Francis Schaeffer was a liberating influence on me when I was a young believer attempting to take my first faltering steps in Faith in a world that sometimes seemed so hostile to the notion of Christian morality and practise. Schaeffer argued from a philosophical standpoint that because Christianity was intrinsically true it was robust enough to take hard questions about itself as well as asking any question about the world around it. He was also a great proponent of the Arts and an enthusiastic advocate of believers becoming involved in creative processes that reflect the glory and majesty of the created universe. Much of what he had to say went over my head but it was the sense that he was freely discussing what very few other Christian teachers would that was such a powerful influence. For Schaeffer redemption did not just apply to the individuals inner soul but there was the potential in Christ’s redeeming death that everything would ultimately be brought back into a pre-Fall harmony. From L’Abri in Switzerland where he set up a retreat centre to explore these topics Francis Schaeffer influenced a whole generation of believers towards a more holistic expression of their faith in the arts and in public debate. As well as his philosophical and artistic insights he also spoke passionately on the ethical arguments against abortion and euthanasia. He died aged 72 in 1984 ~GOSh.~
LORD OF THE ARTS
Christianity is not just "dogmatically" true or "doctrinally" true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life.
The ancients were afraid that if they went to the end of the earth, they would fall off and be consumed by dragons. But once we understand that Christianity is true to what is there, including true to the ultimate environment -- the infinite, personal God who is really there -- then our minds are freed. We can pursue any question and can be sure that we will not fall off the end of the earth. Such an attitude will give our Christianity a strength that is often does not seem to have at the present time.
But there is another side to the Lordship of Christ, and this involves the total culture -- including the area of creativity. Again, evangelical or biblical Christianity has been weak at this point. About all that we have produced is a very romantic Sunday school art.
We do not seem to understand that the arts too are supposed to be under the Lordship of Christ.
I have frequently quoted a statement from Francis Bacon, who was one of the first of the modern scientists and who believed in the uniformity of natural causes in an open system. He, along with other men like Copernicus and Galileo, believed that because the world had been created by a reasonable God, they could therefore pursue the truth concerning the universe by reason. There is much, of course, in Francis Bacon with which I would disagree, but one of the statements which I love to quote is this: "Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences." How I wish that evangelical Christians in the United States and Britain and across the world had had this vision for the last fifty years!
The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life -- they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God -- not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. And art work can be a doxology in itself.