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Christian Music As an Art Form
By Chris MacIntosh
For the majority of those who listen to what is commonly called contemporary Christian music, it is a place to be spiritually fed or uplifted and sometimes although not very often challenged. It is very seldom looked upon as a place of creative art and even less as a place to seek after artistic beauty. This is a shame because there are a great many artists who hold to a biblical world view who are creating wonderful pieces of amazing art not only in the field of music but in all of the arts as well. As I sit here writing this piece I am listening to an album by a bass player from Sulfur, Louisiana named Trip Wamsley. Trip's music is primarily solo instrumental pieces performed on various bass guitars. It is not evangelistic in nature at all but yet it wonderfully conveys the beauty of the gift giving creator of art.
St. Francis Of Assisi once said," Preach the gospel and if necessary use words". How can you preach the gospel without words, very simply by living a life pleasing to the God whose image we were created in. As an artist whether it be a musician, poet, painter, actor, novelist or whatever, we need to seek to emulate the excellence that we see our Father in heaven showing us in his everyday creations. Walk down the block just before a thunder storm and watch the sky change from bright blue to a stormy darkness. Sit on the beach at sunset and listen to the roar of the ocean as the tide comes constantly in and out never ceasing to perform its unending song. Go to a museum and gaze at some of the beauty created by men and women gifted in the arts or better still visit someday an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and be absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer elegance of works created to display the magnificence and awe of God.
Going back to the original thought of music by artists who are Christians, there are basically two types of Christian music, by that I don't mean genres. I am speaking of that which reflects the light of God and that which shows us the world that we live in as reflected from the light of God. Most CCM tends to show us a world that does not as of yet exist. It paints a picture of a world with no pain, no suffering, no heartache. That world will someday exist, once the Lord Jesus returns to rule in triumph and glory, but that day is not yet. We live in a world filled with pain and hurt and despair and to ignore those aspects of our existence is to lie to ourselves and to those around us. Musicians such as Bill Mallonee, The 77's, the late Mark Heard and others have at various times chosen to express the hurt that they feel through music and have given us brilliant and honest pieces of music to be challenged and stimulated by.
There are others in the music field whose music has lifted me to heights of peace, of such exquisite beauty that it makes me want to weep with joy. Men such as Jeff Johnson or the band Iona make music that is at once exhilarating as well as challenging. The most recent release, as of this writing, by the band Glass Hammer called "The Inconsolable Secret" is nothing short of brilliant both musically and lyrically. Yet you will never hear it played on any "Christian" radio station because it just doesn't fit into the accepted mold. Recently the band Caedmon's Call was told by their record company to change the chorus of one of their tunes, the reason was that it contained the word "sad" in it and that would never get air play on a CCM station. We need to break out of the cookie cutter world of mediocre art that the CCM industry has created and seek after and if we are artists create art that is thought provoking, honest, brutal and beautiful.  Only then can we look at ourselves as sub-creators reflecting the creativity of the true creator of all true art. Below is a very partial list of works by artists who are Christians in various forms of media you might care to check out.
Music: anything by, Glass Hammer, Jeff Johnson, Lost Dogs, Iona, Steve Lawson
Films: Spider Man 2, The Patriot, Hellboy, Braveheart.
Novels: anything by Dorothy Sayers, any of the Inklings, Stephen Lawhead, Robert Don Hughes.
Enjoy and revel in excellence!!!                             


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