Marc Dupont, April 4, 2008
Prophetic Creativity, in it’s many different mediums, has been close to the heart of Mantle of Praise Ministries since the ministry began. In short, prophetic creativity is art and creative expression that essentially does two things. One, it speaks of something else, especially something greater- such as the reality of the person of God, eternal truths, or the purposes of God. It speaks into both the now and the emerging of eternity. Secondly, prophetic creativity due to the freshness, the excellence, and quite possibly the mystery of the creativity draws the viewer, or listener, in to the examination of its sublime and oft hidden message. In a real sense, prophetic creativity is much like healings and miracles when they become a sign and wonder. Because prophetic creativity speaks of a future relationship, or a future thing to come, as opposed to a static truth, it tends to be alive, anointed, and/or prophetic.
In keeping with the fact that almost all of God’s prophetic communication is done through parable, dreams, and visions prophetic creativity almost always is symbolic, metaphoric, and/or parabolic. Due to the fact that for many generations the western world church almost abandoned the expression of creativity except for primarily utilitarian purposes the church is just now beginning to move past oversimplified songs, paintings, and creativity. When the prophet Amos stated that God often spoke through parables, or stories, to and through the prophets he was recognizing two important truths. One, there is that aspect to God being a lover that He wants to be pursued and not simply understood in a linear way. Paul, being very much a classic Hebrew, was immersed in the Hebrew way of thinking. In addressing the church of Corinth he warned them of seeking after wisdom in the way of the Greeks, or Gentiles, who were simply after logical, conceptual truth. While studying theology at seminary I received a very interesting and puzzling remark on one of my papers from a well-known professor of systematic theology. Although he gave me an “A” for the paper he wrote: “Sooner, or later, I hope you realize the Holy Spirit is as much like Shakespeare as a court reporter in inspiring the scriptures.” He was recognizing that my sole approach to the Bible was one of attempting to learn right from wrong, truth from fallacy. I was failing to appreciate that the Bible, being the Word of God was so fully alive in every aspect, including artistically.
Secondly, parables, or “damah” in the Hebrew, always combine two essential ingredients- the known and the unknown which when combined result in change, or transcendence, much like a catalytic converter brings change to the fuel which flows through it. Thomas Hohstadt, writes that ‘Scriptural Damah demands three dynamics: the “known,” the “unknown,” and the “transcendent.” Without all three, God is not in it.’ In placing as huge an emphasis on systematic theology as the evangelical church has in recent history without really regarding the counter balance of Spirit filled prayer, worship, and waiting on God there has been, to a degree, a dumbing down of the church when it comes to the expression of the amazing Person of God, His truths, and His Kingdom.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples why He did not speak more clearly to the people instead of parabolicly He quoted the prophet Isaiah who said, concerning God’s people: they ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6.9-10 Jesus added that the people of His day worshipped God through ritual and rote. The eyes and ears of their hearts needed to be provoked in order to wake them up to the reality of God being bigger and beyond their programs and logical perspectives. Even the logo, or artwork, that we use for Mantle of Praise Ministries is often a bit of a litmus test to some. It was created by a painter and graphic artist who was a friend of Marc’s, in the early ‘80s. It is a bit of calligraphy that could look like an angels wing to one, or a flame to another, while to some one else it may come across as simply some squiggly lines and dots.
There are very few conferences we do that we do not usually, as some point, pray for the artists, worship people, musicians, writers, painters, dancers, etc. When we invite the creative people to come forward we try to limit it to those who take their gifting seriously and are committed to working with those gifts and developing them much like the two of the three stewards in Jesus’ parable of the stewards and the talents found in the book of the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. As the same time we recognize that God gives creative gifting to everyone in some form, or another. The question is who are those people that have a passion to develop that gifting.
Marc, over the years, has been given a huge number of art pieces, especially paintings and drawings. Some of the artwork is incredible while some would seem to only have value in the eyes of the one who drew, or painted those pictures. Even with those pictures, however, that do not appear to have been drawn, or painted, well, we feel it is a privilege to partake of what may have spoken so powerfully and wonderfully in the imagination and spirit of the creator of the work. Truly those who are just emerging with the gift of creativity, as with any gift from God, should never despise the day of small beginnings! We hope every four to five months to put on display a different set of artwork, which has been given, or loaned, to us.
If you are interested more in the whole process of flowing in God prophetic and creative gifting you might consider taking in one of our Tabernacle of David schools where we examine and encourage the gifts of creativity, prophecy, and worship.