One of our aims at The Doxology Project is to provide helpful articles that aid in shaping a holistic and biblical worldview. We desire to help people see everything in the world as theological (making statements about God). Every slogan, from Burger King’s “have it your way” campaign, to Nike’s iconic “Just Do it” tagline, and every created product from the iPhone to the Droid makes promises of what it will take to apprehend the good life. This is why we, TDP, take creativity and innovation seriously. All human output is a doxological response to what we worship. What we worship as supreme, valuable and good will ultimately come out in how we live. Therefore, every product, idea, venture or act of deed or ingenuity provides profound insight into a personn’s worldview. Everything in all of creation is an attempt to make known one’s belief about what true reality looks like. Everything that comes out of or into our mouths, sight, hearing, touch, or smell ultimately shapes and forms us, and is formed by us into what we’d like to call our preferred future. We have an insatiable need to reach for things and innovate things that affirm our beliefs and give us what we want.
The human heart is created to worship and is created to join in the mission of the cosmos, and if we don’t find our satisfaction in God, we’ll create false gods that will lead us astray to false hope. At The Doxology Project, we believe that good things, created things, can become gods to us, if we use them inappropriately, but they can help us to worship the one true God if we use them rightly. TDP believes that created things are not to be worshipped in and of themselves, but created things are like a reflection in a crystal pond or a translucent mirror; the image pointing not to itself, but to far greater truths and realities that are only realized in the source.
Due to this belief, we will feature a regular article in a series called Transpose. These tidbits will help us to see that all creativity and innovation, both in creature and cosmos, points to a the rich delight of God Himself!!! The idea of transposition comes from the great Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis. This way of perceiving the world came to him one day when he came upon a toolshed in the woods. He describes the occurrence;
“I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” ¹
C.S. realized that everything in all of creation is but a shadow. It can only offer a taste of the real thing that it points to. In The Weight of Glory he says, “The suns and lamps in pictures seem to shine only because real suns or lamps using on them; that is, they seem to shine a heat deal because they really shine a little in reflecting their archetypes.” ² What this implies is that everything in creation—trees, rivers, mountains, animals, and even human beings themselves—are reflections of something greater. The created world is not to be looked at in order to define and find reality, but it is to be looked along.
John Piper says, “So we can say that when we ‘look along’ the heavens and not just ‘at’ the heavens, they succeed in their aim of ‘declaring the glory of God.’ That is, we see the glory of God, not just the glory of the heavens. We don’t just stand outside and analyze the natural world as a beam, but we let the beam fall on the eyes of our heart, so that we see the source of the beauty—the original Beauty, God himself. This is the essential key to unlocking the proper use of the physical world of sensation for spiritual purposes. All of God’s creation becomes a beam to be ‘looked along’ or a sound to be ‘heard along’ or a fragrance to be ‘smelled along’ or a flavor to be ‘tasted along’ or a touch to be ‘felt along.” ³
All of creation becomes our oyster for creativity and theological inquiry. Whether we are staring at a mountain that was forged by God, or a new piece of Google glass formed by man, we can look along these created items to uncover what that thing teaches us. Sadly, many human creations depict the wrong image of god, and this is why The Doxology Project is passionate about Christians thinking deeply about all they lay their hands to—be it a lump of clay, a podium, an easel, a sound console, a business plan, a surgical table, or the pen.
Join with us in the coming years as we take a look at beautiful created things in an effort to help us worship more fully the God to whom they point.
Nikki Mckenzie: In this picture I see a set of three – water, trees, rock – unified to make one image, one part of creation, each with separate roles that are both dependent and independent of each other, yet they intertwine harmoniously in communion, supply, fellowship, dignity, value and worth.
Rocks—can go two ways.
- God is our rock, fortress, and stronghold and no human can really tamper with this fact.
- Sin, the opposing opposite of God, pretends to be equally as heavy and influential upon us, but though its weight is real and tempting, its power is benign in view of God’s mercy. It is gray in color, preventing us from fully obeying and worshiping as we ought. However the gray of the rocks makes the green of the trees and the blue of the water all the more vibrant, which is part of seeing the beauty of Christ is seeing the ugliness of sin. Also, the water, over time, washes away the rock, and Christ washes us in our sin, refining and purifying us—making us smooth.
Water: …is life giving, peaceful, cleansing, nurturing, and refreshing. Without the water, the trees would be dead, there would be no animals, and the life cycle would end.
- Peace Like A River – I don’t know how to explain how peaceful a river is except for someone to go experience. It’s rejuvenating. The still water (which isn’t really still, it’s just that it’s movement isn’t visible to us) shows how God is continually working “below the surface.”
- Rushing Water: God is moving in visible ways, moving us forward in different directions, ways that are uncomfortable and scary and transforming. At that same time water washes over us and we are cleansed people who continually need to have our feet washed.
Trees: …the trees help provide oxygen (if my memory from biology is correct), oxygen is essential for life. There is no real life for those who are outside of Christ. Trees are also a kind of inverted way to measure depth, maturity, fruitfulness, and health.
¹ C.S. Lewis, “Meditations in a Toolshed,” in God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 212.
² C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory, pg. 82
³ John Piper, Alive to Wonder; Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis (Minneapolis: Desiring God, 2013), 40.