Faith Ministry

Christian art: Devoted to reality

What defines Christian Art? Lately this genre has illustrated or portrayed the principles of Christianity all the while remaining PG-13. Precious Moments figurines, Veggie Tales DVD’s, and pastoral paintings by Thomas Kinkade may immediately spring to mind. But all that is changing. Although some boundaries help, playing it too safe can stifle creativity. So what can Christian Art do better? And how can we define this genre differently? These are the questions we posed to a group of artists (who also happen to be Christian).

Carlos Antonio Delgado

Carlos Antonio Delgado
Writer Carlos Antonio Delgado
Writer who is influenced by Hermann Hesse

What Defines Christian Art?

To some degree, we can expect artists who identify themselves as Christians to create art in a way different from their non-Christian colleagues. Still, if Christianity is true, then Christianity is Truth, is a true description of God’s creation and His actions within human history.

What Christians are devoted to, then, is not a set of creeds per se, but something much bigger, much deeper, much richer: we are devoted, above all, to Truth; to abiding in the mysteries before us in our journeys; to the world as God made it. Christians, then, are not actually devoted to Christianity, but Reality.

Still, of course, we are not the only folks who claim to have the in on Truth — and this is a great cause of anxiety for many Christians; it has been for centuries. This anxiety is responsible for, among many other horrors, the creation of the category of art called “Christian art.”

We have inherited many bad questions: for artists like John Milton, questions of how to use his Christian art to “justify the ways of God to men.”

We mistake power for love. Rather than abide in the inherent vulnerability all artists are exposed to when they create something new, we instead isolate ourselves from the world, anxiously preserving among ourselves what little power we have left.

Let us remember what William Faulkner said in his speech at the Nobel banquet, that “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself… alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.”

Let us remember that art is not itself the Way: art is only ever at best in conversation with the Way.

More in the series: What defines Christian Art?