Renew the Arts Roundtable is a continuing series of discussions between members and friends of Renew the Arts concerning (mostly) recent happenings in the intersecting worlds of faith, art, and popular culture. In this first installment, three staff members talk about Ambient Church, the implications this movement has for the relationship between the Church and the Arts, and how Christian art can be liberated by analyzing this issue.
After launching the Renew the Arts podcast, we started getting lots of feedback. All of it was encouraging, and a lot of it contained (even from some of our most supportive fans) some skepticism about the amount of emphasis we place on arts in the church. The arts might be important, but are they actually essential in any way to the work of the church? Sure, we like them, but can’t we actually do without them in the church and still be okay? Is it really that big of a deal?
Are the arts really that central to the life and work of the church?
It’s a question on many of our minds since Billy Graham died: What now?
This iconic moment for American evangelicalism paints a clear picture of what has weighed heavy on the heart of Christians, even before the passing of Billy Graham: who will carry the gospel into the next generation? The conversation has a tinge of hopelessness, as millennials flood out of the church at an increasing rate. “America’s pastor” is dead. Will the church in America die with him? It almost looks like it will.
These days, calling someone amateur is an insult. If you’re an amateur, you don’t have the “skillz to pay the billz.” By amateur, we generally mean an inept know-nothing with no expertise—a hack.
But I want to rescue the label amateur from its current dishonor. It’s my opinion that the greatest potential in the arts today comes from amateurs. We need more of the amateur spirit, not less. What do I mean?
Is it possible for art to be unjust? In this installment of our “Whatever” series on aesthetics (drawing from Philippians 4:8), I discuss how to make just art. Because we can’t just make art. We need to make just art. (Groan.) But what does it mean for art to be just or—as most translators put it—right?
The word “right” (δίκαιος dikaios) used in Philippians 4:8 is mostly translated “righteous” or “just” in the rest of the Scriptures, and it indicates guiltlessness or innocence. For our purposes, the phrase refers to art that defends and promotes God’s legal perspective. The first and most obvious denotation of law-keeping would be that just art does not break, or encourage breaking, any of God’s Law(s). But the criterion drives deeper than that.