A Natural Theology of the Arts contends that the arts are theological by their very nature and not simply when they are explicitly religious - thereby constituting a distinctive kind of 'natural theology'. Borrowing from science the stance of 'critical realism' to justify truth claims in art and theology, it argues that works of art are complex metaphors that convey the 'real presence' of God, even when not labelled as such. Citing numerous examples from literature, painting, and music - including Shakespeare's King Lear, Vermeer's Young Woman with a Water Jug, Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son, and Stephen Cleobury's experiences performing Bach's St Matthew Passion and Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb - the author concludes that works of art anticipate the new creation, thereby suggesting a Trinitarian account of the God present in the creation and reception of such works.
’A very fine book on natural theology and art. Tony Monti takes an original and thoroughly sensible line, knows the literature and writes very well. He is well versed in theology and aesthetics, as well as philosophy and theology, and he offers a valuable new contribution to the field.’ Jeremy Begbie, University of Cambridge, UK ’This work is lucid in presentation and scrupulous in argument. I believe that a natural theology of the arts, which is what Monti develops, is a topic of great significance and importance. The book is accessible to an educated general reader and makes a significant contribution to the developing conversation between theology and the arts, in a style that bears a cousinly relation to work in science and theology.’ John Polkinghorne, University of Cambridge, UK 'Monti has provided an adequate summary of a current debate that will prove useful… It is literate and wide-ranging - from Bach to Ibsen, Shakespeare to Bill Viola…' Church Times
Contents: Foreword by the Rev Dr John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS; Preface; Addressing the crisis in the humanities; The epistemology of critical realism; Natural theology and the metaphysic of flexible openness; Natural theology, metaphor, and art; Rumours of 'real presences' reconsidered; Art as natural theology: An eschatological and trinitarian understanding; Epilogue: A question of taste; Works cited; Index.