I love novels. I especially enjoy the classics. I even love some contemporary fiction. I grew up reading fiction. And I studied it in college. Not everyone will share my passion for Russian and Scandinavian literature, but that doesn’t stop me from commending these treasures.

Sometimes, though, I meet Christians who never read fiction. Sometimes, I talk with Christians who could never imagine reading a novel. They’re even offended by such a waste of time when we could be reading the Bible and non-fiction works that edify believers.

How much more complicated, then, are the visual arts? Protestants today aren’t exactly known for our appreciation of this medium. I personally claim no expertise, with apologies to my one college course on art history. That’s why I’m so thankful to have Russ Ramsey as a docent in his new book, Rembrandt Is in the Wind: Learning to Love Art Through the Eyes of Faith. Ramsey is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and a longtime friend of The Gospel Coalition.

If you’re like me, and you want to love art, but you don’t feel qualified, Ramsey’s book can help. “If you have not yet learned to love beauty,” he writes, “learn to love it late.” We’re made to achieve perfection, at least on the other side of glory, he says. Beauty is glimpsing a preview of that perfection in what we make here and now of goodness and truth. God didn’t need to make this world beautiful. He didn’t need to make humans in his image, concerned with goodness and truth. But he did, so that beauty might awaken us from spiritual stupor. Ramsey writes, “This is the mysterious, transcendent quality of art—something in the liniment oil and pigment breaks through the plain of the canvas and penetrates the human soul in a way that suddenly and inexplicably matters.”

Russ joins me on Gospelbound to discuss Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Kinkade vs. Caravaggio, why you need to learn the rules before you break them, and why a great painting demands as much as does reading War and Peace in one sitting.