Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The "Art" of Balance

Justin Taylor links and summarizes a post by Kevin DeYoung on the place of art in church. DeYoung's major points:
  1. We must allow art to be art.
  2. Art is valuable, but so are a lot of other things.
  3. Art can do some things, and it can’t do some other things.
  4. Our worship should strive for artistic excellence, but our worship will inevitably be “popular” and propositional.
  5. Churches can learn to welcome artists, but artists should not expect the church to be an art gallery.
  6. Artists can help us see our idols, and artists have idols of their own too.

There is some good stuff and some not so good stuff there. There are a few things that I think need to be born in mind. First of all, we need to remember that the creative impulse is the first place we encounter God - when He created us. As creatures in God's image we are likewise made to create.

Having said that, creativeness has many expressions. I have long argued that an elegant theorem is as creative as a beautiful painting. Perhaps not as accessible, but certainly as beautiful and creative.

But in order to say that we have to understand that creative and artistic is not necessarily distinct from "propositional." A well rendered painting can communicate a proposition sometimes more effectively than the written word.

But I am unwilling to grant that Christianity is a purely "propositional" enterprise. You see, in the end, Christianity is an encounter with the supernatural. Such a thing will, I think, involve all of our nature, and our nature extents far beyond our intellect.

Which takes me back to creativity. Where do you experience transcendence? Where have you "touched the supernatural?" Perhaps it is atop a mountain, or staring at a beach - maybe in the love of your spouse or at your mother's bosom. If you have not experienced such, I pity you and urge you to seek it out.

Art can do that as well. Admittedly, much of modernity precludes it, but we do not have to be modern. I have personally found transcendence in the incredible cathedrals of old - as I have at 14,000 feet in Colorado. Artists, writers, and preachers are all the instruments of the Holy Spirit. He is the key.

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