Faith and Art: Allies or Rivals?
September 13 and 14, 2013
Erdman Center, School of Christian Vocation and Mission
Princeton Theological Seminary
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 de-humanizing 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.
The aim of this short course is to explore the relationship
between Christianity and Western art with this dichotomy in mind.
Drawing on the history and philosophy of the arts, there will be
four sessions devoted to four forms, with each session divided
into lecture, discussion and audio/visual presentation.
Session I Visual Art: Expression and
Is painting a matter of the personal expression and
interpretation of faith? Or is it a means by which to produce
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 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 Architecture: Sacred Space and Meeting
‘God does not live in temples made with human hands’. What
implications should we draw for church architecture from this
verse? This session explores theological underpinning of the
contrast between a church as a meeting place, and as a sacred
Session IV Poetry: Truth and Beauty
Beautiful language in worship has always been valued. But what
could poetic form 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.
Friday, September 13, 2013
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
3:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
10:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Dr. Gordon Graham is Henry Luce III Professor
of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary and
an Anglican priest, ordained in the Scottish Episcopal Church and
licensed in the Diocese of New Jersey.
His books include The Idea of Christian Charity (1990),
Evil and Christian Ethics (2001) and The
Re-enchantment of the World: Art versus Religion (2007). He
has contributed to the Oxford Handbook of Systematic
Theology, the Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of
Religion, and the Cambridge Companion to Christian
Dr. Graham earned M.A. degrees from the University of St. Andrews
and the University of Durham, and a Ph.D. degree from the
University of Durham. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's premier academy of letters, in
Registration fee is $80.00 which includes program only, meals are no longer available.
Please read the Registration and
Cancellation Policy before registering and then
click here to register online.
Additional questions may be asked by telephone at 609.497.7990 or
by e-mail at [email protected].