The Artisan Soul…A Journey in the Tension between Gods Sovereignty and our Imagination.

Recently I was able to sit in on a gathering of youth leaders doing ministry in north LA County and Erwin McManus was the invited guest to share about his new book, the Artisan Soul.  He shared his story and some challenges he has experienced in church leadership but more than all that he shared a tension that resonated with me….without using these exact words, he challenged us to wrestle with the cognitive dissonance between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility…and the cause is a stifled creativity.

Click Erwin McManus to listen to his discussion.  It gets good at about the 15 minute mark.

The Tension of Gods Sovereignty.

He never uses these words but he pushes us to see the disconnect between our Christian language that is often deterministic and passive compared to a mathematic atheist who uses similar language but what they call science we call providence.

Passive and deterministic language of Christians usually sound like, “Is wasn’t me it was all God”.  He asserts that if it was all God it probably would have worked out even better.

Stifled Creativity.

The premise of his entire talk was based on the truth or falsity of the statement of Solomon there is nothing new under the sun.  In Ecclesiastes 1:9, when Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun is he literally saying NOTHING WILL EVER BE CREATED AGAIN or is it a statement that shows our daily creation and imagination is a subsidiary of something of much greater importance.

Creativity is a great thing that needs to exist more in the church.  We are bound by the box that we grew up with and cannot cannot conceive of something great than the methodology that we have grown to know.  When that box is challenged we can often respond with defensiveness and frustration.  Instead we should respond by recognizing the God of the universe who displays himself in limitless ways is not bound by the box we have historically recognized as the method to display that greatness.

In all this I agree with Erwin but when he says that WE need a new anthropology  it seems that even he stops short of the ultimate purpose of creativity.  The human imagine is on loan from God to us.  It seems the end has become creativity and it seems to be lacking.

Creativity Towards what End?

Erwin states that Solomon is wrong in saying that there is nothing is new under the sun and because the Church has bought into that idea, we need to spark the human existence towards a creative existence.  That if we all found what our purpose was we would be more creative.  If we strived for what we excelled at and found deepest joy in our lives would burst with creativity.

It seems to me that creativity is a tactic unto itself.  The goal isn’t to be more creative…rather if we work back from the infinite God we naturally become more creative in expressing him.  To the degree that you are familiar or knowable of something….you are naturally more able to express your understanding in various ways.  Rather than launch a creative awakening it would seem that creativity would be a derivative of a deeper faith.


If you mean that Solomon had no clue about the existence of rockets and laptops then yes…he was incorrect in his statement, but if you see his statement reflected below…it stays true and continues to point us to God.

  • Men all pursue happiness. That isn’t new.
  • We are constantly trying to find happiness away from God.  Welcome to the human existence.
  • God desires us to find him satisfying above anything this life has to offer.  A picture of true faith.
  • A transformed Life follows from a deeper desire to know and enjoy God.  Creativity is part of a transformed life…along with patience, joy, love, kindness….the list goes on.

Rather than focus on creativity, we focus on the creator and can use creativity as another tool in assessing our faith because it should be a natural product of a transformed life.


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