FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 368 My letter to Adam Levine who appears in the video “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash FEATURED ARTIST IS Damien Hirst


Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Johnny Cash’s version of the traditional God’s Gonna Cut You Down, from the album “American V: A Hundred Highways”, was released as a music video on November 9 2006, just over three years after Cash died. Producer Rick Rubin opens the music video, saying, “You know, Johnny always wore black. He wore black because he identified with the poor and the downtrodden…”. What follows is a collection of black and white clips of well known pop artists wearing black, each interacting with the song in their own way. Some use religious imagery. Howard sits in his limo reading from Ezekiel 34, a Biblical passage warning about impending judgment for false shepherd. Bono leaning on a graffiti-filled wall between angel’s wings and a halo, pointing to the words, “Sinners Make The Best Saints. J.C. R.I.P.” A number of artists wear or hold crosses.

Faces in Johnny Cash God's Gonna Cut You Down music video

Artists appear in this order: Rick Rubin, Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Patti Smith, Terence Howard, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Q-Tip, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Sir Peter Blake (Sgt Peppers Artist), Sheryl Crow, Denis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Amy Lee of Evanescence, Tommy Lee, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Mick Jones, Sharon Stone, Bono, Shelby Lynne, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Barker, Lisa Marie Presley, Kid Rock, Jay Z, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Depp, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin and Owen Wilson. The video finishes with Rick Rubin traveling to a seaside cliff with friend Owen Wilson to throw a bouquet of flowers up in the air.

March 16, 2019

Adam Levine

Beverly Hills, CA 90210-5213

Dear Adam,

I understand that you are Jewish. If Johnny Cash was here today, I bet he would share something like this below from the scriptures. Johnny was a student of the whole Bible. He wrote the book THE MAN IN WHITE about the apostle Paul and it took him 10 years to write and in that book you can tell that he spent much time in research asking Jewish leaders what life was like for the Jews in the 1st century in Palestine while being occupied by the Romans.

I know that you will spending lots of time in the scriptures and I wanted to share with you some key scriptures that talk about the Messiah.

Uniqueness of Jesus

Who Is Jesus Christ?

By Bill Bright

What if you could predict that a major world event would take place five minutes from now? What if you could accurately describe what would happen? Would knowing the future give you unusual power? Would anyone believe you? Possibly some would, but how many would not?

Many people do not believe the Bible, yet it miraculously foretells hundreds of events, sometimes in minute detail, and usually hundreds – sometimes thousands – of years ahead. Some prophecies concern cities and countries, such as Tyre, Jericho, Samaria, Jerusalem, Palestine, Moab, and Babylon. Others relate to specific individuals. Many have already been fulfilled, but some are still in the future.

Jesus Christ is the subject of more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. His birth nearly 2,000 years ago, and events of His life had been foretold by many prophets during a period of 1,500 years. History confirms that even the smallest detail happened just as predicted. It confirms beyond a doubt that Jesus is the true Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.

The following chart lists some of the amazing predictions concerning Jesus Christ, together with the record of their fulfillment:

His Birth
Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14
Fullfillment in Jesus: Matthew 1:18,22,23

His Birthplace
Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2
Fullfillment in Jesus: Luke 2:4,6,7

His Childhood in Egypt
Old Testament Prophecy: Hosea 11:1
Fullfillment in Jesus: Matthew 2:14-15

The Purpose for His Death
Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 53:4-6
Fullfillment in Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15:21; 1 Peter 2:24

His Betrayal
Old Testament Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12-13; 13:6
Fullfillment in Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; 27:3-10

His Crucifixion
Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 22
Fullfillment in Jesus: Matthew 27

His Resurrection
Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 16:9-10
Fullfillment in Jesus: Acts 2:31

The printed version of this study contains 29 pages of preparatory notes not included in the online version of this study. Click here to order the printed study guide, The Uniqueness of Jesus.

Isaiah 53-54

English Standard Version (ESV)

53 (A)Who has believed what he has heard from us?[a]
And to whom has (B)the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
(C)and like a root out of dry ground;
(D)he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
(E)He was despised and rejected[b] by men;
a man of sorrows,[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[f]
he was despised, and (F)we esteemed him not.

