Last week, I posted that the lead pastor of my church, Daniel Montgomery, had given his “top five books” (though the last two ended up being persons rather than books) on art and the church. In response, I think it is time for me to post an initial list of my own. Here goes:
- For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts edited by David O. Taylor. This is an essential group of essays dealing with thinking about and implementing the arts in the church context.
- Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination by Brian Godawa. This covers imagination, story, and the arts broadly, looking at the biblical basis of creativity and how we both create and engage the existing arts in our culture. See my review here.
- Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue by William Dyrness. An essential introductory read on the history, biblical reasoning, etc. of faith and visual arts engagement by a prof. at Fuller, the leading seminary in church-arts integration.
- Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts by Philip Graham Ryken. An introductory text and little more, this is nonetheless a triumph of a concise biblical theology of arts as worship and provides a good and foolproof defense of art as such.
- Dr. Steve Halla. If Daniel can mention two people, I can mention one. Halla, a former professor at Southern Seminary (let’s not get into that) and currently a professor at Union University is one of the most knowledgeable people around on the arts-faith relationship, having advanced degrees in both theology and aesthetics. He is by far the authority on the matter from the evangelical perspective, and I have spent countless hours growing under his lectures at Southern in five courses, as well as in many conversations outside the classroom. I would suggest you read one of his books, but they’re not out… yet (I have it on good authority that the man has book projects in the works for the future).
These are far from the only books I recommend on the subject matter, but these give an essential introduction to build upon in one’s initial study of this important area.