Why We Create: Reflections on the Creator, the Creation and the Creating

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Why We Create: Reflections on the Creator, the Creation and the Creating


Edited by Jane Clark Scharl and Brian Brown


Square Halo Books


Publication Date:





204 pages


The Anselm Society began in 2013, an “ecumenical, intergenerational group of people who believed a renaissance of the Christian imagination was both possible and badly needed.” Since then, it has explored what the Christian imagination means through conferences, hosting musicians like Andrew Peterson and scholars like Diana Glyer to talk about their crafts.

Why We Create brings together several Society members (including executive director Brian Brown and senior advisor Matthew Clark) and guests (notably author Jessica Hooten Wilson) to consider important questions regarding the Christian imagination. Questions like, do people create, or is only God a creator? How does knowing we are made “in the image of God” inform our understanding of what it means to make things that reflect his glory?

The essays fall into three sections, each dealing with questions related to the core theme:

Part 1: God Creates

Part 2: We Create

Part 3: God Meets Us in Creation

The essays provide a variety of perspectives. Some writers use their lives as a portal for the discussion—Leslie Bustard describes what she learned about finding beauty each day after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. Others start with philosophy—Hans Boersma uses Socrates’ Allegory of the Cave to discuss how God wants us to see creation as shadows of the divine, but not shadows to be dismissed. While there’s plenty of variety, it’s healthy variety—different perspective fitting together to discuss different facets of creativity.

Two particular things stand out across the essays:

First, each contributor provides well-written, graceful reflections. They address some sad Christian misconceptions about creation and creativity; pastor Paul Buckley recalls a woman rebuking him for saying that God loves creation, for not describing the world as essentially sin-ruined and disposable. However, even when discussing concerns, the contributors never come across as angry—no small feat, given that the last 40 years have been particularly challenging for American Christian creatives (particularly in evangelical churches). They clearly identify faulty ideas, gracefully explain the consequences of the poor thinking, and then kindly describe orthodox Christianity’s better, more redemptive vision.

Second, most contributors discuss the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their circle), but never in a generic way. It’s become quite common for Christian creatives to mention something from Lewis’ apologetics, perhaps the Chronicles of Narnia, almost certainly Tolkien’s theory of subcreation (only God creates, we emulate him on a smaller level). These writers go beyond just mentioning a few Inklings quotes. Matthew Clark discusses what he learned from reading the Silmarillion. Jane Clark Scharl uses Charles Williams’ (rarely discussed) novel Descent into Hell for a discussion about time, space, and how we can use time well. Peter J. Leithart uses J.R.R. Tolkien’s short story “Leaf by Niggle” to push creatives to consider what “doing important creative work for God” really means. The deep engagement with the Inklings allows them to give deep insights.

All these elements—the theology, the personal stories, the references to classic Christian thinkers—come together to make an enriching book.

ASSESSMENT (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience:

Christians seeking a deep look at what Christian theology says about creativity, and how to build a Christ-centered vision of using one’s creative gifts for God’s glory.

Christian Impact:

The writers work together to show not only that there is a Christian theology of creativity, but that a Christian theology of creativity is exciting, fascinating, and adventurous.


Note: Readers can find out more about the Anselm Society at:


Note for ECLA Readers: People who enjoyed this work may also enjoy Matthew Clark’s book Only the Lover Sings:


Why We Create: Reflections on the Creator, the Creation, and Creating



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