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A Reminder, An Encouragement

April 25, 2016

written by Brian Shesko

A reminder, and also an encouragement:

“Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person who is a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism.”*

Francis Schaeffer said this 43 years ago in his book “Art and the Bible”, an exceptionally helpful little book (it’s just under 100 pages) and an essential read for its explanation of the Christian’s relationship to the arts, whether that person is an artist or a consumer. Ultimately, he is arguing that the themes in art produced by a Christian do not have to be specifically Christian, or even religious, in nature. It is a good reminder that the content of a creative work does not have to be explicitly, overtly Christian for it to have significance, beauty, or value.

Of course, the content or message of a creative work is important, especially when presented in an artistic medium. Schaeffer warns of the dangers of great art that has an “untrue or immoral message”; we tend to lower our defenses in response to artistic beauty, and so it can have devastating consequences in leading people astray.** His point, though, is that art’s value is not dependent on its Christian-ness. He puts it more bluntly: “Too often we think that a work of art has value only if we reduce it to a tract.”*** He simply points to the world around us, which shows that God did not deal only in “religious” objects, but in nearly unending variety and style****. Beauty is evident in nearly every detail in all creation, something we are able to imitate when we create our own works.

This idea of beauty in creativity touches on another idea that perhaps is more important: finding joy in creating, or the pure enjoyment of, works of art. But for now, we think this is an important point to remember as we watch, learn from, and discern our way through the various creative works we encounter, Christian or otherwise.

Schaeffer also offers a good encouragement to those of you who are Christians doing various creative works: use your imaginations to their fullest, and resist the pressure that is often placed on you to produce only that which can be rubber-stamped as “Christian”. As he argues, an active faith has already informed and continues to inform a Christian’s work, and that will show through whether the subject matter is a bowl of fruit or the fruit of the Spirit.

 

References

*Art and the Bible, page 88

**Page 66

*** Page 54

****Page 88



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