Date of Award
Professor Rene Zimny
Dr. Barbara Pemberton
Dr. Ray Franklin
Art is the mother tongue of culture. William Cameron Townsend, pioneer missionary and founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said “The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue.” But the mother tongue of any people of any culture is more than just the spoken and written word. It is found in every artistic and visual expression of that people. How is the Bible, the everlasting truth of God, to be expressed through artistic expression in the ‘mother tongue’ of a people?
Often, Christianity is painted as the Westerner’s religion. Christianity is very ingrained into specifically America’s cultural identity. In some places, people joke that “there’s a church on every street.” For overseas missionaries, the locals will use the excuse that in the same way Christianity presents itself as America’s religion, Buddhism is a part of their own cultural identity. My goal is to review and understand the historical and contemporary distinctives of specifically Vietnamese culture through artistic expression, find out what art and images are ‘native’ to the culture—in not just traditional art, but also the art of contemporary generations as most abundantly seen in online, digital, and social media.
I am asking the questions of how can the Gospel be proclaimed in an unreached people using artistic images that are indigenous? How can the Gospel be proclaimed using visual expression of a modern era through digital means? And lastly, how can the call of cross-cultural missions be broadcast to the West using images from an unreached people/culture—using the unfamiliar to educate and mobilize prayer and direct missions mobilization?
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Perkins, Hannah, "The Artistic Mother Tongue" (2021). Honors Theses. 815.