The Artist’s Call
“At the heart of Christian humanism is the effort to achieve a new synthesis between the condition of the world around us and the unique ways in which grace can speak to that condition. That is how art created by Christians will touch the lives of those who encounter it.”
This year I’ve been reading a lot of books. My favorite non-fiction subjects are faith, art, and the convergence. In my readings I’ve noticed a trend. I am a global-thinker after all. The trend is that a good many Christian authors are calling upon God’s artists to rise up and make a culture changing difference in this hour, in this season.
Here are five titles I’ve read on Faith & Art which populate my Artist’s Desk Library. First up is a master classic by Dr. Calvin Seerveld; arts advocate / former professor of philosophy & literature, Institute of Christian Studies, Toronto. His book, Rainbows for a Fallen World. Seerveld is definitely a weighty read but he’s adamant in his call to God’s artists to take their gifting extremely seriously.
“I believe that my Lord wants us as his people to be busy in the birth of a culture – in daily, long-range cultural obedience – as an ordained way to spread the Good News of his rule.”
Secondly, there’s cultural commentator / pastor / author Dick Staub whose Culturally Savvy Christian has a chapter specifically calling God’s artists to take their gifts very seriously and make a difference in American culture.
“I believe that cultural enrichers from the arts are the best hope for transforming today’s popular culture. The restoration of the artistic endeavor is as close to God’s heart as redemption, because it is evidence of that redemption.”
Next up is artist / composer-musician / author Manuel Luz and his book, Imagine That. He joins other voices calling God’s artists to realize the power of their God-given gifts and to use them to Father’s glory.
“We, as artists who follow Christ, need to tell our story, render our personal expressions of redemption to the world. And tell them with artistry and beauty and grace. And in doing so, we hint at the grander story of God.”
Next is artist / author / speaker Matt Tommey and his compassionate, encouraging work, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.
“You were created to co-labor with Christ in the Kingdom of God through your unique creative expression. You were created to reflect, reveal, and release the Glory of God in the earth through your art.”
And last in this grouping, Christ (like wrist) Otto’s clarion call; An Army Arising: Why Artists are on the Frontline of the Next Move of God. Like all of these authors, Otto sets a very serious tone for God’s artists, strongly encouraging a deep, personal, relationship with Father God as the vital foundation of an effective arts practice in the service of the Lord.
“Jesus [is] working as an artisan; and he is also raising up the artisan. These ones who have seemed to have no value in the world system, are now being called as the end time secret weapon. This is the moment for the artist to arise. This is the moment for the artist to make a way. This is the moment for the artist to be the sermon.”
Combined, regardless of each author’s emphasis, these five writers are calling God’s artists to get on with making culturally influential, God glorifying, top quality work, regardless of the media used; dance & movement, writing, collage / mixed-media, painting, theatre, or music, for example. All five are adamant about excellence and decry the overwhelming flood of sloppy, embarrassingly bad work labeled “Christian Art.” And all five writers stress, in no uncertain terms, that the effectiveness and quality of the work is directly proportional to the depth and intimacy of the artist’s relationship with God Himself.
From many quarters I am hearing and reading about a New Renaissance. What that looks like or actually means is anybody’s guess, but when these five writers are motivated by the Spirit of God to write such deeply serious calls to God’s artists, I figure we ought to listen up and heed the call. The Holy Spirit is calling us to action. As Calvin Seerveld wrote, “God forbid that any of the little believing ones should be caught stumbled or napping when He returns, with their talent of aesthetic life tucked away, wrapped up in a hole in the ground.” pg 48 / Rainbows / Seerveld.
Please allow me to add my own voice to the call of these, and many other, artists and authors; Our gifts are God-given and blood-bought. We have a divine purpose. The Master has endowed us, entrusted to us, the responsibility to take up our pens, our brushes, and cameras and create works of the highest quality in whatever way the Spirit leads us. We’re unique in how we see the world, and uniquely equipped and empowered to make seen the unseen mysteries of our faith in our Creator God who loves each of us so very much.