Beauty is much more than a work that’s pleasing to the eyes or a pretty face. What lies underneath is just as important, if not more so. An attractive woman who is selfish, mean, and cold-hearted is not beautiful at all. She just has the appearance of it. Likewise, a movie or play or other piece of art that is a sensual masterpiece, but promotes dishonest and evil content, is not beautiful.
Beauty is much more than a work that is truthful or wholesome. Form is important also. If you heard me performing a theologically rich worship song or a love song with heart-stirring lyrics, “beautiful” certainly wouldn’t be the adjective that came to mind. “Painful” would probably be closer to your choice.
These two components of beauty, content and form, are important. Both are needed for a work of art to be truly beautiful. Christian art (I use this term broadly) oftentimes is lacking in both areas.
Therefore, this is a plea for Christian musicians, authors, painters, sculptors, and patrons to reclaim the importance of true beauty in a world with such a distorted view.
By content, I mean a work’s overall message, or its substance. What is the author or creator trying to communicate through the art?
In Christian art, the medium may change, but the intended goal is supposedly centered upon one thing: glorifying God. The problem is that much of the Christian sub-genres are filled with theological mush. Books in the Christian fiction category often give you the “warm fuzzies”, but nothing more. A huge chunk of Christian music has forfeited theological depth for the sake of catchy rubbish.
We are in need of Christian artists who are passionate about creating works of art with robust content. Are we supporting those who seek to communicate the rich message of the gospel or those who simply present a sentimental form of Christianity?
Not everyone is a C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien who can create a literary masterpiece from a Christian worldview. That’s fine. But we should be trying to produce art that glorifies God through its high-quality form. Just as the most staunch atheist can be awed by the vibrant colors of a sunrise or lost in the grandeur of a range of snow-capped mountains, so we should glorify God through works that express His creativity to an unbelieving world.
Sadly, this is not the case with most Christian art. The massive revenues generated by Christian genres more likely point to our naiveté than the products’ quality.
We should be a people who pursue true beauty with excellent form and content. This will take us encouraging artists to push beyond the status quo of Christian entertainment to produce works that reflect God’s depth and creativity. It will take us no longer throwing our money at inferior art labeled Christian because we demand more from our artists. After all, if anyone in this world desires to display creative genius, it should be one who has been struck with the fact that we were created to reflect the character and nature of our Creator.
Therefore, it’s time for Christians to give this unbelieving world a glimpse of our great God who created the cosmos from nothing. He created this world and all of its glorious intricacies, but now it, along with its sense of beauty, has been subjected to sin. As the redeemed, we give this world a glimpse of hope through our messages of redemption, reconciliation, and the like. Christian artists, don’t settle for mediocrity. You have been saved for much more.
It’s time to glorify God by reclaiming beauty in its truest sense.