The Artistic Sphere: The Arts in Neo-Calvinist Perspective, Edited by Roger D. Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker alt

The Artistic Sphere

The Arts in Neo-Calvinist Perspective

Edited by Roger D. Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

The Artistic Sphere
  • Length: 432 pages
  • Published: January 02, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0798
  • ISBN: 9781514007983

*affiliate partner

While some Christians have embraced the relationship between faith and the arts, the Reformed tradition tends to harbor reservations about the arts.

However, among Reformed churches, the Neo-Calvinist tradition—as represented in the work of Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, Hans Rookmaaker, and others—has consistently demonstrated not just a willingness but a desire to engage with all manner of cultural and artistic expressions.

This volume, edited by art scholar Roger Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker, the daughter of art historian and cultural critic Hans Rookmaaker, brings together history, philosophy, and theology to consider the relationship between the arts and the Neo-Calvinist tradition. With affirmations including the Lordship of Christ, the cultural mandate, sphere sovereignty, and common grace, the Neo-Calvinist tradition is well-equipped to offer wisdom on the arts to the whole body of Christ.

"For many decades, the Kuyperian tradition has been at the forefront of nourishing a Christian imagination in the world of the arts. This excellent collection proves the point, as well as demonstrating how Neo-Calvinism can resource artists and Christian thinkers to tackle together the challenges of the future."

Jeremy Begbie, Duke University

"The Artistic Sphere is an engaging antidote to stereotypes that often cluster around Calvinism and visual images. These essays are not characterized by a uniform viewpoint. There are refreshing differences of emphasis and interpretation in the way topics like beauty, the imagination, or the social roles of art are discussed. This book is an excellent introduction to how the visual arts were and are shaped, understood, and used in Reformational cultures."

Theodore Prescott, emeritus professor of art at Messiah University

"These carefully selected essays from over a dozen theorists offer a fascinating tour of the rich perspectives and signature insights of the Kuyperian aesthetic tradition. The result is a first of its kind: a feast of theorists, central ideas, and productive themes that form the most significant tradition of theological aesthetics in the modern world. This rich collection evinces what those within the tradition have long believed: the Neo-Calvinist approach is invaluable for anyone seeking to offer a theological engagement with the arts in the twenty-first century. It's exactly what we have been needing: a readable overview of the most influential, least-known theological aesthetics in the modern period. What a gift!"

Robert Covolo, Fuller Seminary, author of Fashion Theology

"The Artistic Sphere is an indispensable collection of essays, skillfully tracing the legacy of Reformed theological aesthetics for over one hundred years, from Kuyper to Romaine and beyond. With its Christian perspective deeply rooted in Scripture, this book offers a redemptive model for those in art and theology."

Sandra Bowden, artist, collector of religious art, and curator

"This book serves as an excellent example of how commitment to a theological tradition can represent not the narrowing down of a vision for the arts, in this case the visual arts, but an expansive vision for such arts; how rootedness within a particular tradition results not in limited possibilities for the arts but in richly varied possibilities for both content and form; and how the faithful immersion in an artistic tradition, here a Neo-Calvinist one, leads not to the stifling of honest debate but instead to generative discourse. This book is a tremendous gift to the heirs of the Kuyperian tradition—and to those of us also who stand outside it."

W. David O. Taylor, associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Glimpses of the New Creation

"During my days as an art student, I hungered for a Christian worldview that celebrated the visual arts. When I came upon the writings of Francis Schaeffer and Hans Rookmaaker, it was a welcome feast. Their books introduced me to Reformed thought and led me naturally to the writings of Nicholas Wolterstorff, Calvin Seerveld, and E. John Walford—brilliant thinkers, all featured in this collection—who mined theological and aesthetic territory in fresh ways while remaining grounded in the material world and attuned to the artist's vocation. Like all traditions, Neo-Calvinist aesthetics advanced in fits and starts, but in this volume coeditors Roger D. Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker present a fine selection of essays, old and new, giving us a first-rate primer on visual art and Christian faith viewed through the lens of Reformed thought."

Cameron J. Anderson, visual artist and author of The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts

Read an Excerpt


Roger D. Henderson and Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

Part One: Roots
1. Geneva's Artistic Legacy: From Calvin to Today
Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker
2. Calvin and the Arts: Pure Vision or Blind Spot?
Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin
3. Rumors of Glory: Abraham Kuyper's Neo-Calvinist Theory of Art
Roger D. Henderson
4. Dooyeweerd's Aesthetics
Roger D. Henderson
Part Two: Art History
5. Art, Meaning, and Truth
Hans R. Rookmaaker
Looking with Historical Depth: Hugo van der Goes, Filippino Lippi and Albrecht Dürer
6. The Vocation of a Christian Art Historian: Strategic Choices in a Multicultural Context
E. John Walford
Ridentem dicere verum—Pieter Bruegel’s Peasant Wedding of Circa 1567
7. More than Can Be Seen: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.'s I See the Promised Land
James Romaine
Part Three: Aesthetics
8. The Halo of Human Imaginativity
Calvin Seerveld
The Meaning of the Crucifixion: Grünewald and Perugino
9. Rethinking Art
Nicholas Wolterstorff
The Social Protest Meaning of the Graphic Art of Käthe Kollwitz
10. Imagination, Art, and Civil Society: Re-envisioning Reformational Aesthetics
Lambert Zuidervaart
Redemptive Art Criticism
11. Art, Body, and Feeling: New Roads for Neo-Calvinist Aesthetics
Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin
Chris Ofili: Contemporary Art and the Return of Religion
Part Four: Theology and Art
12. The Theology of Art of Gerardus van der Leeuw and Paul Tillich
Wessel Stoker
13. The Elusive Quest for Beauty
William Edgar
14. Fifty-Plus Years of Art and Theology: 1970 to Today
Victoria Emily Jones

Bios of Authors
Figure Credits
General Index
Scripture Index


You May Also Like

Roger D. Henderson

Roger D. Henderson (PhD, Free University) studied philosophy at UC Berkeley before attending the Free University in Amsterdam, where he studied Herman Dooyeweerd's development. He has taught in both Iowa and the Netherlands and now lives in Berkeley, California.

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is the editor-in-chief of ArtWay. She edited the Complete Works of her father, art historian Hans Rookmaaker. She has also published three books in Dutch as well as many articles about popular music, liturgy, and the visual arts in Dutch and English books and magazines.