© 2017 – Routledge
Partly in a desire to defend divine freedom and partly because it is seen as the only way of preserving a distinctive voice for theology, much contemporary theology has artificially restricted revelation and religious experience, effectively cutting off those who find God beyond the walls of the Church. Against this tendency, David Brown argues for divine generosity and a broader vision of reality that sees God deploying symbols (literary, visual and sacramental) as a means of mediating between the divine world and our own material existence. A sustained argument for divine interaction and more specifically the ways in which God speaks in the wider imaginative world, this volume calls for a careful listening exercise since symbols are richer and more open in their possibilities than their users often suppose. Not only is this true of the imagery of Scripture, even inanimate objects like buildings or hostile but creative artists can have important things to say to the believing Christian. An ideal introduction that also moves the conversation forward, this volume addresses foundations, the multivalent power of symbols, artists as theologians and meaning in religious architecture.
‘David Brown helps us regard art and imagination as truly and irreducibly constructive (though not beyond criticism), and as potentially part of genuine critique—even when ignored almost completely by much of academic theology. There is no one I would rather be reading, or have students of theology and the arts be taking into full consideration. In fact, I’ve never read a theologian more informed—and more "generous"—in insisting on the integral connection between theology, the arts, and imagination.’
Frank Burch Brown, Frederick Doyle Kershner Professor Emeritus of Religion and the Arts, Christian Theological Seminary, USA
‘In this important volume of essays David Brown works to widen the avenues of exchange between theology and the arts, getting the traffic between the two to move more freely in both directions and to carry heavier freight in the process. Brown’s writing is irenic and erudite, drawing insights from an astonishing range of biblical, theological and art historical studies into new, mutually enriching dialogue.’
Jonathan A. Anderson, associate professor of art, Biola University, USA
‘An excellent introduction to the work of David Brown, these essays offer great insight into the theoretical principles and criteria undergirding his writings on human creativity and the imagination. The central idea in Brown's work, which is the intrinsic, sacramental relationship of revelation and imagination, will prove to be a significant starting point for new theological developments in the years to come.’
Stephan van Erp, professor of fundamental theology, KU Leuven, Belgium
"This is a wonderfully liberating way of looking at religious art that reflects a truth often lost through a tradition of rehearsed dogma and doctrine. Anyone looking for a way in to such a rich and rewarding area of study should look no further."
Stephen Miller, Independent Scholar, in Reading Religion
Editor’s Introduction Christopher R. Brewer
The Power of Symbols
Artists as Theologians
Meaning in Religious Architecture