Student art organization relates theology to creativity

Communications Staff — April 10, 2008

Beginning this semester approximately 25 students are gathering once a month at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to relate Christian theology to artistic expressions of various forms.

The group, known as Imago Dei, is the seminary’s new student art organization and meets on the last Friday of each month.

The idea for a student art organization began among members of Southern’s student council. As the idea developed, Steve Halla, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Theology and the Arts, became the group’s faculty advisor.

Halla said Imago Dei has a threefold mission and works along with the Center for Theology and the Arts to incorporate the arts into the life of the church.

“The organization,” Halla said, “has three main objectives: to work alongside the Center for Theology and the Arts to provide volunteer help for events and functions sponsored by the center; to create opportunities for students to utilize and express their artistic skills and talents; and to bring in art-related speakers and organize forums to discuss topics related to Christianity and the arts.”

Founded in 2006, the Center for Theology and the Arts studies the interaction between Christian theology and the various arts. Its goal is to help Christians to develop a biblical understanding of such issues as aesthetics, artistic expression and appreciation.

Imago Dei’s name originated with Logan Mauldin, a master of divinity student from Williston, Fla., and current student leader of the organization.

“By choosing Imago Dei, Logan wanted to communicate the idea that part of being made in God’s image and likeness includes possessing a God-given creativity,” Halla said.

Though relating art to theology may seem unnatural to some, Halla said the two have a long history together and both fit into Southern’s mission.

“The organization complements the purpose of the seminary by serving as an offshoot of the Center for Theology and the Arts,” he said. “Historically, the arts have always played an important role in the church. It is my hope that through this organization, students will be encouraged and inspired to think of new and creative ways to incorporate the use of the arts into the life, worship and ministry of the local church.”

Imago Dei’s next meeting will occur April 25, when Timothy Paul Jones, professor of Christian education and leadership at Southern, will discuss “Beauty, Glory and Awe in Star Wars.”

For further information on Imago Dei, contact Halla at shalla@sbts.edu or 502-897-4370.

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