WORDS of LIFE: A Christian resource of Art, Literature, Scripture, and Teaching
The Biblical Charter for Artistic Activity
by Calvin Seerveld
 The Biblical Charter for Artistic Activity, from Rainbows for the Fallen World, by Calvin Seerveld

“no Christ-believer, can or may go it alone in his art or in any cultural activity”

…While not every believer needs to specialize in art, every believer does need to support its ongoing christian production in the twentieth century; otherwise we have been immature and unwise as a communion of saints.  For we are insistently called by the New Testament to grow up from drinking the milk of the gospel to eating the meat of God’s Word. Hebrews tells us to get beyond dogmatic debates about baptismal washings, whose work is ordained or not, when the final judgment will come—debats which paralyze the household of faith from going ahead to do the mature significance of Christ’s high priesthood (Hebrews 5:12-6:12). The Good News of the Lord calls us to be pefect—mature, grown-up, full-orbed—in doing the will of God on earth, because the Lord is perfect, “mature,” full-Creator-orbed, holy (Matthew 5:38-48), and he wants the work of our believing, artistic hands also to be holy so he may establish it.

Such a faith project in christian artistry will never be healthy among us until there is a living sense of christian community, and the misplaced emphasis on “individual” has been corrected.  God has set things up so that cultural endeavour is always a communal enterprise, done by trained men and women in concert, gripped by a spirit that is larger than each one individually and that pulls them together as they do their formative work.  Should a stray Christian who is an artist make it in the big time, and like a christian who is a professional football or base ball player make a testimonial announcement for Jesus Christ, we may praise the Lord; but that is baby action next to the grown-up witness of a christian work community of solid artists, identifiable as people of God, who are able to earn their living from the gifts God have them.  That would be a mature witness to the world of God’s grace.  Production of art will be simply adventitious to the christian faith so long as it is the exhibition of a successful individual’s talented “creativity.”  It becomes a fruit worthy of repentance when it is born out of the support of the whole christian community as its heartfelt “logical service” to the Lord.  If we hope actually to engage people in such artistry as a communal christian ministry, we who believe the Scriptures must start to live the awareness that communion of the saints is larger and more lasting a reality that what takes place within the walls of the institutional church.  We must get the biblical vision that no one, no Christ-believer, can or may go it alone in his art or in any cultural activity.  God did not create us as individual islands in a cosmic sea but made us to be members of his body, as a saintly community busy in the redepmtive reconciliation of the world, each with his or her special foot or hand, eye or ear task (cf. I Corinthians 12:4-31).

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