Christians and Bad Art

For many years, the Christian church has been the subject of artistic criticism. Theological, social, and political critiques aside, much has been said about the lack of creativity.

In the future, I plan to dedicate a whole week to this topic, affirming some of the criticism, as well as defending what I believe to be amazing art coming from the Christian community. For now I will focus on one thread.

The biggest charge against Christian artists has been that there is a lack of honesty in the work presented, that everything feels forced or contrived, too safe.

Honestly, I understand this argument, and agree in large part. Much of what you see when you walk into a Christian book store is not-so-clever remixes of popular culture.

Take these for instance:

Rosie the Riveter and Monster Energy drinks go to church. It’s novelty, and while it is by no means exclusive to Christian companies, this is the church’s prevalent offering to the marketplace.

This should not be.

Christians believe in an ultimate creator that painted the beauty of the sunset with the word of His mouth, that all the colors at our disposal were dreamed up in the mind of God, and that we were uniquely created in his very image and likeness.

Why then would carbon copy mediocrity be acceptable? Perhaps this is why many non-believers don’t take the art, music, and literature created by Christians seriously.

The arts influence culture on every level. So why is the church playing it safe? Where are the thought provokers? Where are the artists looking to inspire awe in society at large?

They’re out there, Thank God. Over the past few years there has been an art resurgence in Christian circles.

Scott Erickson is a wonderful example. You can check out his work, and even purchase a T-shirt you won’t be embarrassed to wear from his website. He also talks about his process and inspirations on his blog Creating A Visual Culture. It’s definitely worth your time.

I recently featured Deep Dark Blackness from Jeremy Cowart on [theo]culture (You can watch that here). Jeremy is a well-respected photographer, artist, and humanitarian. Do yourself a favor and visit his website .

These are just two of many incredible artists putting a stamp on the culture, but they are a solid representation.

I have been very careful not to label this Christian art because I don’t believe art has a religious affiliation. Have you ever heard of Atheist or Agnostic art? It’s just art. I think sometimes Christians use this label as a crutch to excuse mediocre work. “Hey, a Christian did it. It’s for Jesus. Support it.” No. The work should speak for itself.

However, I do believe that an artist’s worldview inevitably informs his or her creations. Therefore, Christians should be striving for excellence, for love-centered contributions to humanity. That doesn’t mean you will find the face of Christ in every painting, design, photograph or track. But the heart should be there.

I will also say, there is some pretty terrible art coming from non-Christians as well. It is certainly not an isolated issue. I just want to encourage the church to do better. There is an opportunity to worship God in every aspect of life. Art is definitely no exception.

I would love to get your feedback. What are your thoughts on Christians and art? Do you know of any artists, musicians, writers or actors we should highlight in the future? Join the discussion below.

Photo Credit: Dan Strange (Creative Commons)

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3 responses to “Christians and Bad Art”

  1. brandon curry says :

    On the question, “Why is the church playing it safe?”

    One reason is certainly that we eat our own and the threat of a social penalty is a far greater risk than most will take. All the more reason for work like this to hold the mirror and say, really, is this (what we’re getting now) really so good and sacred that we should honor it and push people to conform to it. I think not. Bring on the experimentation. Let’s not be like the man with a single talent burying it for fear of loss.

    • Anthony Garcia says :

      “We eat our own.” Brandon, that is a really good point. I know I have second guessed my writing (this post for instance) for that same fear. Sad but true. Excellent thought.

  2. Fred says :

    I always thought I was one of the only people in the world that thought certain art made for the Cristian market was just wrong. I have noticed over the past few years some great artists who are Christians. Thanks for this post, glad to know there are others who feel this way. 😀

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