Why Art should be More than an Evangelistic Tract

In the mid 20th century, Francis Schaeffer set the framework for thinking about the arts in relationship to a Christian Worldview.  However, in the late 20th century, as the church focused on more pragmatic goals and thinking,his point of view was lost to all but a few and missed entirely by the general Christian population.

In his excellent little volume titled “Art and the Bible” Schaeffer states the following:

For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts.  A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.  An art work can be a doxology in itself.”

Among other things, Schaeffer makes the point that art, as redeemed under Christ’s Lordship, speaks to the fullness of God’s creative stamp upon His creation.  Beauty, as one of the foundational purposes of the artistic endeavor, is reason enough to create art within a Christian Worldview.  At times, seeking to “preach” with the arts undercuts the very nature of what the arts may be actually saying.

With this in mind, Christian artists and patrons must work to think more clearly in this regard, especially in light of the tendency to find comfort in our own Christian sub-culture.  Our voices (artistic and otherwise) get trapped in the outer edges of the wider culture because we are always preaching at people.  Yet, when speaking carefully to the wider world about wider issues, within the framework of a Christian Worldview, the Christian artist may find that someone has heard the very voice of God through their creative efforts.

One of the more intriguing pieces of art I have seen recently was in a small gallery while I was traveling in out of state.  Unfortunately, I do not recall the artist – but I remember the painting.  It showed a young woman who had been apparently abused in some way, either physical or emotional.  She sat, legs folded up to her chest and her head down in her knees.  She was painted as she crouched in the corner of a stairwell.  There were three or four stairs below her, and another set of stairs going up to the right.

As I examined the painting, there was one other small feature that could go unnoticed, yet put the Truth of the painting into clear focus.  A few steps down from the young woman sat an apple with a bite out of it.

To the common viewer, this might have fit into the painting as simply a feature of a dirty stairwell, but to the Christian it is full of keen insight.  Of course, the Apple is a reference to the sin of Adam.  Sin has infected the world in which we live, and life is not just about how wonderful Jesus makes our lives when we know Him, or about singing pretty little choruses that make us feel good.  Sometimes life is bad – really bad!

The young woman in this painting is shown to be in a difficult, hurtful situation.  The brokenness of life is the result of the presence of sin in the world.  We don’t know why things happened to this woman the way they did, but we do know that the pain and suffering she is experiencing is not what God intended for this world.

This is an example of what it means to think holistically as a Christian artist, and to show the fullness of the Christian Worldview in a piece of art.  It is thoughtful, provoking, and gives a real world picture of life as we know it.  Although Christ can redeem this young woman, the pain of her situation is a real thing and worth our careful consideration.

So, to all Christian artists and musicians out there:  Think deeply and portray life in its fullness, demonstrating the Truth of the creation-fall-redemption story of the Christian Worldview.


(Original Post on August 11, 2014 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/22168-why-art-should-be-more-than-an-evangelistic-tract)


Posted on October 13, 2014, in Arts, Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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