Larry Norman was arguably the first Christian rock musician. His album, “Upon This Rock,” released by Capitol Records in 1969, is considered to be the first Christian rock album. In a later album, he released a song entitled, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” Whether or not you like the song, the question is fantastic.
It is of course an overstatement to ask why the devil has all the good music given the deep Christian faith of Bach (and many other fine Christian musicians throughout the ages), but it often seems as if we go through long seasons of history where Christians are not very creative, whether in music, painting, sculpture or the other arts. Given that there are probably always Christians who are very creative, maybe it is better to say that we go through long seasons where Christians are at best indifferent to the arts and creativity, and at worst, hostile.
Our summer sermon series is entitled “Knowing the Triune God.” On August 8, we will think about the truth that the Triune God is the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. So, in light of this, here are five points about the Christian faith and creativity.
First, the Triune God created all that exists out of nothing, and then He said that it was good, in fact, very good (Genesis 1).
This biblical truth is revolutionary. The universe and the world are not an illusion, an accident, a tragedy, or due to blind and indifferent chance. We do not inhabit a “prison” that we need to escape. The invisible (spirit/mind/soul) is not the really real, while the physical is problematic. No, the true and living God made the visible and the invisible equally.
The true and living God was not forced or compelled to make. He did not give birth to all that is. He did not make, because of loneliness or need. He did not make, because He needed food or slaves. Out of the overflowing love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, He created. The true and living God is a Creator.
Second, the Triune God created male and female, man and woman, in His image.
This means many things, but for our purpose right now, it means that He created human beings to be creative creators. When He commanded human beings to exercise dominion, to flourish and fill the earth, you see that human creativity is not only part of our nature, but also our vocation or office.
Out of all the world’s spiritualities and religions, philosophies and ideologies, none provide such a deep and thick grounding for human dignity and creativity as does the Bible. None.
Third, you are a sub-creator under the Creator.
Sometimes Christians think of themselves as “co-creators” with God. This is a good expression only if it is combined with the biblical truth that all good and perfect things come from Him, and that of His own have you given Him. Divorced from that idea, the expression can lead you into thinking that you are equal with God.
This idea, to be equal, and even the most important partner in a partnership with God, is in fact a recurrence of the belief that is the source of evil in what was God’s original and good creation. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, and acted on this desire, and the result was the Fall. (Genesis 3). God created all things out of nothing. You create under Him, in the world that He created and sustains. You are a sub-creator, under Him.
Fourth, creativity is a great good, but not an absolute good.
Ottawa can have some spectacular days. Sometimes when I am chatting with a non-Christian friend on a spectacular day, I will say that a day like today makes it easier to believe in heaven. When you experience great creativity in stunning art, no matter what the religion or philosophy of the artist, it makes it easier to believe in heaven.
So there is a sense that creativity for the glory of God and human flourishing is a great good. It is part of the Triune God’s common grace. But creativity is not an absolute good. It is lamentably true that creativity can be used for great evil, lies and blasphemy. But be of good cheer, the bad use of a good thing should not lead you to “non-use” but to “good-use.”
Fifth, grace perfects nature, it does not erase it.
When the Lord saved you and made you His child by adoption and grace He did not strip you of all creativity. Christians are not more creative than others, but we are not less creative. It is true that all human beings are creative. But it is also true that in the arts, some are far more creative than others.
If the Lord has blessed you with salvation, and He has blessed you with creativity, do not fear that gift. Within His overall call upon your life, develop your creativity, and under Him, create to the glory of the Triune God and true human flourishing.