(G)Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
(H)smitten by God, and afflicted.
(I)But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
(J)and with his wounds we are healed.
(K)All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
(L)and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
(M)yet he opened not his mouth;
(N)like a (O)lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, (P)who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
(Q)and with a rich man in his death,
although (R)he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet (S)it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;[g]
(T)when his soul makes[h] an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
(U)the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall (V)the righteous one, my servant,
(W)make many to be accounted righteous,
(X)and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 (Y)Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,[j]
(Z)and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,[k]
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
(AA)yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

The Eternal Covenant of Peace

54 (AB)“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of (AC)the desolate one (AD)will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
(AE)“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
(AF)For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.

“Fear not, (AG)for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
(AH)For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
(AI)and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
(AJ)the God of the whole earth he is called.
(AK)For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
(AL)For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
(AM)In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
(AN)but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.

“This is like (AO)the days of Noah[l] to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and (AP)my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 (AQ)“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, (AR)I will set your stones in antimony,
(AS)and lay your foundations with sapphires.[m]
12 I will make your pinnacles of agate,[n]
your gates of carbuncles,[o]
and all your wall of precious stones

You and I have something in common and it is the song GOD’S GONNA CUT YOU DOWN. You were in the video and my post about that video entitled, People in the Johnny Cash video “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” is the most popular post I have done in recent years. It ranked #1 for all of 2015 and I have over 1,000,000 hits on my blog site. The ironic thing is that I never knew what a big deal Johnny Cash was until he had died. I grew up in Memphis with his nephew Paul Garrett and we even went to the same school and church. Paul’s mother was Johnny Cash’s sister Margaret Louise Garrett.

Stu Carnall, an early tour manager for Johnny Cash, recalled, “Johnny’s an individualist, and he’s a loner….We’d be on the road for weeks at a time, staying at motels and hotels along the way. While the other members of the troupe would sleep in, Johnny would disappear for a few hours. When he returned, if anyone asked where he’d been, he’d answer straight faced, ‘to church.'”

There were two sides to Johnny Cash and he expressed that best when he said, “There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.”

Have you ever taken the time to read the words of the song?

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler,
The gambler,
The back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
I’ve been down on bended knee talkin’ to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John go do My will!”

 Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand

Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light
You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Johnny Cash sang this song of Judgment because he knew the Bible says in  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” The first part of this verse is about the judgment sinners must face if not pardoned, but the second part is about Christ who paid our sin debt!!! Did you know that Romans 6:23 is part of what we call the Roman Road to Christ. Here is how it goes:
  • Because of our sin, we are separated from God.
    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • The Penalty for our sin is death.
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!
    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!
    For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)
    …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thanks for your time.

Everette Hatcher,,, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221

PS: I have enclosed a booklet entitled THIS WAS YOUR LIFE! If one repents and puts trust in Christ alone for eternal life then he or she will be forgiven. Francis Schaeffer noted, “If Satan tempts you to worry over it, rebuff him by saying I AM FORGIVEN ON THE BASIS OF THE WORK OF CHRIST AS HE DIED ON THE CROSS!!!”

  • American singer and civil rights activist Odetta recorded a traditional version of the song. Musician Sean Michel covered the song during his audition on Season 6 of American Idol. Matchbox Twenty also used the song before playing “How Far We’ve Come” on their “Exile in America” tour.

  • The New Jersey rock band The Gaslight Anthem have also covered the song.[citation needed] Canadian rock band Three Days Grace has used the song in the opening of their live shows, as well as the rock band Staind . Bobbie Gentry recorded a version as “Sermon” on her album The Delta Sweete. Guitarist Bill Leverty recorded a version for his third solo project Deep South, a tribute album of traditional songs. Tom Jones recorded an up-tempo version which appears on his 2010 album Praise & BlamePow woW recorded a version with the Golden Gate Quartet for their 1992 album Regagner les Plaines and performed a live version with the quartet in 2008. A cover of the song by Blues Saraceno was used for the Season 8 trailer of the TV series DexterPedro Costarecorded a neo-blues version for the Discovery channel TV show Weed Country (2013). Virginia based folk rock band Carbon Leaf covered the song many times during their live shows.
  • Chart positions[edit]

    Moby version: “Run On”[edit]

    Chart (1999) Peak
    UK Singles Chart 33

    Johnny Cash version[edit]

