The Arts: The Neglected Mode of Sharing the Gospel

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
-Romans 1:19-20

The attributes of God can be found in the everyday beauty of the world. From the sunsets that make you stop what you are doing to gaze at their majestic beauty, to the vibrant colors of fall leaves as they ride the breeze to the ground—all display God’s presence in the world. Faith comes from hearing, but God’s presence is displayed in our vocation, in nature, and the beautiful things of the world.

To get lost in a symphony of sound, hearing how various notes can merge and make a glorious melody, illustrates the beauty in the world. Johann Bach is considered by some to be one of most influential evangelists of the 19th century. Bach was not standing on a corner giving people a laundry list of their sins with a bull horn; he reached millions through the arts. Compositions so great that a secular person could not ignore it. Even after his death, he continues to have an impact today. Anyone who wants to study the greatest musical composers to ever live has to study Bach, and while studying his work they will hear the Gospel!

St. Matthew’s Passion-J.S. Bach:

Read the translation of those words HERE.

It’s not some water-downed vague reference to “a god,” but about Jesus Christ as Lord, as the atonement and as the redemption. All gloriously pronounced through music.

The arts are a powerful tool and a gift given by God—the ability to tell a tale with words that paint a vivid picture or to create a fictional world in a person’s mind that they can escape to. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are two authors who have utilized this art to captivate people. Lewis has engaged millions through his works, The Chronicles of Narnia. My director at work is a former Mormon. She wanted to reach her nieces and nephews with the Gospel, but had to be respectful of her family’s religion. She used the imagery in C.S. Lewis’ stories in an attempt to reveal Christianity truths through the arts.

Mediums, the various means and modes of expression using the arts, have the ability to reach numerous amounts of people. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I only hear the arts’ negativity lambasted. I have to concede that many artistic expressions of the Christian faith do not engage sound doctrine, and the scholars constant dismantling of these projects has led to those with sound perspectives totally avoiding this crucial spectrum.

Make no mistake, I am not saying “being creative causes faith.” What I am saying is, God used a donkey to communicate before, he can use any canvas, music, painting, or medium that he chooses. I have to say thank you to the new generation (Christian rappers, young film students, etc.) who are attempting to use forms of art to express the reality of the one true God. Of course, the scholars will tear you down because it does not sound like them or look like what they are used to. Do not be discouraged. I recall in Acts 17, the apostle Paul used an unexpected tactic to convey the Gospel to the masses. Instead of totally demeaning the pagans for their idolatrous symbols, he used it to point to our Lord:

I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
-Acts 17:23-25

We typically expect a person to say, “Your false gods are not real,” which is one hundred percent true. But the Apostle used a different tactic than what we would expect.

God bless those of you that are engaging the world, no matter what mode of the arts or non-traditional ways you use to point to the one true God. Bach reached millions through the arts, C.S. Lewis has reached millions, and there are millions that still need to be reached.

Peace, mercy, and grace to you.

For additional reading on Bach and the Gospel read:

Bach and Japan: How Beauty Serves the Truth of the Gospel


Photo by Joe Parks via Flickr

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