Christians used to be at the cutting edge of the arts, now we tend to be a few years behind. I was in a discussion the other day about creativity and how the church is falling behind in the arts. The person I was talking to said, “I think the church has championed objective truth so much that we are afraid of the subjectivity that comes with creativity.”
We do believe in absolute truth. We are not ashamed of that BUT much of life is lived in the gray land of subjectivity. God’s word gives us absolute principles to guide our lives but very few specifics. For example, scripture doesn’t tell us our spouses favorite color and therefore which gift we should buy them. Scripture simply teaches us to love and respect our spouse.
Artistic expression is subjective in many ways. A good piece of art has the ability to communicate things beyond what an artist intended. A good song is completed by the listener NOT the writer or performer. The combination of lyrics, dynamics, rhythms, melodies, and harmonies effect each listener slightly differently. Good art requires reading between the lines. If I had to explain to a listener how they should receive every facet of my song and how they should feel about it, then it wouldn’t be a good song. It is the indescribable element of an art piece that makes it beautiful.
So what is the down side of Absolute Truth? If the church becomes afraid of anything that is not explicit and absolute, we will never use art to express the incomprehensible beauty of the gospel. If we cannot take the truth of the Gospel and translate it into artistic express, is it really “good news?” Some of the most beautiful things in life are not definable in simple terms. Things like love, compassion, hope, and peace are emotions that require metaphors to describe. The beauty of God and the gospel are similarly incomplete without the joy of expression.
Creativity shapes culture more then almost any other thing. The innately subjective nature of cinema, art, speech, and music are what is shaping our world. If we want the Gospel to penetrate culture we need to embrace the nebulous world of creativity. We must create gospel saturated art and trust the sovereignty of God to translate what he wants to the observer.
Here is a band that I see grabbing on to some of the musical trends of our day. There are many more and there are probably better examples but I just saw this one today.