What is Art?

what is art?.png


    What is art? Well, according to the dictionary, there are several definitions, including, but not limited to: painting, sculpting, literature, dance, singing, or anything created to elicit a feeling of beauty or other emotional response. These definitions are a helpful start to understanding what art is, but it leaves much to be desired. What is beautiful? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? If something elicits any emotion at all, does that make it art? Is there a standard for art, or is anything a person can produce considered art?

    In a postmodern age, we tend to dissolve standards and push pre-existing boundaries to the point where there is no evaluative standard for beauty. Of course, it is not entirely detrimental, as standards for art in the past were so strict that only the likes of Michelangelo could produce art, so to the benefit of society, anyone can show their God-given creativity. As believers, our standards should continually align with God’s standards, however different from culture there may be. In Scripture, when we see God as Creator of everything He called “good,” everything He created was intricate, purposeful, and ultimately, declared His glory. So the question remains, can anything be considered art? For example, in New York, a portrait of the Virgin Mary was displayed in a museum. The problem? It was covered with elephant dung. Is that still beautiful? Is that still art?

    Well, to answer this question, we have to remember that we are free, free to create whatever we want. But what we do with that freedom is critical. In his “Letter to a Christian Artist” H.R. Rookmaaker says of creative freedom “Freedom is positive, it means being free from tradition, free from the feeling that everything has to be original from certain fixed rules said to be necessary in art-- but also from the thought that to be creative you must break all kinds of rules and standards.” We are all given creativity by our Maker, and we have a responsibility to use it to bring glory to God, and we only have to look at His creation to determine what God’s standards regarding beauty are. So let us not get overwhelmed with the thought that we must break all the rules to be creative. As the famous essayist T.S. Elliot says “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost and will produce the richest ideas. When given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”


When Christmas is Hard

When Christmas is Hard.jpg


By Ashley Sharp


For most, the Christmas season is the most magical time of the year and their hearts are filled with joy and laughter, but what if it isn’t? Maybe you’re looking around at the rest of the world wishing you could feel the same way, but you just can’t seem to do it. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, maybe you don’t have the finances to give gifts to the people you love, maybe you have to be separated from someone you love when it seems that everyone else gets to be with their families and friends. Or maybe you suffer from depression, and wish that you could experience joy from a holiday that used to be delightful.  

Well, to anyone who struggles with any of those things or any others, first and foremost, you need to know that you are not alone. You may feel like the only person who secretly wants Christmas to end quickly. But Christmas is a difficult time for many people, for many reasons, so there is nothing abnormal or strange about feeling that way, there should never be shame in feeling sadness. Secondly, you do not have to find your joy in a season, in decorations, in festive songs, because for believers, our joy is planted firmly in the Lord. The so-called “joy of Christmas” culturally speaking is temporary and often shallow. But the Lord offers us a joy that is not contingent on our circumstances. And it is this joy that can allow you not only to survive the Christmas season, but thrive, and celebrate during Christmas because it is the time in which we remember that God Himself entered our world in order to save a dying world from its sin. God desires for us to have joy, even in the most difficult times. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The joy of the Lord sustains believers through periods of unhappiness and gives them hope that comes only from being with Jesus.

If this season is a hard time for you, may I urge you not to isolate yourself, but rather surround yourself with people who will listen to and support you through a dark time. We were created for community, and one of the surest ways to sink deeper into sadness is to continue believing that you are all alone. Find a few trusted people to be honest with about your struggles, and allow them to speak wisdom, love, and truth into your life. And who knows, you may be surprised to find people in your life that struggle with the same things you are, or have come through it and can offer wisdom that other people couldn’t.

In this difficult season, it will be easy to drown in your own thoughts and emotions, so it is the perfect time to serve others. We can find so much joy in stepping outside of ourselves and using our time and energy to bring joy to others. So consider volunteering at your church, a local charity, visit a nursing home or hospital. Showing the love of Jesus to others allows us to experience the joy of serving the Lord in participating in His kingdom, and also helps us to remember all of the blessings that we too often take for granted.

