The 81st annual Academy Awards are this Sunday night and in light of all the movie buzz I felt compelled to write a post discussing Christians and Art.
It is no secret that these two entities have long been at war. While many Christians describe Hollywood as the “devil’s playground”, those who make the material consider most Christians to be arrogant and close minded. Truth can be found in both points but to continue this debate misses the greater point.
Before this modern day, consumeristic culture we call America, there were no real distinctions between Christian and secular art. Good art was simply good and bad art was bad. Some of the most exquisite paintings, found in some of the most beautiful religious cathedrals, were works created by those outside of the faith.
Distinguishing things as “secular” and “Christian” can do an injustice to an artist in either genre. Many Christians allow themselves to stop thinking about the art they watch, listen to or view simply because they assume that if it has the word “Christian” attached to it then it must be good. Likewise, many outside of the faith refuse to even consider any art with the word “Christian” attached simply because of the stigma attached to it.
Why, as followers of Christ, can we not learn to engage both forms of art and analyze it appropriately using our Christian worldview? I have personally seen “secular” art that represents some of the most profound Christian principles. I have also seen “Christian” art that represents everything Christ came to save us from. The only way we can analyze the arts appropriately is if we open our minds and allow God’s spirit to guide us in all that we do. Only if we do this, can we truly see things the way God sees them.
Borrowing a thought from Rob Bell, we must also remember that the original word “Christian” was a noun, not an adjective.