Echoes of Eden

by Jerram Barrs

A review of Echoes of Eden might seem unnecessary when you consider two factors. First, it’s written by Jerram Barrs, founder of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Second, Tim Keller has identified the book as “the most accessible, readable, and theologically robust work on Christianity and the arts.”

 Jerram Barrs. Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. 208 pp. $17.99.

A review of Echoes of Eden might seem unnecessary when you consider two factors. First, it’s written by Jerram Barrs, founder of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Second, Tim Keller has identified the book as “the most accessible, readable, and theologically robust work on Christianity and the arts.” Given these two factors, I can find no reason to delay your visit to Amazon to purchase a copy. However, for those desiring a bit more discussion about this excellent work on the arts, I shall proceed.

As Barrs observes at the outset, “Thinking scripturally about the arts is an area where there appears to be great confusion in our churches.” Echoes of Eden enters into this confusion and attempts to enlighten the oft-bewildered minds of Christians engaging art. Barrs captured my attention with his contagious passion and scriptural wisdom on the subject. Indeed, one may sincerely deduce that much common confusion will be reduced now that Barrs has completed this work. He raises many popular concerns and objections and then logically carries us to biblically discerning answers.

I particularly appreciated the grace with which Barrs communicates. The arts, after all, often represent a significant source of frustration and disagreement. Barrs’s assertions and counterarguments don’t come across with arrogance or impatience, but rather with a spirit of love and care for his readers. Even his rebuke of certain Christians for their disdain of Harry Potter comes across with a certain pastoral care.

Barrs’s foundation for evaluating and defining great art lies in three key aspects. As he writes, “All great art will echo these three elements of Eden: (1) Eden in its original glory, (2) Eden that is lost to us, and (3) the promise that Eden be restored” (24). This nuanced approach to “creation, fall, redemption” begins with the assertion that all human beings are sub-creators. Creatures made in the image of the Master Artist will long to create.

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The e-book form of the book is currently on sale for $2.00 here.