My dear friend Elyse recently loaned me a book called Art and the Bible, written by Francis Schaeffer. It was less a book and more an essay, and I read it in one sitting. Let me tell you, it was refreshing to have someone explore so many ideas related to the Christian worldview and the value of art.
The idea that stood out to me the most was this: the Christian world view has both a major and minor theme. The minor theme is that the world has revolted and is revolting against God, that Christians will never be perfect this side of heaven. The major theme is that God is at work redeeming the world.
What does that mean for the Christian artist? It’s okay for your art to show both themes too.
Why does this matter to me? Because, as a Christian artist who has suffered from OCD, I’ve sometimes wondered if my responsibility to my faith meant that I needed to focus only on the positive. The answer is no. It should be emphasized over the minor theme, but the minor theme has its place in my writing too.
I wish that all Christian artists realized this. We need more gritty, raw Christian art and fewer poems about rainbows and puppies. If you have art like this– especially written work– you should submit your work to Crux Literary Journal. We’d be thrilled to take a look.
This book is so interesting. Great points and very thought-provoking.
I was raised Catholic, so religious art is something I’ve been exposed to. I had friends and family who were part of Greek and Russian Orthodox churches. Hands down one of the best choirs I had the pleasure of hearing was in a Russian Orthodox church. The art work which were mostly in the form of icons weren’t half-bad either. There is something about religious art and music (Gregorian chants) that inspires me even though I’m not a believer anymore. There is something about aspiring to replicate our highest ideals like love, sacrifice, dedication, hope etc… that is missing from music these days. Man, do I sound old, lol.
I need this book! Thanks for letting me know about it!!
Thank you, I think this is a really important idea that the church has largely missed, and it applies to all kinds of art. If it’s not overly positive or obviously about God in some way (more like preachy), it’s not ‘Christian.’ I’ve wondered lately if we can really call anything ‘Christian art’ anyway, or if it’s all just art that happens to be made by Christians.
So interesting, Natalie. I think what’s really sad is that the title “Christian art” has come to mean sappy/cheesy/subpar. Christ himself was anything but.