    Chart (2006) Peak
    UK Singles Chart 77

  • American Idol contestant ministers in Chile

  • SANTIAGO, Chile (BP)–Sean Michel smiled through his distinctive, foot-long beard as he slid the guitar strap over his shoulder and greeted the crowd at El Huevo nightclub with what little Spanish he knows. The former American Idol contestant and his band then erupted into the sounds of Mississippi Delta blues-rock.But unlike other musicians who played that night, the Sean Michel band sang about every person’s need for God and the salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.”We came down [to Chile] to open doors that other ministries couldn’t,” said Jay Newman, Michel’s manager. “To get in places that only a rock band could — to create a vision for new church-planting movements among the underground, disenfranchised subcultures of Chile.”The Sean Michel band recently traveled through central Chile playing more than 15 shows in bars, churches, schools and parks. The group consists of Southern Baptists Sean Michel, lead singer; Alvin Rapien, lead guitarist; Seth Atchley, bass guitarist; and Tyler Groves, drummer.”Although we’re a blues rock ‘n’ roll band, we’re an extension of the church,” Michel said. “We’re kind of like ‘musicianaries,’ if you will.”MISSIONS-MINDED MUSICIANSThe band formed after Michel and Newman met as students at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. While there, the two began recording and selling Michel’s music as a way to raise money for mission trips to Africa and Asia.”We were just trying to raise money for a mission trip, but we’d also seen God speaking to people through the music,” Michel said. “So we were like, ‘Well, maybe we need to do something with this,’ and we became a music ministry. But it’s always been rooted in missions and … in the Great Commission.”Michel graduated from Ouachita in 2001, Newman in 2004. In 2007, Newman talked Michel into auditioning for American Idol. The exposure Michel received through the television show gained a wider audience for their ministry.”The whole American Idol thing was so weird,” Michel said. “We just kind of went on a whim. But the Lord used it in a big way.”During his tryout, Michel belted out a soulful rendition of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” The video of the audition went viral on the Internet.Soon he was doing radio interviews in which he identified himself as a Christian and directed listeners to the band’s Gospel-laden MySpace page. On their next mission trip to Asia, Michel and Newman found that being recognizable gave them access to venues they couldn’t have entered before.The band is now an official extension of First Southern Baptist Church of Bryant, Ark., where the musicians have long been active members serving in the music and youth ministries. Every mission trip they have taken has involved working with International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries.”We’re Southern Baptist,” Michel said. “That’s who we roll with.”


    “With short-term mission trips, you can plan, but you just got to be willing for your plans to change,” said Michel. When the band arrived in Chile, they were surprised to find that their schedule wasn’t nearly as full as expected. Almost no public venues had booked shows, and many rock-wary churches had declined to host the band.

    “The biggest barrier we had was the pastors,” said Cliff Case, an IMB missionary in Santiago, Chile, and a 1984 graduate of Ouachita Baptist. “The older pastors on two or three different occasions gave excuses for not doing it. It was a real frustration in that sense.”

    Disappointed by the lack of interest, the band prayed for God’s help. They met Jose Campos — or Pépe, as the band came to know him. Campos works with music and youth for the Ministry of the Down and Out, an independent Christian ministry that seeks to reach the often-overlooked demographics of Santiago.

    Campos was able to use his connections to book shows for the band in venues they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

    “Had we met Pépe (Campos) two or three weeks before the group came, there’s no telling how many shows we might have done,” said Case, who met Newman at Ouachita when Case and his wife, Cinthy, were missionaries-in-residence there.

    Campos booked the show at El Huevo, possibly Chile’s most popular club. Playing there has given the band musical credibility among Chilean rockers. And, one Chilean church reported that a youth accepted Christ after hearing Newman talk before a show. The band already is contemplating a return tour next year.


    Sharing the Gospel through their songs is only the beginning for the Sean Michel band. Their vision is to be a catalyst to help churches — and missionaries — connect with the lost people of their communities.

    “God is not saving the world through rock bands,” Michel said. “He’s saving the world through the church. And it will always be through the local body.”

    The band wants to see churches take ministry beyond the church doors.

    “If you’re going to want to legitimately reach lost people, you’re going to have to get out,” Michel said. “Go out into the dark places. Those are the places we need to be to reach out.”

    The band’s ministry in Chile opened new doors for IMB missionaries to reach the young, musical subculture of Chilean society.

