Friday, October 21, 2005

God and art

I've recently been in a few discussions concerning what the role of art is in the life of a Christian. Most of these conversations have revolved around film, but I think the concepts can be applied to art in general. I can't say I have come to a dogmatic stance as of yet, but I can say that I do love art and have always had that bent and I believe that it is much easier for the church to say don't see this or that than it is for the church to teach discernment. Obviously there are black and white standards that can (and should) be made, especially as far as what movies are appropriate, but often I believe that these standards are based not off of Biblical truths but social standards. Add to the mix the issues of Christian freedom and responsibilty as well as personal conscience (I Corinthians 8,10)and you start treading into mirkier water. But is mirkier water necessarily bad? I don't believe so. One of my professors in college once said, in relation to Biblical discernment, that the world appears grey, but when one takes the time and effort to truly examine their world it becomes clear that it is made up of black and white particles, often miniscule, but there nonetheless. The point is that instead of steering clear of "grey" or difficult issues in our lives we, as the stewards of God's truth, need to take the time to examine everything and discern between the truth and the lies. Certainly Christians should and must at least have an opinion about art and especially movies. The greatest danger would be to just wander into a theater with no awareness of the worldview presented in a film and no intention of processing what you are soaking up. Sad to say I believe that this is what the majority of the church in America does, whether it is movies or television or music or whatever...But there is the other side of the coin as well. Should movies or television or secular music be thrown out completely? Or can these entities be used for God's glory. That's really the issue for me. Can I in all honesty sit through this film or listen to that song or look at that painting and in good conscience glorify God in doing it? I think sometimes yes, sometimes no. The point is, am I asking that question every time is sit down in front of a tv or screen or stereo? Are you?
Sorry I didnt mean to launch into a diatribe about discernment, what I originally intended was just to pose the question of what should the Christian's relationship to film be and then give you an opportunity to explore the issue and respond in the comments section. Here are a few resources that I have found helpful and pertinent to the issue. Happy discernment!

Jesus is precious because we yearn for beauty - John Piper
Does it matter what others think of us? - John Piper
What's it like to write narrative poems - John Piper
Cash for us converts for you - foolishblog (make sure and read the comments)

by His grace, for His glory


J.R. Freiberg said...

Coincidentally, I went to a Derek Webb concert last night and he spoke a little bit about this issue. One thing that he said that I found interesting was that by seperating art into "Christian" and "Secular" we create both a false sense of security that everthing in the "Christian" catagory is good and a false sense of fear that everything in the "secular" catagory is bad. He challenged us to instead discern using God's standards of what is beautiful and edifying instead of just a superfiscial catagory put forth by some record executive.

Anonymous said...

it's a hard question. do we glorify the Lord with art and not just movies like "Left Behind" or "The cross and the switchblade." there is no denying that art was important in Biblical history. just look at all the chapters on the tabernacle and the temple designs and furnishings. and all the Psalms are a type of art. i also agree that DISCERNMENT is the key for Christians as far as movies, music, and art go. i would even go off of what was said on "Foolishblog" to say that no matter how it is being done (from selfish ambition or pure motives) that Christ is being preached (phil. 1:18). all that to say i think we can enjoy movies and art that are not 100% purely teaching truth, as long as we practice discernment to pull out the truth. my problem is what is a Christian's role in producing art... is it a way to fulfill the Great Commission? even if it is not stictly the gospel being clearly presented? Can we "love God and others" while spending our time just making something for them to see rather than being with people?