The Arts & Theology: Part 2
One could perhaps read my previous post about the arts and assume that there is nothing at all wrong in the ways we currently view them. That we are living in this perfect world glorifying God with no sense of creativity being used for evil. This is clearly a lie right? We all know that artists can make much of themselves as well as even cause harm with this creativity.
The previous post was based on the fact that God created us in His image and we creatively reflect this. However to remain there would be to neglect what we all term, “The Fall”. After Adam & Eve rebelled against God our image was fractured. So instead of being like a perfect mirror reflecting His glory we do it now as if one that was shattered in multiple pieces.
This is most visibly shown in the time period immediately proceeding God anointing the artist to design the temple. In Exodus 32:1-29 we see how art can be used in a negative fashion. Aaron made this awe inspiring golden calf “with a graving tool” in hand. Art can be idolatrous. I will dive into what perhaps causes this in a couple of paragraphs but don’t underestimate the power of music, poetry, paintings, spoken words, and other countless abilities people have to use. The same creative ability used to make the car and plane also was able to design a bomb that could kill thousands in an instant.
In the book of Romans we see the core of all human sin. It is to “exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.” Every human is created worshipping and pours their life into something. According to the Bible our problem is that this outpouring of worship designed for God gets located into something else. This happens all around us as we see artists obsess over their given craft and place all meaning into this rather than God. There is an inherent danger in idols being created of beauty that are in and of themselves the highest good.
What causes the artist to be idolatrous? What can cause someone to cave into doing something that perhaps they are not even the most welcoming to do? The ever demanding and critical audience. Read that story in Exodus 32. When Moses came down to face Aaron what did he say was the reason? “They said to me, ‘Make us gods….’” He caved in to the pressures of making something that others wanted. We merely have to look at what is popular to see how musicians have simply catered to what people have asked for and given us shallow songs with easy to memorize lyrics. Songs that promote not merely an “anti-God” view but often empty of any shell of morality.
Our fallen world is a showcase of the evilness that creativity can bring into the lives of people. I have witnessed kids as young as 10 hit a girl and when discussing with them they mentioned they heard it in a song. Does this mean the song caused them to demean a woman? No its not a scapegoat for responsibility. However various art forms are what shape culture. What ideas that go into those art forms shape those. So when I say that this is a fallen world along with art I have experienced it first hand. Where is the balance then? What is an overall balance of creating good art that reflects God in a fallen world? Good question this will all come to a completion in the 3rd post on the Arts & Theology.