Eternity is the next life. It is so real that I think God ingrained it in the cosmos and universe as a reflection of the eternal dimension. Why am I writing about eternity? Because eternity is mentioned in the film At Eternity’s Gate (2018) which is my film of the week. I try to get the most out of films when I watch them, so At Eternity’s Gate, as the title suggests, offered eternity as a theme, among a complexity of other themes and shades. Eternity is referenced in the film, twice if I remember rightly. Once, Van Gogh says he’s thinking about his relationship to eternity, and when someone asks him, what’s eternity, and Van Gogh replies it’s the next life. It’s a religious statement, but also a profound statement: “The next life”. I love that. The next life. Life that goes on and on. Beauty. Loveliness. Bliss. Forever Paradise. Van Gogh believed in beauty and saw it in nature and waited for it in the everlasting life. Everlasting or eternal life is the opposite of death for eternity. Eternal life or life for eternity all comes down to pure life: and life is positive.
In a brilliant film, Van Gogh, in At Eternity’s Gate (2018), says Jesus became known thirty years after his death. Before then Jesus was obscure, he says. I have a problem with this. The gospels says about Jesus is that he was well-known to the people during his lifetime, and known soon after his lifetime, as Jesus’ message and Spirit spread immediately after his death and resurrection. One of things that get overlooked at times, is that the gospel narratives and the story of the early church in Acts are reliable. It may sound like one of those disagreements Van Gogh and Gaugin had in this movie–but this is me, a viewer, disagreeing with what Van Gogh says. Sounds strange, but it’s the point of view here I’m pointing to that’s a problem, not the movie itself.
Image Journal, as well as proving helpful descriptions about the submission process (see previous post), also provided helpful descriptions of one’s relationship to faith in their submission guidelines.
All the work we publish reflects what we see as a sustained engagement with one of the western faiths—Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. That engagement can include unease, grappling, or ambivalence as well as orthodoxy…
Let me say first that they are an arts journal in which faith is involved in that. What they’re saying is an engagement with faith that is uneasy, or grappling, ambivalent, or orthodox. I find their distinctions helpful and true. One can be uneasy about faith, grapple with faith, be ambivalent, or be orthodox. And one can approach art from those perspectives. These distinctions opens one up to the question of where one stands. Which way? Is one uneasy about faith? Grapples with faith? Is ambivalent? or is orthodox? I think Image Journal don’t try to convert people to one way or another, but I think they are a journal and forum for discussion, thought and illumination about the arts and faith, although I’m not directly quoting their about page.
I put on a song called “Endless” that was released in 1994 and is sung by Eric Champion. It’s about God’s endless love. As I listened, I may not know a lot about God’s love, but I got to thinking about the godhead, that I believe God is three persons in one, and are bound together by love. But I have a question. Some of us believe that God is in heaven in there persons. The second person is God the Son, who was known as Jesus when he was on earth. So, I wondered what happened to the godhead, when the Son of God (or Jesus), the second person in the godhead, came to earth? In heaven, where there were three persons in the godhead, were there now only two? I suppose this is a common theological question for students and others. I think the common answer is that Jesus was always spiritually and divinely connected with God even when he was on earth. There was no disconnection. From his conception, Jesus was one with God. He had an unbroken relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the other two persons in the godhead. So, God was still God, there persons in one.
Do Christians go in and try and make converts first or listen and learn the languages and customs of cultures so they can relate the Christian message better to the culture? Or do Christians become assimilated by the culture they are trying to connect with? Mission and outreach is important to Christians. Some Christians may go right in with forthright proclamation of the Christian message and others will learn from the culture in order to better communicate the Christian message to the culture. Some Christians try to use the culture in order to reach the culture with the Christian message. The mission or Great Commission to go and make disciples, and learning the languages and customs of a culture, are both important considerations for Christians in their outreach, as are relationships with people who are not Christians. The Christian faith has always been one where mission and outreach is imperative. That’s because this faith teaches that without Jesus Christ, humanity has lost its connection to the Creator and is forever lost, but in recent times, the message has become increasingly layered, as churches try to reach an indifferent culture in more relevant ways and some have adapted their theology. Is the Christian faith and message still relevant to the cultures it is trying to reach? Many Christians believe Christianity teaches truths about reality and God, so the Christian faith still has a lot to offer.