The Spirit of aBsTRActioN

During a search for activities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that might not appeal to my mother-in-law (just joking, Ginny!), I stumbled across the website of the Museum for Biblical Art.  I like art, and I love the Bible.  So I figured checking it out for free might convince me to spend $15 to see it in person.  Verdict: probably, assuming Tracie can be convinced.

One part I found a bit perplexing, though, is an outdoor exhibit called “The Spirit of Abstraction.”  I’m not a postmodernist kind of guy, either in art or in anything else, so I’ll admit I was predisposed to be dismissive.  But the two photos I saw from the exhibit connoted nothing of a Biblical nature at all.  It looked like the same mess of metal and pile of sticks you would see at any other modern art exhibit, minus the jars of urine with crucifixes.

But then, maybe that’s the point.  Maybe the artists and curators are commenting on the worthlessness of religion in the absence of specific direction.  If we see the Bible as an abstraction, merely a box of ingredients from which we can form our own custom-made philosophy, our results will be no different from those of the out-and-out secularists. 

Or perhaps it is the opposite.  Perhaps we are to infer that religion is best left to the individual’s  personal taste and preference.  Trying to restrict our modern culture to ancient archetypes is overly limiting; we should be left to find our own way, using whatever material we may have on hand.

Or maybe it’s a huge inside joke.  Religion is a fraud.  The emperor has no clothes.  Elitist snobs can chuckle under their breath all day long as Christians try to prove their righteousness by finding “meaning” in a pile of rubbish, just like they do with the Bible itself.

All that said, here’s my point of view: looking at the Bible through postmodern lenses destroys the whole point of God’s message for mankind.

The Bible is not an abstraction.  It is God’s message for mankind, intended to light our way through life (Psalm 119:105) all the way to heavenly glory (John 14:1-4).  It is written so as to be understood.  In Paul’s words, “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4).

The Bible is representational.  Here is Jesus.  Examine Him closely as He is.  Copy and duplicate.  Not a lot of room for interpretation, at least on the central issues.  Just John 14:6, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Corinthians 11:1, etc.  It is intended to be accessible, discernible, and practical. 

So perhaps I’m not giving the exhibit its proper due.  Perhaps the exhibit is a comment on our godless culture, deploring its unwavering determination to destroy itself with self-will, stubbornness and rebellion.

Or maybe it’s a mess of metal and a pile of sticks.

Either way, I suppose you see what you want to see.