Seriousness of The Arts As They Relate To Faith

In an era where the arts are either popularized for the sake of financial gain or intellectualized to the point where they are no longer accessible to the general public, it is important that the church develop a proper approach to the use of the arts in worship. The Orthodox have much to teach in this area. The priestly role of the artist in Eastern churches establishes both a level of respect for those who paint as well as a significant level of accountability. In the West, it is often assumed that “artsy” people will be emotionally unstable and theologically weak. In a very real sense, this attitude has contributed to its reality – many of them fit the description. However, the priestly conception of the artist assumes significant spiritual maturity and commitment to contemplation. This kind of accountability of the artist raises the standard and expectation about lifestyle and spirituality. Evangelical churches can do this. Rather than consider spiritual maturity only important for those who deal with words, the expectation should be extended to those who deal with any kind of image.202 In other words, the artist (including the musician) should have the same level of accountability as the preacher. This is consistent with Orthodox ideology and is essential for the appropriate use of image in evangelical post-modernity.

It is possible that a key outcome of a renewed seriousness about the priestly nature of the artist is that there will also be a renewed interest in a different kind of training for the arts in the church. In most of past evangelicalism, training in the arts has focused on skill rather than a pastoral and theological emphasis. In this way, the artist has been seen as a less significant contributor to those who handle words. However, if the approach to artistic training has more to do with theology and spirituality but includes technique and skill, it is possible that artists will have the potential to take their place as priest in the body of Christ.