My friend, if you are struggling through this Christmas season, know that it is ok. You are not expected to stop feeling sadness, or put on a brave face for those around you, happiness is not required of you. But may I exhort you to cling to the hope and joy that can be found in Jesus Christ. He is more than able to sustain you through this season of life, to heal whatever wounds you may be carrying, and who knows, maybe next Christmas won’t be so hard.

Naughty and Nice List 2017



HoHoHo, tis’ the season of love, joy, compassion and consumerism and we were going to write you a heartfelt piece about humanitarian efforts across the Middle East. However, in the spirit of the season we abandoned that story in favor of a more sensational one.  Just last week we were digging through the metaphorical garbage bin of the internet and discovered that one of Santa’s less responsible elves let some names from the ‘Big List’ leak.  So now while he’s in “Giving Information Frequently Training” (G.I.F.T), we’re bringing you the juiciest and most surprising Naughty and Nice professors of Bryan College. Without any further giftwrap or fruitcake, here it is:

The Naughty and Nice of Bryan’s Professors


Mr. Michael Palmer

         NAUGHTY: Palmer was on the Nice List for pushing all his midterms back to Christmas but was relocated for a consistent lack of posted grades, not to mention constantly sending in his Wish List to Santa in January.


Dr. Clark Rose

         NAUGHTY: Dr. Rose earned his spot on the Naughty List due to the sheer number of people who self-diagnose themselves with mental disorders in his lower division psych classes.  Upper division psych classes were excluded from consideration, since that is arguably a mental disorder on its own.  


Dr. Jud Davis

         NICE: Dr. Davis is notable for ranking highly on the Nice List for the last 40 years, almost as if he was predestined to be there. Year after year he has also convinced students at Bryan that they too are on a universal, immutable “nice list.”


Dr. Ricketts

         NAUGHTY: Rickets has been a long time Naughty Lister for contributing to insomnia for the majority of his students.  We’ve also been tracking a campus wide irrational fear of links that we believe is attributable to him.


Dr. Paul Boling

         NAUGHTY: Dr. Boling was a difficult choice.  The strong positive points gained by his dashing sense of style were outweighed by his bad habit of terrifying the virgin ears of freshmen by swearing in class.


Dr. Vaughn Cardona

NICE: conducted himself well this year


Mr. Tim Baldi

NAUGHTY: His jokes were Sno good.


Dr. Samuel Youngs

         NICE NAUGHTY NICE  NAUGHTY NICE: Due to a consistent lack of disclosure of his philosophical positions in class, it is hard to place Dr. Youngs on either the naughty or nice list.  However, he has achieved nice status this year by saving record numbers of students from falling into darn-nable heresies.  Also notable for being the only Anglican on the American nice list.


Dr. Whit Jones

NAUGHTY: Whit Jones, for the most part, has had exemplary behavior this year.  He ended up on the Naughty List for ripping off Santa Claus’ style. On a more minor note, he is also occasionally guilty of appropriating Cajun culture.


Dr. Schultz

         NAUGHTY: Schultz’ misadvertised freshman level courses force students to play her reindeer games where Students report feeling trapped in a metaphorical siege of Constantinople sending their grades “down in history”



Continuing the Conversation: Big Questions About Sexuality and Singleness


By Ashley Sharp

Today, it seems that when it comes to issues of homosexuality and singleness, the Church has more questions than answers, and often we don’t know where to go to find them. That’s why the Worldview Initiative hosted Dr. Christopher Yuan, an author who has written about his struggle with homosexuality and becoming a follower of Christ, to answer some of the burning questions that the population of Bryan College had. Because of time, Dr. Yuan didn’t get to answer all our questions, but I will attempt to answer just a few of the questions that the Church needs answered if they are to engage properly those inside her walls and in the greater culture.

Question 1: How do we address homosexuality in the Church? /Why do Christians Tend to view homosexuality as worse than heterosexual sin?

