Thursday, December 5, 2013

All Things Denote There is a God

Last night a friend and I attended an Interfaith Panel Discussion at the Springville Museum of Art.  The theme of the discussion was "Art & Worship," and the panel featured representatives from several faiths, including Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Presbyterianism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  After brief presentations by each of the representatives, the members of the panel answered questions and drew further parallels between worship and the creative arts.

The presentations were instructive and edifying, as was the discussion following the presentations.  At the conclusion of the event, the woman representing the LDS faith made the point that much of the best loved iconography of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been produced by people of different faiths.  In fact, the religious art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hoffman, and Frans Schwartz is now on display at the BYU Museum of Art in an exhibit entitled "Sacred Gifts".

As the representatives for each faith presented a brief history and commentary on the role of art in worship, it became clear that each considered God to be the Supreme Artist, and that one of the purposes of art is to glorify the God as the Great Creator of the universe and of mankind.  Although each faith tradition and each individual artist is unique, the process of creation is itself a reflection of divinity.  In the words of the Prophet Alma:

"The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44, see also D&C 88:47)

As beings created in the image and likeness of God, we have been endowed, though currently on a much smaller scale, with the ability and the capacity to create.  There is already much of beauty and wonder that is on display in the universe, and on this earth, but the creations of God are without number and without end:

"And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten." (Moses 1:33)

"And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:38-39)

After the Lord had created the earth and everything in it, He pronounced it good (Genesis 1:25).  But not until God had created man in His own likeness and image, and woman, the pinnacle of creation, could He pronounce it very good (Genesis 1:31).  And not until the due time of the Lord will His work be finished:

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated
every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:540)
As the Lord declared in the record of Nephi:

"And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever." (2 Ne. 29:9)

Or, as the the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in his Wentworth Letter:

"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." (Articles of Faith 1:9)

In other words, many masters of music, drawing, painting, sculpture, theater, film, literature, poetry and dance have already added their contributions of beauty and truth to the world, and it is well that we study and become familiar with their works.  But, in many ways, the work of creation is just beginning (see The Arts and the Spirit of the Lord).


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