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I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to sit down and talk with renowned artist Makoto Fujimura, the artist behind The Four Holy Gospels. It was especially encouraging and fascinating to hear about the way in which the Lord drew Mako to himself. (Hint: pray for the people listed in letters from missionaries!) And I was personally instructed by the ways in which he counseled folks (like me) who appreciate art but don’t fully “get it” but want to serve and encourage artists.

Here’s the video, followed by a rough outline of our conversation:

00:00-2:00 What is an illuminated Bible?

2:00-2:45 Why was this Fujimura’s most “exhausting and “exhilarating” project?

2:45-4:55 Why does he think this will be the project he will be remembered for?

4:55-5:55 Brief overview of Fujimura’s life before he became an artist

5:55-8:20 Growing up in a non-religious but highly creative home

8:20-11:50 Being an agnostic moralist at Bucknell, and the impact of the KJV and poetry and literature as a preparation for faith

11:50-13:15 Meeting his wife and moving to Japan

13:15-19:30 How the Lord used missionary friends, a pastor, and William Blake’s poem Jerusalem to bring him to faith in Tokyo

19:30-21:30 How unbelieving artists can be haunted by beauty and alienated from the beauty they create when they don’t have room for transcendence

21:30-24:00 His double exile—his conversion and evangelism changed artists’ perception of him, and people in the church didn’t understand the importance of art, and the founding of the International Arts Movement

24:00-27:15 What Fujimura would say to pastors who like art and want to encourage and influence arts but who “don’t really get art.”

27:15-30:55 What Fujimura would say to artists who feel like their creativity is in tension with creedal theology.

30:55-36:00 What Fujimura would say to people who want to be affected by art and to grow in their appreciation for art but don’t know what to do, and how The Four Holy Gospels might help

You can download the MP3 or listen to it below:

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25 thoughts on “An Interview with Makoto Fujimura on “The Four Holy Gospels,” Art, and Christianity”

  1. Joel says:

    The video is password-protected!

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Fixed. Sorry about that!

  2. Richard says:

    Wow, Justin. Just listened to this–what a terrific conversation you had with Fujimura. What a blessing to hear him speak. I’m going to pass this along to my pastor; it is very good. Thank you.

  3. What a great interview. I’ll certainly be sending this link to many of my friends. Mr. Fujimura’s testimony and appreciation for the arts is both instructing and inspiring.

    Plus, I like it that he points out that preaching is an art. ;)

  4. Donovan says:

    This was edifying – both the discussion of the arts and Christianity (some really rich reflections!), and the wonderful testimony of faithful Christians who kept on presenting Christ to him… Thank-you!

  5. marc says:

    what a great story of how praying for people in missionary letters works

  6. Gavin Brown says:

    JT, is there an audio version available?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Not yet, but I’ll try to add it within the day.

  7. Dean Cummings says:

    Powerful testimony with valuable insights into an artists perspective on how and why the Gospel is relative. It broadens vision and understanding of how transcendance and personal creativity are compatable as we speak evangelistically to the art community.

  8. Dean P says:

    Is anybody else having trouble downloading the MP3?

    1. JMH says:

      I did. I think there’s a typo in the link. I copied & pasted the link, then deleted the final bracket (after the .mp3), and was able to load & download the mp3.

  9. Thank you for sharing this. A copy of “The Four Holy Gospels” arrived yesterday. I’d love to remove the cellophane wrapping, slip the book out of the case, and delight in the beauty I’m certain will be found on every page – but it’s a gift for my brother-in-law’s April birthday. I’ll just have to be patient.

  10. TPS says:

    Do you have a transcript of this?

  11. Dean P says:

    JMH. Cut and paste it to what or where?

  12. Felicity says:

    This was fascinating! Thank you! So much to think about . . .

  13. Loralee says:

    With an artists insight, a poet’s language, and a keen intelligence, Mako is building a bridge to bring the beauty, truth and transcendence of Scripture to a post-modern culture that has too often been alienated by evangelical superstars and a polarized political climate. Thank you for sharing this!

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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