The question of how the Church should handle questions of homosexuality is in the back of every Christian’s mind, as we desire to love people unconditionally, but not bend on biblical teaching about homosexuality. Kevin DeYoung, writer for The Gospel Coalition, lists “The Ten Commitments” that every Christian should make before engaging with people inside and outside of the Church on the topic of homosexuality:

1. We will preach through the Bible consecutively and expositionally that we might teach the whole counsel of God (even the unpopular parts) and to avoid riding hobby horses (even popular ones).

2. We will tell the truth about all sins, including homosexuality, but especially the sins most prevalent in our communities.

3. We will guard the truth of God’s word, protect God’s people from error, and confront the world when it tries to press us into its mold.

4. We will call all people to faith in Christ as the only way to the Father and the only way to have eternal life.

5. We will tell all people about the good news of the gospel, that Jesus died in our place and rose again so that we might be set free from the curse of the law and be saved from the wrath of God.

6. We will treat all Christians as new creations in Christ, reminding each other that our true identity is not based on sexuality or self-expression but on our union with Christ.

7. We will extend God’s forgiveness to all those who come in brokenhearted repentance, everyone from homosexual sinners to heterosexual sinners, from the proud to the greedy, from the people pleaser to the self-righteous

8. We will ask for forgiveness when we are rude, thoughtless, or joke inappropriately about homosexuals.

9. We will strive to be a community that welcomes all those who hate their sin and struggle against it, even when that struggle involves failures and setbacks.

10. We will seek to love all  in our midst, regardless of their particular vices or virtues, by preaching the Bible, recognizing evidences of God’s grace, pointing out behaviors that dishonor the Lord, taking church membership seriously, exercising church discipline, announcing the free offer of the gospel, striving for holiness together, and exulting in Christ above all things.

As is evidenced here, the Church’s approach to homosexuality is multifaceted, and takes time and willingness on behalf of believers. Every confrontation and every conversation must be done in love as we always remember how we are all sinners saved by God’s grace.

With regard to the second half of this question, why do people consider homosexuality worse than other sin, Stoyan Zaimov, a writer for The Christian Post, interviewed John Piper in regard to this very question. When asked if homosexuality is worse than other sins, Piper answers that homosexuality is no more deadly than any other sin, and is certainly not more widespread than sins of anger, selfishness, greed, pride, etc., they are just easier to hide, and therefore don’t get as much attention. So Zaimov asked the obvious question, why do people seem to think homosexuality is worse than other sin? Piper says that the answer is threefold: First, Piper says that it isn’t Christians who put homosexuality in the headlines. The media has made homosexuality  a hot topic and "Christians are drawn to explain our position in public through preaching and writing as often as we do these days because the media have made the issue so public that we feel we need to serve Christians with careful, biblical answers, and we need to clarify for non-Christians how we think." Second, homosexuality, more than probably any other sinful behavior, has powerful and outspoken people who advocate and dissent on issues of “gay rights” which draws a great amount of attention and scrutiny from all sides. Piper’s final reason is that homosexuality goes against nature, and that’s why it has earned an "unusual status in our moral discourse." In other words, it wouldn’t be hard for us to believe that someone is prideful or angry, but when we see a man attracted to another man and vice versa, it’s unnatural, not the way things are supposed to be, so we give more attention to it and  are quick to condemn that sin more than others. Piper makes the clarification that although homosexuality is not more deadly than another, sin itself leads to death, and in no way should ever be minimized. He ends with this hope: "We all need the same Savior, and the blood of Christ is sufficient to wash away every sin and remove all judgment and bring us to everlasting healing and joy."

Question 2: How, as a married couple, can we help the Church celebrate singleness? /What do you think about Genesis 2:18? How is it good if God says it is “not good?”

