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Can a Christian Be an Artist?

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As a professional visual artist and an instructor, I have been asked several times over the years, “can a Christian even be an ‘artist’ in the age we live in?” I mean, after all, for visual artists, the “art world” has become so secularized and pervaded by post-modern ideology, so polluted with humanism and nihilism, that many younger, budding artists who hold their Christian faith precious above all else, can see no way to reconcile the two. The art world has become daunting in its darkness. Yet, all artists must understand that first and foremost, it is He who calls us, as Christians, to be artists and not the world; God also calls us to shatter that misconception that Christians and the arts are incompatible.

There are a few things to keep in mind when a person feels conflicted about being both an artist and a Christian, about faith and its interconnectivity to art.  First, a Christian artist is to live out their faith through their art, whatever discipline(s) that may be.  We act within the structure of our reality – that is, we are placed here, in this precise time, by our Lord to realize the possibilities He has given us, and to act within this moment.  The big point to remember: we are called to be salt and light to others.  Artistic creativity is one of many inspired possibilities that we can embrace and employ to share the Good News of new resurrection life in Christ.  Even in a dark world, we must be light to the unsaved.

Art is a universal language that can create dialogue and build a bridge between Christians and the broken world.

We can build these bridges with beauty, joy, love, and truth – all gifts from our Lord, as expressed in our artwork, and outreach to others. Good art, even when approaching ugly or sensitive subject matter, can and should be honoring to God, and will express truth, which is intrinsically linked with beauty, joy, and love.  This creation can be used for outreach, worship, and building relationships.  Art is ultimately an interpretation of current reality, of things seen, emotionally and physically experienced, and of spiritual longing. Art is a statement of creative ideas and imaginative concepts, but good art is always ultimately rooted in truth — and our Lord is the Universal Truth.  He is Truth. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We are likewise commanded to express truth in our lives, and by extension, through our gifts and our art: Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)

As artists, we express what is relevant to us, as well as to our society – what we have embraced, both individually and collectively, and what we have observed or struggled with, in the structures of the time and culture we live in. We tread a fine line in this expression of truth; we do not look to be “so heavenly” that we are of no earthly good, yet, we do not need to be brutal, hideous, or depraved in our expression of even the most tragic of subject matter.  We can find powerful and beautiful ways of handling our subject matter, that retains its relevance and continues to be honoring to God.

Art is not merely decorative or “in the moment”, so we have tremendous potential to impact not only the immediate culture but also to make a historical statement for future generations.  This truth is another important reason why Christians should never exclude themselves from the arts or the cultural conversation surrounding it – we are looking to impact future generations of Christians and potential believers. We are obligated to reach out now and be mindful of what is to come – what legacy will be left for our children and their children?  Art will be a part of that legacy, whether we as Christians engage in it or not.

Ultimately, God created the impulse for humans to create and enjoy art, and He thought art was good, which is why he gave it as one of His many gifts to mankind.

We live in a fallen world, and until Christ returns, that is the structure of reality we exist in as humankind.  We are saved by grace. But, as Christian artists, we can be salt and light to a dying world, using our God-given talents to bring hope, understanding, and the opportunity for a new life born-again through Jesus to those who are hurting and seeking.  Our artwork is ultimately our ministry. It can be woven fully into our Kingdom work to bring a harvest of souls!

So, whenever you feel that nagging feeling of doubt within your own work or you are asked by a young, aspiring artist whether or not Christianity and art are compatible, be confident to state, “Yes! Absolutely!” and feel at peace with that sentiment.  The Lord calls you to minister where your gifts are, and bloom within the talents that He specifically chose and gifted you with. Take that beautiful creativity and bring honor and glory to the loving Creator who blessed you with that ability.  Reclaim the darkness in the arts by planting your flag for Christ!

Stay faithful, stay focused, and stay creative!

Hilary J. England

Hilary is the Founder and Lead Artist of Healing Hearts Thru Art, a ministry that supports bereaved parents with a portrait gift and the love of Christ, and is also a professional portrait artist and author.

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  • Fay Montgomery says:

    Thank you Hilary for the work of passion that you do for others
    God bless you Fay

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