Are we free to be as creative as we want?
In response to Phil Robinson’s article, How would your child draw Noah’s Ark?, David C. expressed his opinion that the suggested drawing exercise would actually stifle children’s imaginations.
Kids need a lot of time for unstructured, child-directed, imaginative play. Creativity is a God-given right and to force render a “you must replicate the ark as everybody else in the lesson … Please follow this blue print …” is drawing the sap from children’s essential component of imagination. One needs to have a lot more humility and less of the obsessive-compulsive and step back a few more cubits from their painting pots. Art directing a young child to ensure that any biblical painting that take pride of place on the fridge is actually really only enhancing one’s own personal aims is not a positive for children’s freest form of self-expression.
Phil Robinson CMI-UK/Europe responds:
As a father of three children I can fully agree with you that kids really do benefit from unstructured, child-directed, and imaginative play. I love nothing more than to watch my kids playing, or being creative. However, you are making a massive leap to effectively claim that children (or adults for that matter) should not receive any direction and are free to represent biblical truths as they see fit.
Throughout Scripture there have been times where God has specifically prescribed how things were to be built or constructed, and these were not left to the artistic licence of the maker. Take, for example, the Tabernacle, for which God provided painstaking detail to inform Moses (Exodus 25-30): how it was to be built, the design of implements to be used, what activities in its confines were to be conducted, and how. Indeed, when things were not done as God had instructed, such as the unauthorised fire laid by Nadab and Abihu (the sons of Aaron), in breach of God’s prescription, He consumed them by fire (Leviticus 10:1–2).
Of course, the Ark is another example of an object in Scripture which was described in great detail; the length, width, height, decks, pitch, windows, etc. This being the case, no-one then has the right to misrepresent what Genesis 6 clearly teaches regarding the shape, scale, and size of Noah’s Ark. We are not free to be as creative as we want about this, and as the original article points out there are many negative implications for people’s faith when we do so.
Ask yourself, how far would you be prepared to go with such a principle of allowing children the “freest form of self-expression”, knowing that, without the Bible to guide them, their work will be a misrepresentation of truth? Does this also apply to re-imagining what the days of creation are and what happened during each? A straightforward reading of the Bible is clear on what occurred, and that they are six, consecutive twenty-four-hour days.
Sadly, many ‘Christians’ today insist on having their own form of salvation, and deny that Jesus is the only way to the God the Father (John 14:6). Yet the Bible is exceptionally clear on this point, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). This may seem harsh, but my point is this: are we free to be as creative as we want? Are we free to re-imagine what the Bible teaches? The answer is a resounding no. There are many articles on this website explaining the major dangers, and grave theological errors involved in going down such a path:
So yes, I agree that creativity is God-given but within the bounds of Scripture—children should be taught to handle things in the Bible with care, which will leave them in a much stronger position for navigating life. Otherwise, we are in real danger of altering God’s word as and when we see fit, or when we want to ‘accommodate’ (i.e. excuse) an aspect of our lives which is not compatible with it. I believe this is true whether our creativity be in writing, acting, film, or artistic depiction.
While our Creator God has certainly endowed mankind, made in His image, with creativity, we do not have a limitless freedom to express ourselves. Noah was obedient to God’s command in how he built the Ark, and we should be no less faithful in our representation of it.
You can download the free colouring-in pictures of Noah’s Ark from the original article.