4. Great comments, guys. Being the object of his love, Jamie, yes, this is great comfort.

    Crystal, strong truth on ugliness being an essential part of beauty – contrast in paintings accentuate the vibrant colors with deep shadow.

    Nathan, so sweet your words on the “mere symbol” language attributed to the common sacraments. In the new book I’ve contributed to with Broadman Holman coming out next spring, I make this very argument – “mere symbol” is not enough, Protestants, and the definitive language of “means of grace” (used as THE means of grace by one of my co-writers) is too strong.

    The symbol is the act, the act is the prayer, the prayer is the bridge of intimate communion with God – mere symbol relegates it to being a street sign, and that would be a poorer understanding of the sacraments.

  5. Pinot Noir Theology

    It’s a bit odd to dip someone in water, or take bread and dip it in wine if there’s no explanation. So asking the question: why are we doing this? Is always such a refreshing thing to do.

    The idea that sacraments are like a shadow, or a way of symbolically demonstrating a deeper reality is so helpful in our largely visual and kinaesthetic culture.

    Wright puts it this way, he says it’s: “The moment when the story comes to life” and that by carrying out a symbolic act, it’s like you become more connected with who you are. Wright terms this as “knowing in your bones” that you are made for more – to meet the needs of those in you midst.

    He also points out that this isn’t about being literal. Breaking bread isn’t actually going to feed anyone, but it serves as a reminder that it’s what Jesus came to do.

    So essentially the idea is that we become orientated through the acts of sacrament in order to engage with the reality of what God is doing around us right now.

    Bring out the wine!

  6. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it is that inspires and provokes change. Is it solid theology that comes empowered by the expectation of the Kingdom to come? Is this what is so refreshingly alive in this video teachings? Is it teaching that swells your heart to action and beauty?

  7. It’s an interesting thought to think about the necessity of the “unlovely” among the beautiful, but the contrasts (reality) are healthy. Anyone with an artistic “bent” has to be charged by N.T. Wright. As artists (at whatever level) we need to see the big picture and realize why we’ve been given these abilities. Just as there should be no “compartmentalization” in living out the kingdom, there should be none among the arts as well.