Saturday, April 18, 2015

Christians and Creativity: The Origin of Creativity

A big frustration of mine as a little girl was when I sat down to color. Taking up my crayon, I had a vision of a beautiful butterfly I had seen that I wanted to draw. I scrunched up my nose and carefully moved my crayon across the page. In the end, I had created a butterfly. But my creation would never live up to what I had seen in real life.

Why are we compelled to create? Why do we imitate the beauty we see around us, like in a drawing, or express our human feelings through art? We could say that every person on earth has this desire to be creative in some way. But where did that desire come from? As Christians, we can trace creativity back to the very begining.

The Original Creator

In the begining God spoke, and the world sprung into existence. This is ex nihilo. When God spoke, He created. Out of nothing came colors, textures, smells, and sounds in dazzling variety.

In considering God's creative genius, let me share the thoughts of a man named Daniel Loizeux. He breaks down the wonders of creation into four headings; perfection, diversity, profusion, and inventiveness. [1] With these divisions we can better see the scope of God's creativity.


  • Perfection

Everything God has created was made in perfect detail. Have you ever seen a snowflake really close up? The beauty in it's crystalline perfection is hard to miss. Study the depth of color in a peacock's feather, the scales on a butterfly's wing, or the human eye. God's original creations were made perfect and without flaw in the begining. Man's creations very often have flaws, whether in the design or execution. But flaws aren't so bad. God makes it so that even this flawed and fallen world can still contain beauty.



  • Diversity

Did you know that insect species make up for 72% of all the animals on earth? Of this general group, the Coleoptera (Beetles) have more species than any other order of insects. They account for 40% of insect species, and new species of beetles are still being discovered! Beetles are found practically all over the world and posses a variety of attributes. They come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. Some have horns and some have stripes! Why am I telling you about beetles? They are just one of many, many examples of dazzling diversity in our world.



  • Profusion

Hand in hand with the vast diversity in creation, think of the profusion of beauty as well. When I dwell on this concept I think of the foothills in northern Georgia at the peak of Fall color. The rolling hills are covered in swaying masses of golden, red, and amber trees. It just goes on and on to the horizon. A starry night sky is the same. You could look up and stare into the depths of the glittering midnight sky and never see all the stars that God has created.


  • Inventiveness

The design God put into the world and it's creatures is incredible. From the inner workings of the human body to the daily originality of a sunrise and sunset. The best part is God didn't borrow His ideas from anyone. Everything He made is a certified original.



Talk about an artist! His technique was flawless, the mediums were diverse, the products kept coming, and every single one was an original. But do you know what God's crowning jewel of creation was? Humans. When God made man and woman He signed His name on the masterpieces. He made us in His image.

So what does this mean? Well it means we've inherited His creativity. Unlike him we can't create from out of nothing, but we can imitate everything we see around us. A theologian named Jerram Barrs called us "sub-creators" to kinda sum up the idea that we take after God's creative genius.[2] So that's where the compulsion to be creative comes from. It's built into us to express ourselves like God did; through visual art, and even written word.

Remember when God told Adam to name all the animals on earth? Yes, it was Adam's first job so there's the introduction of work, but don't you think Adam had to get creative with the names? God didn't tell Adam what to call them. He let Adam make up the names himself. That, to me, is an evidence that creativity is a gift that glorifies God. When we are creative we mirror Him, and ultimately He gets the glory.

Creativity in all Mankind

So here's something to think about. If God gave this gift to all mankind, doesn't that include believers and non-believers alike? It may not seem like such a big deal, but stick with me for a second. The next installment of this series is going to touch on secular art. The Evangelical church today is pretty split when it comes to dealing with that. What the assumption is saying is that an unbeliever can be just as artistically talented as a christian. And they, through creating, are still mirroring God and He still ultimately gets the glory.

Another theologian, John Calvin, has some thoughts that might clarify this. That earlier guy named Jerram Barrs quoted John Calvin in his article Christianity and the Arts. John Calvin used the terms "common grace" and "special grace" to explain how the God-given gift of creativity applies to Christians and unbelievers. Common grace would be God's generosity to all of mankind. That explains why some of the greatest artistic geniuses of our time can be secular. Special grace would be where God speciffically blesses a Christian with artistic talent.

That hopefully brings up some questions to consider before the next installment. Can secular art be good art? Is there anything to gain from reading secular literature?





Now we know a bit more about the origin of creativity. God is the original creator and we are His special creations. Since we bear His image we inherited an innate creativity. That explains our compulsion to express ourselves through art. It also makes me think. If this is a gift that can glorify God, why do writers so often feel that they have to go out of their way to combine their creativity with their Christian ministry? The two should naturally go hand in hand. Just like God and Creativity.









1. Daniel Loizeaux, "The Imagination of God," Genesis: Journal of the Society of Christians in the Arts, Inc.

2. Jerram Barrs, "Christianity and the Arts", originally appeared as Chapter 18 in All for Jesus: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Covenant Theological Seminary. Christian Focus Publications, 2006.



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