In regard to the first half of the question, writer for The Gospel Coalition, Jennifer Grisham, wrote an article entitled “5 Things Singles Wish Married People Knew,” which contains wise practical advice for married people who have a desire to reach out to their single friends in a healthy way. Grisham’s first point is that married people should deliberately welcome single people into their families, based on Psalm 68:6, which says “God settles the solitary in a home.” Married couples should invite their single friends to eat with their families, and attend special events with them. Single people often feel like outsiders, and many of them long for their own families, and their married friends can help provide that. Grisham’s second point is that while marriage is sanctifying, singleness is as well. She says “Marriage paints a picture of Christ’s love for the church; singleness paints a picture of Christ’s sufficiency and the joy of a life that accepts the Father’s will, as Jesus did when he prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).” Therefore, singles are not “lagging behind” in their spiritual growth because marriage is somehow the ultimate tool for sanctification, but they are simply being sanctified by the same God in a different way. Her third point is that married people can help singles remember that they are defined by the blood of Christ, not their marital status. Whenever we feel that we don’t fit in, our response is typically to overcompensate for the real or perceived differences, which can be a very dangerous road. Single people need to know that they are not societal outliers that need to conform, a.k.a be married or in a relationship, in order to be considered part of a community, in this case the Church. The Church should celebrate our unity in Christ rather than emphasizing these differences that divide. Her fourth point is that the Church needs to recognize how much single people are lied to, inside and outside her walls. Our culture of self-indulgence and “freedom” tells single people that if they are not busily pursuing sexual intimacy, or constantly looking for a relationship, they are not living their best lives, and should adjust accordingly. Christian culture loves to tell us that “if we’re content enough, or if we stop looking for a spouse, then God will finally pull back the curtain to reveal the spouse he’s handcrafted for you. (Seriously, people say things like this.)” Both these perspectives are harmful, because one assumes that if we are not relentlessly pursuing fulfillment and intimacy then we are wasting our lives, and the other asserts something that is unbiblical, and uses contentment in God as a means to an end. Grisham says is best when she concludes “Offering suggestions about why God hasn’t given marriage is empty, but resting in him brings fullness and joy (Ps. 16:11).” Grisham’s fifth and final point is for married couples to not expect their single friends to get married. Almost every single person has a God-given desire for marriage. But sometimes, God chooses not to fulfill that desire, and married people should recognize that and not push their single friends toward marriage, or act like it will definitely happen. Married people can be a wonderful instrument of God’s love to the single person, and it isn’t an insurmountable undertaking, and following these pieces of advice will certainly help.

As for the second half of the question, we must keep in mind that Genesis 2:18 says “It is not good that man should be alone.” Writer for The Gospel Coalition Drew Hunter says this when commenting on Adam’s loneliness “While marriage was the immediate answer for Adam’s solitude, the story of Scripture shows friendship and the family of God are also his provision. Not everyone needs marriage, but everyone needs friendship. The single man is not to be a lonely man. Friendship is an often underappreciated necessity of life.” Singleness is not equivalent to loneliness, and the Bible even speaks of singleness as a gift. In 1 Cor. 7, and Matthew 19:11, singleness is described as “a gift for those to whom it is given.” Singleness is certainly a difficult road to walk, but those who are single can take courage and find rest in the fact that God loves them and knows their desires, and that we will be part of a heavenly marriage one day, single in this life or not, that will fulfill every longing of our hearts.

Confederate Statues: A Christian Response

Confederate statues.jpg


 By Michael Jones

After the 2015 shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina legislature voted to take down the Confederate flag from its Capitol building. This came from popular belief that the Confederate flag represented discrimination toward African Americans, bolstered by photographs of Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of the shooting, waving the flag.

Nowadays, we're removing statues instead of flags. Why? Because many Americans believe statues of Confederate generals represent the South's fight to preserve slavery. Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, recently spoke in defense of the removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and other confederate generals in New Orleans, commenting:

We must always remember our history and learn from it. But that doesn’t mean we must valorize the ugliest chapters, as we do when we put the Confederacy on a pedestal — literally — in our most prominent public places. [...] If we don’t want to be forever held back by our crushing history of institutional racism, it’s time to relegate these monuments to their proper place. (The Washington Post)

People in both minority and majority demographics side with Mayor Landrieu, seeing the statues as obstacles to racial equality.


To other Americans, the Confederate statues represent the heritage of the South and pride in Southern culture, as well as the Confederacy that fought for economic freedom along with slavery. Sophia A. Nelson, a black journalist and political commentator who believes the statues should not be taken down, writes, “we […] cannot tell people they are not allowed to honor family members who fought for the confederacy or that their forbears could not raise monuments to southern heroes like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson” (Think).


