Accessible Theology

The Lord Is My Shepherd

“The Lord Is My Shepherd” by Eastman Johnson, 1863

We enjoy sharing art on Veracity. Art inspires thinking in a way that connects with the soul.

After several months of workaday grind and spending way too much time in front of computers, Marion and I took an Easter weekend trip to DC for some rest and relaxation. We toured the Smithsonian museums and attended the Nationals opening day game. A particular highlight of the trip was our visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Among the wondrous paintings on permanent display is Eastman Johnson’s masterpiece, The Lord Is My Shepherd, painted just after the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Historians and art students have spent considerable energy interpreting this painting in the context of the struggle to abolish slavery in 19th century America. They cite Johnson’s sympathetic portrayal of slaves and Native Americans in many of his paintings, his abolitionist views, and his artistic, social, political, and Transcendentalist influences.

Regardless of the analysis, The Lord Is My Shepherd is an evocative portrayal of personal discipleship. However you interpret the historical and societal context, the painting depicts a man quietly reading the Bible. He is not reading the 23rd Psalm, as the title may suggest. He is at the beginning of the Bible—some have suggested in Exodus, given the theme of slavery. He is searching the Scriptures on his own. The title hints at his emotional frame of mind as he does so. Perhaps he is looking for comfort or reassurance in a time of great difficulty. Maybe there’s more to it than that. Maybe not. Either way, it’s personal discipleship.

In historical context, it used to be very difficult to study the Bible—even if you were among the privileged few who could read.

Accessible Theology

We have come a long way since 1863. Access to top-notch seminary classes is freely available—instantly. While a degree or certification may be out of reach for those who cannot afford the time or tuition costs, new Internet tools are available to help you if you just want to learn. For free.

Dallas Theological Seminary records an impressive volume of classroom teaching sessions by some of today’s best instructors and theologians. They serve the videos and transcripts of these classes in a large, online catalog that can be accessed from their mobile app. Entire courses on a wide variety of topics from Old and New Testament surveys, to Jewish history, to the Reformation, to just about every kind of doctrine and theological topic you can imagine. Want to study heaven or hell? How about inerrancy, the reliability of the manuscript documents and translations, eschatology, development of the canon of Scripture, apologetics, religious pluralism, world religions, and so forth? What are your thoughts on cessationism, annihilationism, creationism, evolution, Arminianism, Calvinism, sacramentalism, eschatology, covenant theology, dispensationalism, and Eastern Orthodoxy? How well formed are your doctrinal beliefs? Maybe you just have a simple but deep question, like “How did we get the Bible?” Thanks to Dallas Theological Seminary, you can now freely audit courses that will inspire and help shape your beliefs and thinking.

To get the app, click on the image below and follow the instructions. Play around with the menu and find some courses or presentations that interest you. This app is a prerequisite for our next post on how we got the Bible. There is a particularly good session from Darrell Bock, a Veracity Top Scorer Award winner, on the New Testament canon that I would like to share with you. But you’ll need this app first. Enjoy!

Dallas Theological Seminary App

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

2 responses to “Accessible Theology

  • Virginia

    What an inspirational painting!!! Thanx for sharing. Next time we’re up in DC the American Art Museum sounds like a must see! (The National Gallery usually tops the ‘to visit’ list..) Big blessings to you & Marion!
    grace, peace & inspirational art – virginia : )


    • John Paine

      Somehow we had missed this museum on prior trips. Definitely worth a day of your time. They have a colossal Thomas Hart Benton painting on the second level (Achelous and Hercules), that along with The Lord Is My Shepherd, is worth a day of your time. Very easy to get to from the Metro. The art will not disappoint.


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