Headphones And Homiletics
“All creativity begins and ends with God.” (p. 26). That’s what Images and Idols by Thomas Terry (Odd Thomas of Beautiful Eulogy) and J. Ryan Lister is all about. Too often, especially in Christian circles, the conversation about creativity is an argument more about a creative method or formula than the ultimate purpose behind human creativity. Images and Idols goes much deeper than that.
Before getting into the content, it is worth noting the aesthetics of this book. The artistic flair is subtle and yet puts the core message of God-centered creative excellence on display. The cover is beautifully designed with added textures so that the book feels unique. The pages are high quality with sleek designs and infographics scattered about, highlighting relevant quotes and illustrating key points. My favorite aspect is the gold printed scripture references which literally stand out among all of the other words on the page.
Terry and Lister remind us that “our creativity exists to spread beauty through the prism of the greatest commandment” (p. 59). This is immediately relevant to my life as a writer and rapper. I was also struck deeply by the reality that “many creatives do not mature in their beliefs but rather ‘mature’ beyond their beliefs” (p. 85). To be honest, I was thinking of particular artists until I read: “the research done in this chapter was done mostly in our hearts” (p. 85). Coming from one of the most explicitly gospel-centered artists I’ve heard (Terry), this was a humbling reminder. I long for this depth of humility in my ministry!
Images and Idols is loaded with scripture, gospel, and cultural relevance. In every chapter, creatives are reminded that our work is not about us. As humans in a post-Genesis 3 world, “we either make a god with our imaginations or make ourselves gods with our imaginations” (p. 78). Thankfully, the Re-Creator became flesh by entering His own creation and story for His own glory. Our creativity is from God and for God, and He re-creates those who trust in Christ so that we can reflect His image and share the most creative story in the world—the gospel.
Terry and Lister skillfully and excellently crafted a book that can benefit both creatives and those who simply enjoy the art that comes from the creative types. We can enjoy God and His glory through the creation around us and the creative work of His image-bearers. Whether in explicitly evangelistic art or art specifically created to point to God’s common grace, the most loving thing we can do is glorify God in how we make and enjoy art.
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Chrys Jones is a Christian, husband, father of three, pastor, and teacher. He is also a recording artist and producer for Christcentric Records and a book briefer for Accelerate Books. In his free time, Chrys loves to spend time with his family, roast coffee, read good books, and listen to beat tapes and jazz.