Here we are at the conclusion of Theology and the Arts. Whereas these are very summarized versions of much that has been thought greatly on the arts I hope this has caused you to think more deeply about the Arts and their importance. I would suggest for more study readings by Francis Schaeffer, Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Abraham Kuyper on these subjects.
To slightly recap the previous two articles we came to the conclusion that God’s creativity is birthed in His children to glorify Him in all the earth. That truths that transcend the natural world can be birthed through forms (included in the bible) such as poetry, imagery, painting, design, music, etc… However this would be an incomplete view of scripture if we stopped there. We know that through the infamous “Fall” of mankind that this image has been marred. Using the example that Aaron used his creativity to create an idol we understand that human kind has a propensity to place all worship and ultimate value outside of Christ. We see this from artists, musicians, poets, photographers and all else who revolve their lives around their given profession.
Where does that leave us with regards to art? If we reflect God but are so sinful that we turn to idolatry it would seem somewhat hopeless. We often hear about the “already but not yet” tension of our salvation or the kingdom of God. This tension exists as we are already cleansed from the power of sin but not the presence. Or in relation to the kingdom of God people mention how God’s kingdom is already here individually (or perhaps socially in the Church) but not yet to the fullest.
I would like to submit that there exists a similar tension in art. We live in a desperately fallen world prone to serve self at the expense of any and everyone else. We see the massive suffering on the news daily and are sheltered to even larger scale amounts that go unseen.
There exists a problem of evil that in our scientific and spiritually absent culture that we cannot account for. As a believer in Christ (or for this matter any ‘god’) art would transcend what is seen to be able to display that which is not. Art could have the potential to display truths and a “higher reality that is offered by this sinful world”. Forms of art such as music have shown to keep the spirits alive through tremendous suffering as slavery in North America which birthed the soulful negro spirituals that people remember to this day.
As believers in Christ we do not think that this world in its current form is it however. If this is all we have to hope in and there is not transcending truth then art in its truest form would simply imitate whatever is here. Painting could simply be closer and closer to what is real and that would be it. If a more Pantheistic view that the earth is simply getting better and moving forward then we ignore suffering. This minimizes the fact that everything is not necessarily getting better and culminating in a certain euphoria at a given time.
We believe that there is a beauty to this reality that is shown even in the midst of tragedy. We believe that this world was created beautifully and full of life. However we understand that there is a brokenness to it and that there is tremendous suffering. There is tremendous sin in here as well. We need not sanitize sin or difficulty for if we do then grace is taken far too lightly. So basically a Christian artist can see the difficulty presently, the beauty of the past Eden, and the hope of the New Jerusalem when God restores the Earth.
Well what does this mean practically? There is much debate over artists making “Christian music” or “Christian paintings”. Which is ironic as no one ever wonders whether their cars are Christian or if their laptops have confessed Christ as Lord. Some debate over the content in a message of an artist who is a believer. When listening to music artist Sho Baraka discuss this topic he gave the following quote: “Some people can make art about the light while others can make art about what the light allows you to see.” When we continue to give these very sterilized versions of sin like stealing or saying “damn” on accident is the worst we can do then God’s grace looks like a joke.
The Christian who is in the arts should simply create and display all things to point to the transcendent truth that God has given us. This can be about Him, His views on various issues, the worldview we have on suffering, hope in a difficult situation, or simply life issues. All done in excellence simply to be viewed, heard, enjoyed, and reveled in. We will for all eternity praise our King and Savior through various forms so I think there is a level of this in all people. I do not want this post for mere knowledge but soak in the grace and knowledge of Christ while allowing our creativity to flow forward and glorify God in all areas.