Each side fights to preserve its sense of justice. Mayor Landrieu, in his speech, reiterates his point that the “right course, then, is to excise these symbols of injustice” (The Washington Post). On the other hand, Sophia Nelson and others would argue that we “do not learn when we run from our wrongs. We learn when we face them. Keep the statues where they are so that people can explain history to their kids” (Think). Everyone has a stance on this issue, so which one is right?

Neither stance is "right". Each side desires justice, a justice for their past, for their ancestry and posterity. As Christians, we want reconciling truth. We're called to "love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with [our] God" (Micah 6:8). Echoing Mayor Landrieu, we want to be sensitive to our American past, and remember the mistakes each side has made. We must walk humbly in our pursuit of justice if this country is to ever be reconciled.

We can find virtue in either stance.  If we remove the statues that remind us of where we were, we open ourselves to forgetting lessons of the past. If we forget our past segregation, we open ourselves to future segregation, as Sophia Nelson expresses: “I don’t fear 150-year-old statues of old dead white men. What I fear is the hatred we are seeing in real time in 2017 on social media, on our college campuses, in our workplaces and in our political rhetoric” (Think).


Just as well, when we hang a flag from our houses, schools, capital buildings, or the beds of our trucks, we understand that we are pledging allegiance to what that flag represents. People will see this confederate flag, and they'll interpret that we side with slave-owners and those who oppress (or at least fear and avoid) African American culture, whether we intended to express this or not. Mayor Landrieu assumes this position when he speaks for the southern State of Louisiana: “As mayor, I must consider [the statues’] impact on our entire city. It’s my job to chart the course ahead, not simply to venerate the past” (Washington Post).


To those who uphold Southern identity, God doesn't call us to claim cultural or national identity; He does call us to live peaceably with all men, inasmuch as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). Jesus gives me the privilege and command not to stand up for the South, but for His Kingdom. I still relate with my world-given identity as a Southerner, as Paul related with his Jewish and Roman cultural identities. However, this fleeting world is not my home. Why, then, would I stake my core identity on the nation that supports me, when God upholds that nation and gives me an identity with an unfading kingdom?

We think so often that our culture defines who we are; Howard Winant, a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, states in his book Racial Conditions: Politics, Theory, Comparisons, “U.S. society is so thoroughly racialized that to be without racial identity is to be in danger of having no identity” (Winant, 16). Our culture (whether white or black, northern or southern) does not define us as Christians; we are foremost children of God. We must fight for the church to ground its identity in Christ, and to see that true justice was served on Christ at the cross, when He bore the wrath for all the sins His people would commit.


With tensions rising on each side, we must remember above all that fear-based responses are normal among sinners (and that’s every one of us). The people who are unlike us fear as much as we do; the simplest thing we can do to bridge racial and socioeconomic divides is to befriend people different from ourselves. Opening our doors to different people for meals and conversation builds bridges one person at a time, and these bridges stack up like pennies in a jar. In turn, empathizing with other cultures shapes how we see the world, whether we decide to take down statues or leave them to stand, cold and motionless. When Jesus invites anyone to the wedding feast who will come, He leaves us a standard of hospitality and outreach which we would do well to follow.




Landrieu, Mitch. “New Orleans Mayor: Why I’m Taking Down my City’s Confederate

Monuments.” The Washington Post, 11 May 2017, https://www.washingtonpost

.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/11/new-orleans-mayor-why-im-taking-down-my-citys-confederate-monuments/?utm_term=.1414ef95be4b. Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.


Nelson, Sophia A. “Opinion: Don’t Take Down Confederate Monuments. Here’s Why.”

NBC News, 1 June 2017, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/news/opinion-why-i-feel-

confederate-monuments-should-stay-ncna767221. Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.


Winant, Howard. Racial Conditions: Politics, Theory, Comparisons. Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota Press, 1994.


What is the Nashville Statement and Why Does it Matter?

