Overcoming “anti-art” Sentiment in the Church

A Cezanne still life helps me understand the appleness of apples more clearly just as a Bellini painting of the Madonna and Child helps me understand the incarnation in more profound ways. Quoted from Jim Janknegt on ArtsandFaith.com.

I’m in the midst of reading Redeeming the Arts, a paper commissioned by the The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization for their 2004 gathering in Thailand. It’s long, appropriately. Forty-two pages. And I’m only about a third of the way through it. But it speaks in part to art’s ability to re-represent the appleness of apples and so on, as the quote above asserts. To quote a portion of what I’ve read so far,

“Art at its best always invites us to see things in fresh ways and is able to move us to the truth about things. It can also have great value in bringing order to the chaos of life, and helping us understand our own humanity and the world around us.”

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible expressed fear that the majority of evangelicals have reduced Art to a tract. That is, Art is only good for pious activities. I’ve run across this attitude in the church many times, both in the institution and in individuals. It’s born out of ignorance; the people don’t realize they are reducing a gift to humanity; reducing to a platitude, in a sense, a part of humanity which directly corresponds to our being created in the image of God.

I love the idea of Golgotha as a gallery, as proposed in this article. But what I wish is for more, and most, Christians to respond favorably to it. To involve themselves in the discussion, in the thought, whether agreeing, disagreeing or just pondering. In our current Christian sub-culture, the reaction to visual art is more of an indifferent shrug with a euphemistic grin to hide actual disinterest.

People who have no gifting or interest in the arts (of any type) seem to perceive the arts as being “over my head.” They think that in order to appreciate it, in order to get anything out of it, they must delve into some deep and abstract philosophical aura.

This isn’t the case, although artists and culture are partially to blame for this sentiment as much as the disinterest of the Church. So how do we reconcile this? Redeeming the Arts sets out to answer this question. And I’m very eager to finish it.



About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

One Response to Overcoming “anti-art” Sentiment in the Church

  1. Pingback: Do the arts need redeeming? « Scissortail Art Center

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