—Seminary Professor Gordon Graham will lead a two-day course at Princeton Seminary on relating faith and visual arts, music, architecture, and poetry—

Princeton, NJ, August 20, 2013–Princeton Theological Seminary’s School of Christian Vocation and Mission will present a two-day course “Faith and Art: Allies or Rivals?” on September 13 and 14.

Led by Dr. Gordon Graham, Princeton Seminary’s Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts, the course will explore the relationship between Christianity and Western art.

gordon_graham_updatedGraham describes why he is offering the course: “A striking feature of modern times is the success of scientific understanding, and the astonishing range of new and hugely beneficial technologies that the scientific approach to the world has produced. Many people, however, have an increasing sense that bringing human experience wholly within the province of science runs the risk of dehumanizing it in some way, of eliminating the spiritual dimension. In response to this danger, art and religion seem natural allies, and the belief that they can mutually enrich each other takes further strength from religion’s centuries’-old engagement with music, painting, poetry, and architecture.

On the other hand, important strands of thought in Judaism, Protestant Christianity, and Islam have been wary of the arts lest by confusing the ‘beauty of holiness’ with ‘the holiness of beauty,’ they should lead believers into idolatry. From these points of view art is potentially the rival of true religion rather than its ally.”

Drawing on history and the arts, the course will offer four sessions devoted to four forms, with each session including lecture, discussion, and audio/visual presentation.

• Session I: Friday, September 13, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Visual Art: Expression and Discipleship
Is painting a matter of the personal expression and interpretation of faith? Or is it a means by which to produced revealed truths about God? This session investigates various tensions within the history of religious painting and explores the contrast between painting and iconography.

• Session II: Friday, September 13, 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Music: Performance and Prayer
What is the difference between the liturgical use of a great work like Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and a concert performance of the same work? This session looks at music’s distinctive contribution to worship and examines the division between contemporary and traditional Christian music.

• Session III: Saturday, September 14, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Architecture: Sacred Space and Meeting Place
“God does not live in temples made with human hands.” What implications should we draw for church architecture from this verse? This session explores the theological underpinning of the contrast between a church as a meeting place and as a sacred place. 

• Session IV: Saturday, September 14, 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Poetry: Truth and Beauty
Beautiful language in worship has always been valued. But what could poetic forms add to doctrinal truth in preaching or personal sincerity in prayer? This session will ask how, and whether, the literary arts can aid true Christian devotion.

The cost of the two-day course is $110 and includes the program and meals. Lodging is available at an additional cost. Click here to register for the event. Online registration closes on September 12. For more information, call 609.497.7990 or contact the School of Christian Vocation and Mission. 

Princeton Theological Seminary, founded in 1812, is the first seminary established by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Its mission is to educate leaders for the church of Jesus Christ worldwide, and its more than 500 students and 11,000 graduates from all fifty states and many nations around the world serve Christ in churches, schools and universities, healthcare institutions, nonprofit agencies, initiatives for social justice, mission agencies, and the emerging ministries of the church in the twenty-first century.