On August 29, 2017, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a statement affirming a conservative evangelical view of gender and sexuality. It has been endorsed by a wide variety of evangelical leaders. Containing a preamble and fourteen articles, the Nashville Statement is labeled as a Christian manifesto on human sexuality.  The statement asserts that marriage is  defined as a union between one man and one woman and that sexual intimacy should only pursued within this context. The statement addresses the issue of transgenderism by asserting that, “the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.” The statement clearly expresses that regardless of sexual desire or genital abnormalities, those desiring to follow Christ and submit to His scriptural mandates regarding gender are capable of living a fruitful life pleasing to God.

Although this statement does not make any explicitly unbiblical claims, there was significant media coverage and backlash. This is no doubt in part due to those who signed this statement. Notable signees are as follows: John Piper, Christopher Yuan, Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Rosaria Butterfield, along with many other well-known professors and theologians.

The House for All Sinners and Saints in Colorado responded with their own treatise they call the Denver Statement. Mirroring the structure of the Nashville Statement, it denies that God restricts marriage and gender identity to cis-gendered, heterosexual definitions. Variety in gender and sexual expression are not a result of the Fall but are rather a component of human flourishing. They affirm that same sex attractions are part of God’s original intent for creation and that gender is not bound to biological sex characteristics.

Most conservative evangelicals agree that the Nashville Statement does not present any new information regarding the intersection of Christianity and sexuality. However, the content is not the only element of the Nashville Statement that is to be considered. Some have criticized the statement for being contradictory to Jesus’ command to love. Nashville's mayor Megan Barry tweeted that “[the] so-called ‘Nashville Statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.” Though the statement does not reflect the views of Nashville it large, historic Christian documents have always adopted the names of the cities in which they were adopted. Additionally, taking a stand for something as true is not un-loving. Jesus never stopped loving people but was often condemned for taking “unpopular” positions. The Nashville statement stands on strong biblical grounds and was communicated graciously with hope for all people.



What is a gay man’s role in the church?

Christopher Yuan, speaker, author, and Bible teacher, is a man who’s journey has taken
him from academia’s best and brightest to prison and eventually into the arms of Jesus.

His parents were first-generation immigrants from China who raised him with traditional Chinese
values. He abandoned them after he was suspended from his university, a mere three months
away from receiving his doctorate, for drug possession and distribution. This, however, did not
stop him from continuing in his preferred lifestyle. Yuan sold drugs on a mass scale and spent
his free time in clubs hooking up with men and getting high. When he was eventually caught
possessing the street equivalent of nine tons of marijuana in his apartment, he was sent to
prison. While there he discovered he was HIV positive and at the lowest point in his life found a
bible in the trash which changed him forever. He became a believer and follower of Christ.

Now he tours the world, along with his mother, sharing his story with whoever will listen.
He advocates for the gospel’s call to all people to be holy, and for what this holiness looks like
on all fronts. He is particularly vocal about the topics of “sexuality, singleness, addictions, HIV
and the gospel,” because of where he has been on his life’s journey.

He has recently signed—and vocally supports—the Nashville Statement; given his
struggles with same-sex attraction, his story offers a unique perspective on the issue. He signed
it “for the sake of gospel clarity among evangelicals;” he believes the document is an accurate
assessment of the biblical position on issues of gender and sexuality. He affirms that God loves
people with gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction and his grace covers all stripes, but he
does not approve of all actions. There has been some significant bite-back against the
statement itself but Yuan welcomes questions and interaction from all sides. He believes that
remaining firm in biblical truth is crucial and that it must be communicated with love to all
people, particularly to those who have similar struggles to his own. He has found his role in the
church to be the same as everyone else’s: to spread, with love, the saving truth of Jesus Christ
to the world.

Spiritual Gifts: Diversity and Unity

Spiritual Gifts: Diversity and Unity

The fact that God can and does use us in many different capacities doesn’t mean that our talents and abilities are meaningless. Instead, the beauty of diversity is that our differences unite us: unite us because where I am weak in a certain talent, my fellow member is strong. Where I am strong, my fellow member may be weak. That’s the beauty of it. We can help support each other.