From the Enlightenment onwards, religion and the religious world have often been treated with suspicion and viewed by the elite as unnecessary for cultural life. In theology, the printed word began to dominate imagination, drama, myth, pictures and storytelling. The separation of the arts from life remains a phenomenon of modernity. Whether the arts have been presented as symbolic, didactic, devotional or decorative in nature or merely as consumables, they are a powerful means of communication.
Paul Tillich (1896-1965), known as the theologian of culture, has helped shape and focus the dialogue on religion and arts. Tillich believed that all art, not just religious art, was a source of revelation: He believed in “artistic honesty” stating “We can participate in the artistic styles of the past in so far as they were honestly expressing the encounter which they had with God, man (sic), and the world” (Tillich, 1959, p. 48). Study of the arts can supplement purely conceptual approaches to the history of Christian thought and show how religious imagination was formed in the minds of the faithful.