Just when I thought we’d made some progress in this area, my posts about the movie Noah have brought back the venom. It’s fascinating to me that God chose to introduce Himself to us in the first chapter of Genesis as a “creator.” But even though we are made in his image, so many Christians literally fear creativity. Pastor, filmmaker, and author or The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus says, “Fear is the shadow of creativity.” For so many, we grow up and exchange our God-given creativity for what we think are discipline and maturity. We assume that God is weak and desperately needs us to police other people’s theology and doctrine. We spend our time as “theology cops” for everyone else rather than creators in the image of God.
When that happens, every creative act must end in an altar call. Every filmmaker, writer, musician or other artist must live a perfect life or they can’t be published, distributed, or funded. If there’s no ROI, then it shouldn’t be done. But that’s such a far cry from the artists, designers, and craftsmen Solomon hired to create Israel’s temple. And look at God’s view of musicians – He thought so highly of them that in ancient Israel, they led His armies into Battle! God has called artists just as He’s called pastors, evangelists, teachers, and others. To diminish that calling is to cripple the Body of Christ and to fall short of what the Church is called to become. But we have to remember that it’s not the same job as pastors, evangelists, or teachers.
Novelist Flannery O’Connor said it well: “Saint Thomas Aquinas says that art does not require rectitude of the appetite, that it is wholly concerned with the good of that which is made. He says that a work of art is good in itself, & this is a truth that the modern world has largely forgotten. We are not content to stay within our limitations & make something that is simply a good in & of itself. Now we want to make something that will have some utilitarian value. Yet what is good in itself glorifies God because it reflects God. The artist has his hands full & does his duty if he attends to his art. He can safely leave evangelizing to the evangelists.”
I serve a mighty and powerful God who revels in the imagination and creativity of artists working in His service. Rather than criticizing and condemning their efforts – or worse – forcing them into a box with limitations – perhaps it’s time to take God’s view – let them run with the vision, and see what happens.