The Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Art
- Monday, September 24, 2012
Tongues is supposed to be a "heavenly language" that one uses to communicate with God when our language isn't enough. Art absolutely does this. I believe that art is a form of "language" and one that can speak far more powerfully and clearly than the English that I speak. Most aestheticians and artists talk of art as language, it is core to their explanation of what art is and what it does. Also, I have experienced a communion with God on the spiritual level while doing every art I do - song writitng, acting, directing, choreographing, painting, etc. So art absolutely fits this category.
2. That the message spoken aloud in public through the medium of tongues would also have an interpreter that would interpret the tongues.
Interestingly enough, art fulfills this as well. Almost everyone in the public who perceives an art work will interpret it. Add to that the many heads of churches, museum curators, artistic directors, art teachers, critics and the like that will interpret the artwork for the audience. The art can be interpreted personally by each member of society and publicly by people who have been set aside to critique or review the art form.
(Last and the most outrageous and miraculous form of tongues was at Pentecost. This was the Holy Spirit moving in an amazing way in a way that I haven't ever seen since I have been alive... or had I?)
1. That tongues of flames came over the disciples heads and gave them the ability to speak in tongues that people of different languages could all understand at the same time as at Pentecost.
I must admit that I have never seen tongues of flames over anyone's head to date, but the idea that one would speak a heavenly language that all cultures and societies across the globe could understand at once IS actually possible with art. As a matter of fact, in his book art in action Nicholas Woltersdorff cites a cross-cultural study that was done in the arts. In this study, random people were selected from all over the globe and they were to look at one hundred pieces of art. The study then had them commit to which pieces they liked and which they didn't. All of the participants chose seventy five percent of the same art works as being the pieces they personally enjoyed. The implications of this study go further than the commentary in this blog but it does point out that over seventy five percent of a grouping of artworks spoke personally to a cross cultural group. This is astounding! To me, this is strong evidence that art is a language that all cultures can potentially understand.
So I believe that my wife was right without a doubt, but I find it more amazing that art fulfills all three of the ways the gift of tongues manifests AT THE SAME TIME! I am not discounting anyone's heavenly language. I do believe that tongues works in the way we often see it happen. It is so unusual, God must love it, because our God is a God of mystery and wonder and miracle. But this theory of art as the gift of tongues is certainly one worth pondering.
Derek Martin is the Artistic Director of the americana theatre company and Creative Arts Chair at William Jessup University. He is passionate about his wife (Jennifer), family, friends, people, the Bible, creative storytelling, Christianity and the Arts, and this big, wonderful, mysterious life that we are blessed to live.
This article appeared originally on the curious and the creative. Used with permission.
Publication date: September 24, 2012
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