What is Christian Art? I consider myself a Christian and and Artist and have lately been wondering about the philosophy of Art. Looking at the Technocrati back links for my wife’s blog I found and interesting entry titled Christian Art on a new addition to my blog roll, intellectuelle.
I’m kind of coming in on the tail end of the conversation, but that won’t stop me for adding my thoughts, ill-formed though they are.
I’ll start with my definition of Art – with a capital A. Art is an act of creation in a medium. It could also be a product of that act.
Christian is an adjective for things having to do with Christ.
It is my belief God is the great artist, molding and guiding the world in the medium we call reality. He also knits us together in our mother’s wombs and molds and guides out lives. There is a great metaphoric picture in Romans 9:21 of God creating with patience lives that for noble and common purposes.
I also believe when the Bible says all humans were created in his image, the primary way we are in his image is our ability to create. Animals don’t make art. They don’t seek beauty. Only man does.
So all art is to some extent the product of the godness in all humans. But like all things it can be pure or it can be twisted. We live in a fallen world, where lies and distortion infuse everything and everyone.
As an aside lets look at angels and demons. In the Judeo/Christian system, angels and demons are the same thing in essence. They have the same abilities and qualities. But one is fallen and completely twisted, and one is pure to its essence, to what God created it to be.
Art can have technical quality and be evil art. Art can be pure and have poor quality. I think the biggest frustration with Christian art is its low quality. And I said in a previous post, why is it when the words “and crafts” is added to art it becomes cheesy?
Not all art is God’s art. Though it is a practice of his likeness, it doesn’t make it his Truth. Not all art is True. I once wrote an essay titled “Fiction Is Not True”. Should find that and post it. The point of it was everyone knows that the facts of a work of fiction are made up, but most people believe the world-view or theme of a work is true. That’s why people read great fiction. It shows them something of the human condition they don’t see normally. But many times even that isn’t True with a capital T.
So the question comes back to what is Christian Art? Is it art by Christians? Or is it art about Christ?
Part of that word usage is what you are trying to say. If you are referring to art created by Christians, it is fine to call it Christian art. If you are referring to art about Christ, it is fine to refer to it as Christian art.
Personally I’d use the term to refer to art about Christ, whether it was created by Christians or not. And I believe non-Christians can create Christian art. And Christians can create non-Christian art.
For example, a Christian singer might higher the best guitar player in Nashville to record guitar tracks on their new album. That guitar player might not be a Christian, but the songs he helps to make of the highest quality are Christian art.
Example of the other way. I think the Goth Swimsuit Calendar is art, but I don’t think it is Christian art. It really has nothing to do with Christ or telling his story. I don’t think it is anti-christ, though I’m sure there are Christians who would think so. But it really leaves Jesus out of the picture.
Now if you really want to have an interesting discussion, start with the question, “What is beauty?”