Divine Generosity and Human Creativity

Theology through Symbol, Painting and Architecture

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David Brown
Christopher R. Brewer, Robert MacSwain
  • New York, NY: 
    , February
     208 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Partly in a desire to defend divine freedom and partly because it is seen as the only way of preserving a distinctive voice for theology, much contemporary theology has artificially restricted revelation and religious experience, effectively cutting off those who find God beyond the walls of the Church. Against this tendency, David Brown argues for divine generosity and a broader vision of reality that sees God deploying symbols (literary, visual and sacramental) as a means of mediating between the divine world and our own material existence. A sustained argument for divine interaction and more specifically the ways in which God speaks in the wider imaginative world, this volume calls for a careful listening exercise since symbols are richer and more open in their possibilities than their users often suppose. Not only is this true of the imagery of Scripture, even inanimate objects like buildings or hostile but creative artists can have important things to say to the believing Christian. An ideal introduction that also moves the conversation forward, this volume addresses foundations, the multivalent power of symbols, artists as theologians and meaning in religious architecture.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

David Brown retired from the University of St Andrews as Professor of Theology, Aesthetics and Culture in 2015, having previously held positions at Oxford and Durham. Five major volumes on relations between theology and the arts were published with OUP between 1999 and 2008, with a large edited volume on Durham Cathedral: History, Fabric and Culture(Yale, 2015) his most recent contribution. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002 and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012.

Christopher R. Brewer is visiting scholar at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has edited or co-edited three volumes, including Art that Tells the Story.

Robert MacSwain is associate professor of theology at the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, USA. The author of Solved by Sacrifice: Austin Farrer, Fideism, and the Evidence of Faith, he has edited or co-edited six other volumes, including Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture: Responses to the Work of David Brown.

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