Harbinson speaks on art, culture and faith’s role

Students and faculty were given the opportunity to learn from internationally acclaimed writer, producer and director Dr. Colin Harbinson Thursday and Friday, Feb. 5-6 as a part of the Ann Wharton Lecture Series. Harbinson spoke to classes around campus and during the 11th annual banquet Thursday night and met with student artists Friday.


After a dynamic salvation experience when he was 12 years old, Harbinson launched headfirst into ministry. However, it took until Harbinson entered postsecondary education for him to understand that he was talented in a number of different areas.

“I was brought up in a very conservative Christian home,” Harbinson said. “I saw my first movie at 19, and that was my big act of rebellion. … Once I got into university … I realized that God had blessed me with creative juices, if you will, but I had never had the
opportunity to develop those.”

In his professional career, Harbinson has lectured in more than 50 countries and has previously served as a dean of the arts programs at two different colleges. Harbinson also works with a number of ministries, including Wycliffe Bible Translators and Intervarsity, as a mentor on integrating the arts with missions.

Harbinson is currently the international director of StoneWorks, a Belhaven College initiative.

“StoneWorks is a catalytic movement — I call it a global arts initiative — and that involves many things,” Harbinson said. “I pull together leaders in the arts to empower them, to help them to partner together to share resources. I do the same for emerging artists. (I) encourage them and help them to be who God wants them to be. We’ve done so much in the arts in isolation in the past, so we need partnership.”

During his visit to Liberty, Harbinson touched on his “Living Art, Living Stones” series, which is an extensive review of how Christians should be influencing and creating culture. The lecture has been used in both secular and Christian universities across the country.

According to Harbinson, in recent years, Christians have been reluctant to embrace the arts.

“The church has been in exile to the arts for a very long time,” Harbinson said. “It’s been a love-hate relationship. But God is doing something new. And just like the exiles left Babylon, my word to the church and my word to the artists is, ‘Your exile has ended.’ … I believe God is bringing the arts back to the church. He’s bringing artists back to the church. … I believe God’s calling Christians into the arts to be servants, to walk in humility, to walk in excellence, to walk in purity with him as our first love and everything flowing out of that.”

Though Harbinson works with professionals in the arts, he said he also enjoys teaching young people and students to use their artistic skills effectively.

“I have a real passion for what God is going to do in and through the arts,” Harbinson said. “So I have a lot of focus on mentoring the next generation, because I believe … God has his hand on this generation in a special way. And I want to affirm that. … Nothing makes me happier than when I see people realize, ‘God has gifted me, and it’s OK to be an artist and a Christian. And not only is it OK, God wants to use me in a very powerful way.’ So that gives me the most satisfaction.”

Harbinson encouraged aspiring artists to intentionally seek to honor God with their talents in the arts.

“I want to (encourage) young people to recognize their gifts and to develop them to their greatest potential and offer them to the Lord,” Harbinson said. “That might mean going into the culture. It might be in an orchestra, or it might be in the church. Wherever God places them, to do it with excellence and to make sure that they walk closely with him in the process.”

For more information about Harbinson, visit colinharbinson.com.

Brown is the editor-in-chief.

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