    “They laid the groundwork for more opportunities,” Case said. “Now we have a network of who to talk to and how to get organized. We can focus on how to use the work they’re doing so we can win people to the Lord and plant some churches.”

    Tristan Taylor is an International Mission Board writer living in the Americas.

  • Damien Hirst – The First Look presented by Channel 4

    Published on Apr 3, 2012

    Featuring Noel Fielding

    At the 5:00 point in the video above the 1991 artwork “THE PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY OF DEATH IN THE MIND OF SOMEONE LIVING” is featured.

    The Scream, a Stuffed Shark, and the Insecurity of Culture

    Last week I took the opportunity of the record sale at auction of Edvard Munch’s masterpiece, The Scream (1895) to reflect on Munch and his work from a theological perspective. But the auctions themselves, which achieved record prices for several artists, raise their own set of theological questions that are more productive and interesting than most media commentary, which cites the disconnect between the art world and the so-called real world, or questions whether a work of art is worth $120 million.  Given the attention that the auctions have received the last few weeks inThe New York Times and the fact that British artist Damien Hirst’s retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London opened last month, I thought it worthwhile to republish a slightly edited version of a blog post entitled, “The Stuffed Shark and the Insecurity of Culture,” originally published at Comment: Public Theology for the Common Good on February 15, 2012.

    Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991


    The Art Market

    The media coverage surrounding British artist Damien Hirst’s presentation of over three hundred “dot” paintings at Larry Gagosian’s eleven galleries around the world (most of them painted by his assistants), reminded me of my defense of his most infamous work, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) in the Summer 2010 issue of Comment. Commissioned by the British advertising executive and art collector Charles Saatchi, the fourteen-foot stuffed tiger shark suspended in a tank filled with formaldehyde was sold in 2005 to the American hedge fund executive Stephen Cohen for $12 million and recently donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This work embodies the mysterious opacity of the contemporary art world, which frustrates even the most culturally engaged Christians.

    I wrote that Christians need a more robust understanding of the rich and complex habitus of the contemporary art world, consisting of the labyrinthine network of institutional and sociological fields that can make a stuffed shark a highly successful and valuable work of art. I argued that the cultural mandate—what Andy Crouch calls “the relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else”—includes the messy and sometimes unsightly and smelly sausage-making that characterizes the means and mechanisms by which art makes its way from the studio to galleries, private collections, and museums. I went further to suggest that with its holy days, liturgies, relics, and other practices that maintain belief, the art world operates like a religion. And that should command our interest, whether or not we like the stuffed shark or find problematic aspects of the institutional framework that made it possible.

    But there is a much darker side to the contemporary art world, which economist Don Thompson explores in The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (Palgrave/ Macmillan, 2008). The book analyzes the mystifying economic structure that characterizes contemporary art at the highest echelons. For Thompson, this art world is defined by insecurity. “Never underestimate,” states an auction house director, “how insecure buyers are about contemporary art, and how much they always need reassurance.” Insecurity is the fuel that powers the network of auction houses, galleries, museums, and interpretation, which serve as validating mechanisms, reinforcing decisions to acquire, represent, exhibit, or review an artist’s work. Thompson’s book suggests that this rarely has to do with the quality of the work of art itself, but the leverage of secondary indicators. “The value of art often has more to do with artist, dealer, or auction-house branding, and with collector ego, than it does with art.” But the collector’s ego is fragile. “Most of all,” Thompson writes, “they want reassurance that, when they hang the art their friends will not ridicule their purchase.” Whether it is $12 million for a stuffed shark or $200,000 for a canvas with oil paints smeared on it, collectors need to be confident that their purchase brings power, prestige, and cultural capital.

    Artists who work at this elite level know this and develop their own strategies to provide such reassurance. “The job of the artist,” Francis Bacon once said, “is always to deepen the mystery.” The strange personas and outrageous gestures of Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Maurizio Cattelan are intentionally crafted efforts to enchant collectors, easing their insecurity. In an age when collectors and dealers regularly consult a website called Artfacts (, which ranks artists like stocks, rising and falling on a daily basis, such strategies are absolutely necessary to preserve any creative autonomy and human integrity.

