We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christian Sentimentalism

...[A] work of art may be solidly biblical in content, yet have little or no artistic merit.  Christians should not allow themselves to develop sloppy aesthetic judgment by accepting low-quality religious kitsch just because they agree with the message.  When I was growing up, the typical religious art exhibited a saccharine Victorian sentimentalism.
What makes this sentimentalized art and music so insipid? It equates Christianity with sugar and spice and everything nice.  The poet Paul Claudel pilloried the sweet-and-light style by asking, "If the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  With sugar!"

When generations of children are nourished on these sugary images, they lose a sense of Jesus' true character.  In the words of Dorothy Sayers, "We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah," turning Jesus "into a household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies."  Yet in the first century, this so-called "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" was so adamant and inflammatory "that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and public danger."  How will the church portray that Jesus in its art?

Today's parallel to Victorianism would include praise music that mirrors the vapid emotionalism and egocentrism of pop culture.  I once visited a church where I was startled to hear the congregation sing lines like "You are my all desire," and "I want to feel the warmth of your embrace."  The lyrics made no mention of God or Jesus.  No reference to salvation or justification or any other theological theme.  Nothing to suggest that the song was anything but a love song to someone's girlfriend.  The lyrics were such an extreme example of the Jesus-is-my-girlfriend genre that I wondered how any man could sing it with a straight face -- though as I looked around the room, I saw several men with their eyes closed, arms raised.

Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning, p.270-271.


ali said...

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. NOT..!!..

All too often the Righteous Judge, the Lion of the Trube of Judah, King of kings and LORD of lords is missing.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images. Exodus 20:4

I think this post makes an excellent case for upholding the literal letter of that law because people tend to visualize the Jesus they see in pictures and then they create a false picture of Him in their minds. Pretty soon they are worshipping a God (Jesus) of their own imagination.

Anonymous said...

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the very Word of God. We walk not by sight.....

Seems Christians here in this country need visuals of some sort as reassurance to their faith....and yet, the New Testament Church needed none of these things. How many churches here in America have "pictures" of a jesus like figure that was and is NOT the Jesus of our Scriptures and the people love them so.