About Theology & Arts

Memphis Theological Seminary’s Theology and Arts program assists students, faculty, and alumni as well as the wider community in integrating the exploration of the arts into all facets of Christian life and ministry.

We do this through five interlocking goals which directly support the overall mission of Memphis Theological Seminary which is devoted to scholarship, piety, and justice…


Christian Education
Cultivate a sense that creativity and artistic exploration are an extension of the incarnation.
Our faith becomes more real when we embody it materially through the arts. MTAP helps students understand the importance of creating congregational contexts of artistic creativity in the educational life of the church and assists students in developing educational programs that get lay people involved in artistic creation in their congregations. For example, pottery studios, faith and photography classes, icon painting classes, film/theatre discussion groups, etc.

Cultural Discernment
Explore an incarnational faith through the implicit religious questions or themes carried in art that is not explicitly religious in subject matter.
We develop habits in church leaders of viewing and appreciating art of all types. Students learn to interpret art both appreciatively and critically in order to fully engage with culture. Emphasis is not upon the ways in which art can be used for a Christian end, but upon engaging art as part of a cultural phenomenon. This cultural engagement and discernment reminds us that all of life falls under God’s sovereignty over the world beyond the institution of the Church.


Understand the relation between an incarnational faith and the long tradition of art that depicts religious subject matter.
Students are immersed in the three classical functions of art in our discipleship: teaching, reminding, and moving us. MTAP aids in educating students in art history and the ways in which religious art has evolved over time while providing understanding in the ways in which this history affects our faith today.

Engage in an incarnational faith by using our bodies and senses more fully in worship.
We express our faith through the incorporation of art into worship spaces and experiences. MTAP helps students think about art in the sanctuary – for example, banners, paraments, icons, adornments, etc. – as well as performance art within the worship experience – for example, liturgical dance, drama, spoken word poetry, etc.


Community Action
Imagine the multiple ways in which incarnational faith intersects the arts in relation to the moral life.
The community is encouraged to enter an imaginative universe to discover a new way of being human as an individual and within community. MTAP explores the liberating effects of music, theatre, visual arts, poetry, photography, etc. in opening us to a more just way of relating to all of God’s Creation.

"Scholarship, Piety, Justice" by Martha Kelly