Art and the Artist

I was browsing the interwebs when I came across Sojourn Community Church in Lousieville, Kentucky. They are an Acts 29 church that are seeking to reach their culture with the gospel. One intiative that they have is called 'The 930'. It's an art studio/music venue that they sponsor because they believe that they have a mandate to support the arts.
I was thinking... what is the role of visual art within Christianity. I dig art. It's one of my things. I can definately see a push within some Christian circles to 'take back the arts.'
Three great reasons I can see for doing this are:
1. God is creator, we are creatures who use creation creatively. It is part of or nature to shape creation. Adam did it through gardening, Beethoven did it with music, why not do it with art?
2. Christians have always been at the forefront of art and music until recent times. Our faith has always reflected itself in creativity.
3. Art and media are cultural indicators. It is important that Christians maintain influence in these areas so as to be light in a world of darkness.

All this said - sometimes as we pursue art, we can find ourselves worshipping beauty rather than worshipping God. For eg, we cannot bear to meet somewhere unless it pleases us aesthetically, or we go home from church up or down based on the cool power point slides rather than God's word, or we give up coming under the word altogether and start just spending time listening or participating in music and creating art. The experience of art making and art participation is powerful because it stirs our emotions. We can begin trusting this experience to fuel us rather than trusting God and his word where he meets us.
Harold Best has spoken of this in one of his lectures at SBTS. He says that art while beautiful can never replace words for expression of the gospel. God uses words to meet his people and they will mainly come to an understanding of him through words (by the power of his Spirit). The spoken or written word has never been surpassed as a communicative form because it is stable, reliable, unchanging, and has much less abiguity than a piece of music or a painting.
All of that being said, Best argues that artifacts should be part of the christian life, not as a way of explaining the gospel, but as offerings of worship to the creator God. I draw a picture as an expression of the creativity God has given me, and people can see his creative nature through my work. He gets glory from art. Artifacts are offerings, not tracts.
Therein lies the balance. Don't worship art, worship God. Trust his word to communicate and use your gifts to praise. Keep being arty for God's glory.
Picture above is called 'redemption' from the exhibition 'How Quickly comes the Night' showing at The 930.

Posted byDan at 7:59 AM  


Ben said... 1:50 PM  

Ah, what a refreshing lack of pragmatism!

This is the line: "Artifacts are offerings, not tracts."

I reckon save the punchline for the end of that sentence though, "Artifacts are not tracts, but offerings."

That's seriously quotable, Dan. Good job.

Post a Comment