“Be-reshit bara Elohim Et Ha sha- mayim Ve’et ha’eretz,” (Genesis 1:1).
Most of my readers probably have this verse memorized in English, and it is one of the few that I have memorized in Hebrew. But what does this verse have to do with my rant today? Well, as the advertisements for new, hip Christian movies boisterously bounded off the walls, and Christian small groups danced at the creative genius of the new gospel movie, my mind was consumed with the indignation of voices echoing inside my mind. I wanted to scream, “Silence! When did we start selling the gospel?”
Now, before one says, “But you can not judge what you have not watched,” I will say I have seen countless Christian movies, and it pains me to say that even though we worship a God of creation- as demonstrated in Genesis — we seem hell-bound on selling a beautifully packaged gospel, free from any real burdens and profound depth. We paint an imaginary world that is alien to the world that we live in, and decry the attempts of atheist directors’ detail of boisterously uneducated Christians as we paint atheists the same way wantonly.
God is a God of creation, a God of beauty, so much so that the Earth testifies about Him (Romans 1). Jesus even declares, while he is being praised as “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” that if the crowd were only quiet enough, they could hear even the rocks praise him. So, this leads to the first part of my annoyance with Christian Art: the theology of it.
If art is worship, our worship should be beautiful; and if our God is Holy, our art should be Holy, not the same old blatantly, poorly done, theft of the art from the unregenerate. You have to realize that when “our art” is a rehashed Christian universalist version of “Groundhog’s Day” or a cheesy Jesus-infused Romantic comedy, we have a problem. Because not only are we being lazy, we are also not fully worshiping God for who He is. Now, I am not saying that our art has to be Scripture-heavy. One of my favorite bands is Twenty One Pilots, and I have quickly realized that their songs, “A Car, a Torch, and a Death”, “Taxi Cab”, “Addict with a Pen”, and “March to the Sea” proclaim more gospel truth than many contemporary “Christian” songs. These songs come from a band of two Christian kids writing music for everyone and naturally lacing their music with the gospel. Art doesn’t “become Christian” simply because we put Jeremiah 29:11 on it. It becomes Christian when we proclaim the gospel unaltered and without the theft of non-Christian property. In fact, I’m 99% sure that this is technically theft, which is a sin, think about it like this: Martin Luther once said, “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
Our art becomes Christian when we do all things for His glory. The gospel is shared when we live it out. And our art should be the best we can do, because we proclaim a living God. We don’t need to paint trees to say “Jesus,” because Nature announces Him without our help (Romans 1).
My second and last reason, for now, is that modern Christian Art creates a commercialized gospel by which we can make a profit from preaching Christ crucified, and that should be obviously wrong, as it also encourages faulty work, because the more we produce, the more money we make. Think about it like this. Bach, arguably one of the greatest classical composers ever known died with an entire library of theological books. The Christian artist infuses their art with the faith when they are, as C.S. Lewis once described himself, theologians first when they are creative as God is creative, and when it is not about money, but rather about God and when their entire life is enraptured by the redeeming work of Christ.
May the Peace of Christ be with you.