    The insecurity that haunts collectors and dealers can crush artists, forcing them into a high-stakes game of behavioral poker, in which their very livelihoods and identities are determined by a small group of wealthy but unpredictable collectors pursuing entertainment and validation. To dismiss this as antithetical to the integrity of art over-idealizes it and distorts the social and institutional fabric from which the work emerges. Moreover, this situation is the same for a painter of landscapes as it is for Damien Hirst.  It was also the same for artists like Munch, whose decision to return to Norway was a strategic effort to diversify the market for his work before the outbreak of World War I.

    Edvard Munch in his studio, 1938

    Culture and Law & Gospel

    For the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, the cultural mandate is the foundation upon which vocation is built, encouraging culture-making and faithful presence in contemporary culture. After the Fall, however, we must exercise this God-given responsibility and desire to cultivate the earth east of Eden, in Cain’s city of Enoch. Culture thus bears the mark of Cain, the curse of toil and hardship. It is what is produced by our desperate wanderings, geographically and spiritually, and our greatest cultural monuments are often wrought through violence and death. Leo Tolstoy’s wife, Sofia, who sacrificed her life to serve her husband, wondered how many people would have to be consumed to enable the fire of genius to burn. It is impossible to read  The Death of Ivan Ilych or Anna Karenina and not consider the pain and misery that the production of these undeniably humanizing works caused to the author’s friends and family, not to mention to Tolstoy himself.

    This is tragic because great works of culture, whether paintings, poems, or cathedrals, are embodiments of a God-given urge for eternity, monuments to their maker’s existence, to their physical and emotional presence as image-bearers of God, and their ultimate identity in Christ. They can be a beautiful defiance of their mortality and a powerful intuition of grace, which is God’s final Word. Crouch writes in Culture Making, “All our culture making must be bound up in this prayer—that what we make of the world will last after the world itself has been rolled up like a scroll.” This is as true of the non-Christian as it is for the Christian. This is also why art often functions like a religion–it is an aesthetic means of justification.  But as a religion, it is based on law. And it can crush, even while it inexplicably produces work that sings the melody of grace.

    The “curious economics of contemporary art” that Thompson explores is the result of the internalization of insecurity and unsatisfied desire—that is, law. Modern and contemporary art becomes what Reformed pastor and author Tullian Tchividjian has called “self-salvation projects,” characterized by the efforts “to do more/try harder.” Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, art becomes a means by which we  ”make a name for ourselves” (Gen.11: 4).

    Although Tchividjian’s primary target is the confusion of law and gospel that distorts the two words by which God makes himself known to us, it offers significant secondary implications for modern and postmodern cultural analysis. Horton observes, “Although the goal of the law, according to Paul, is to silence the world before God, modernity is one long filibuster in which the sovereign self refuses to yield even to the Speaker of the House.” What are we to make of works of art produced by such a filibustering sovereign self, crushed by the law, kicking the goads, and for whom art is the only salvation, the only hope for eternal life? From this vantage point, there is much more at stake than simply the merits of the stuffed shark as a work of art and talking about “worldview.” In fact, most Christian worldview thinking operates as a legal scheme that cuts one off from experiencing the presence of grace in contemporary art and culture.

    Grace and Art

    But the mark of Cain is not only a curse but also a blessing. “Because of God’s common grace,” Horton observes, “no culture is entirely devoid of any sense of truth, justice, and beauty.” As Paul writes in Colossians, it is in Christ that “all things” hold together, even poems and paintings made by filibustering sovereign selves. Viewed through the lens of Christ, who says from the cross, “It is finished,” we can receive these works, like The Scream and the stuffed shark, wrought from fear and violence, as gospel and as grace, receive them as part of the liberating power that frees us to create and experience, to make and be shaped by culture, and be a faithful presence in a world in which Christ is working to make all things new, and in whom we have all we need.

    Referring to the implications of justification through the finished work of Christ, Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde asked, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?” This is a freedom that can come only from beyond the hills (Psalm 121), a freedom no artist can manufacture, only receive, and to which the artist can only respond.





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  • People in the Johnny Cash video “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”

    Wikipedia noted: Johnny Cash recorded a version of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” on American V: A Hundred Highways in 2003, with an arrangement quite different from most known gospel versions of the song. A music video, directed by Tony Kaye,[1] was made for this version in late 2006. It featured a number of celebrities, […]

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