This passage from Clyde Kilby’s essay on “The Aesthetic Poverty of Evangelicalism” is as damning an indictment of modern Christian “art” as you’re likely to read. I love it.
There is a simplicity which diminishes and a simplicity which enlarges, and evangelicals have too often chosen the wrong one. The first is that of the cliche – simplicity with mind and heart removed. The other is that of art. The first falsifies by its exclusions; the second encompasses. The first silently denies the multiplicity and grandeur of creation, salvation, and indeed all things. The second symbolizes and celebrates them. The first tries to take the danger out of Christianity and with the danger often removes the actuality. The second suggests the creative and sovereign God of the universe with whom there are no impossibilities. The contrast suggests that not to imagine is what is sinful. The symbol, the figure, the image, the parable – in short, the artistic method – so pungent in the Lord’s teaching and acting, are often noteworthy for their absence in ours. Is this not a case of humanism far more reprehensible than the sort of humanism we often decry?
Our excuse for our esthetic failure has often been that we must be about the Lord’s business, the assumption being that the Lord’s business is never esthetic.