Beauty and the Church

No, I’m not quite dead yet.

(May have felt close recently, but that’s nothing y’all want to hear about…)

Between being busy, having *ahem* issues, and having the first two items here sap my inspiration, I haven’t had the chance to post. Don’t give up on me though. There’s still some new stuff rattling around my cranium.

For instance, in reading Christianity Today from May 2010, I cam across a little segment they have at the end of the magazine entitled “Who’s Next: People You Should Know.” This month talked about W. David O. Taylor, an arts pastor in Austin, Texas, who has his first book entitled For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts just released.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about creativity and the Christian artist, and the importance of encouraging this as a form of worship and expression that the church needs. I’ve also promoted letting a Christian artist have freedom to produce what they have in mind without expectations. (Here’s a selection of posts of mine on the topic). I’ve usually gone to Francis Schaeffer as an authority on this, and how his book Art and the Bible shows that there is beauty created in the Bible for beauty’s sake, not for an evangelistic purpose.

In reading the short interview with David Taylor, I realized a bit of corrective needed to be applied to my argument. He makes this profound statement:

We shouldn’t stop with classical ideas about beauty; we also need to think about beauty Christologically. The moment we sever beauty from the death and resurrection of Christ, we risk sliding toward idealism or petty-ism.

I thought that was very important, and a point I have not made well enough in the past. Now, I still believe that art can be made for art’s sake, for beauty’s sake. But for the Christian artist, if we are truly walking in a redeemed mindset and a new life, then Christ needs to inform our work. The work of the cross affects what we do. I still don’t believe it has to be blantantly Christian, but a Christian is not free to do “whatever.” Not if we’re true to the One who gave us our gift and redeems it.

So add Mr. Taylor’s great statement to my previous positions about Christianity and the arts.

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