Friday, October 28, 2005
Worship and Conquest
The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival is in full swing. In its opening ceremonies, organizers expounded the theme of art as warfare, a juxtaposition that may seem jarring. However, I think it is an apt comparison.
In his exposition of Old Testament bibilical themes, Peter Leithart points out that the first battles of Joshua's conquest were fought on the same ground where Abraham had built altars centuries before. This means that worship consecrates the land on which it is conducted to God. It becomes holy ground, set aside for Yahweh's use and pleasure. "Worship is the pre-conquest of Canaan..." as Leithart says.
The line between worship and art is a fine one. Certainly art participates in worship. Art is the handmaid of worship. Everything that God established in the Old Testament worship templates drips with art. Embroidered tapestries were the walls and doors of the Tabernacle. The furnishings were finely wrought gold, silver and brass. The air was perfumed with incense. The priests wore gorgeous robes. The rituals performed by the worshippers formed a stately dance of repentance and redemption, which ususally climaxed with a banquet in God's presence.
In our day, our culture's imagination is an un-conquered pagan stronghold. It will not fall to the haphazard efforts of un-connected individualists, who are in it for the fun or the fame. No, it will need an army of true artists, who will craft their work as both worship and warfare.
Jericho fell to the trumpets announcing the arrival of the True King, Whose throne was carried on the shoulders of the Levites. The swordplay that followed was a mop-up operation. King Jehosaphat (2 Chron 20) turned the tide of a hopeless battle by sending out Levites singing the praises of God. We would do well to follow their example.