Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Genuine Article OR Cheap Imitation?

One of my favourite factual TV programmes, ‘Fake or Fortune’ has returned to the BBC for a third series.  In the art world where fortunes can be made and lost, the series investigates the provenance of paintings in order to establish whether they are genuine or fake.

What makes the series compelling viewing is the way in which the hosts, Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould unravel the truth about each painting. Since the beginning, the programme has thrown up some fascinating surprises including the discovery of a painting by Winslow Homer. The painting with an estimated value of around $250,000 was found near a rubbish dump.

The programme also discovered a painting by Monet which had been lost, and proved that a 17th century Dutch painting from a prominent European collection was a fake.

Interviewed by Gabriella Griffiths for ‘London loves Business’, Philip Mould was asked to describe the investigative process used in ‘Fake or Fortune’: 

“The first part is just the eye – there is a lot of Sherlock Holmes in it, it is about noticing things which have specific characteristics of the artists involved, as opposed to general characteristics of the era. Brush strokes can work like fingerprints………………The eye can appear to be airy and poetical and so forensics is a good way to back you up.  

You can look at the materials used, where the paints originated from, identify the canvas but also look for things invented after the artists lived. That’s often a big give away……..It’s all evidence that would impress juries!

The third is the history of the painting, who owned it? The idea is to dig down layer after layer, find out who passed it to whom and hopefully bring it back to the artist. Place it on their easel.”

Working out the difference between the genuine article and a fake is a skill which every individual learns in life…..some better than others. These skills of investigation, questioning and comparison are applied by most people day and daily as a matter of routine to most areas of life.

As a Christian who lives in a multi-denominational society, I have often wondered if every person who claims to be part of a church is the genuine article. Given that these are difficult times for genuine true believers, how do Christians differentiate between the genuine and the fake?

The Bible provides a clear answer to this question. The following list is a summary of personal qualities scripture tells us should be evident in those who are ‘the genuine article’ as opposed to ‘cheap imitations’.

True believers are those who:

ü  Can testify that they have been born again by the Spirit of God.

ü  Believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

ü  Have a hunger for God’s Word.

ü  Pray to their Heavenly Father.

ü  Love their fellow believers.

ü  Attend a Bible believing church.

ü  Obey the Lord (keep His Word).

ü  Do not continue in sin but aspire to live humble, righteous lives.

ü  Do not enjoy living in sin.

ü  Love their neighbours and perform good works.

ü  Confess Christ before men in all situations.   

In the final analysis, only God knows the genuine from the fake, and no doubt there will be many surprises in heaven, given Scotland’s denominational mix. However, those who concur with the list above should rest assured that they are most certainly one hundred per cent, the genuine article.
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