Fortress Press

Creativity as Sacrifice: Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts

Creativity as Sacrifice

Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts

James M. Watkins (Author)


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Theological interest in art is at a premium. However, theological engagement with art is often enacted without a clear sense of method. This text argues for a theological methodology in engaging the arts, and, specifically, the author puts forward a theological model for understanding human creativity in the light of Jesus’ sacrificial redemption. In dialogue with theology, philosophy, psychology, and art theory, the author establishes the relevance and applicability of an incarnational and sacrificial model of human creativity. Theological models also do more than provide a conceptual framework for theological inquiries. They engage the imagination. A theological model for human creativity is like an invitation to join in the creative vision God has for the world and to embody this vision in one’s own creative work. Therefore, Creativity as Sacrifice does not merely articulate a conceptual framework for human creativity; it also casts a vision for human life as a creative response to the gracious gifts of a creative God.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451472189
  • eBook ISBN 9781451494235
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 208
  • Emerging Scholars category Theology
  • Publication Date January 1, 2015


“Watkins’s project questions many of our dearly held but often problematic ideas about artistic creativity. Eschewing the model of artist as genius or icon of God, Watkins offers us a ‘sacrificial’ model, christologically through and through, that frees the artist from small, self-absorbed, self-defeating aims for the sake of a larger, more costly but also more deeply enriching vocation. This is a book you must get your hands on.”
—W. David O. Taylor
Fuller Theological Seminary

“Notions of human creativity in the arts cry out to be related positively and constructively to a robust theology of creation. In this important new study, James Watkins develops a doctrine of creation shaped from first to last by the Christian characterization of God as one who takes flesh and offers himself sacrificially for the sake of his creatures. Such costly self-emptying, he suggests, lies at the heart of all genuinely creative enterprise on the artist’s part too. A significant new perspective which offers to artists a fresh vision and grounding for their work.”
Trevor Hart
Rector, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, UK

“The biblical injunction to be ‘imitators of God’ is one of the most mysterious and daunting in the Christian canon, and any attempt to respond to it adequately will be disorientating as well as—potentially—transformative. In this study, Jim Watkins enters into dialogue with a range of modern artists and theologians to explore the ways in which the imitation of God may be envisaged afresh through attention to models of artistic creativity. In doing so, he offers insights into the nature of human agency more generally (an agency that is only free because it is also both risky and other-regarding), seeing such agency as a form of participation in God’s work of redemption. It is a bold, serious-minded, and ethically passionate book.”
Ben Quash
King’s College London