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Denny Wayman

Why some Christians reject the Arts

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I just read Jonathan Rice's article in the Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal 29:2-29:3. It is excellent and worthy of conversation. It explores a book by Ian Bradley entitled: The Call to Seriousness: The Evangelical Impact on the Victorians.

His thesis is that the British evangelicals who

ended the English slave trade, abolished sati (widow burning) and infant sacrifice in India, banned child labor and other related abuses in England, started the world's first animal welfare organizations (The RSPCA, which banned the torture of animals for sport), rehabilitated prostitutes, reformed the Parliament, brought education and relief to the destitutes of England and brought about prison and lunatic asylum reforms, just to mention a few....[these] history-making Christians lost their children and grandchildren to agnosticism or atheism.

He then suggests why:

British Evangelicalism's most serious weakness: anti-intellectualism. It comes forth in the many accounts of their petty legalism and sometimes pharisaic separatism...and how they forbade their members to read "secular" novels or to enjoy "secular" art and music (Mozart and Beethoven were completely out!). In short, they grew out of touch with the society around them, running from it rather than facing its challenges.

Their intellectual weakness becomes even more pronounced in their understanding of what they termed "practical religion." True spirituality, they believed, did not involve entering the marketplace of ideas. They didn't think it worth their while to intelligently engage the skeptics, hostile biblical critics, agnostics, and atheistic philosophers of their day. Instead, they claimed, God had called them to an exclusively practical faith: to send forth missionaries, to help the poor and downtrodden, and to better peoples' manners. These were the things pleasing to God, not intellectual debate or true apologetics.

He compares this to the pre-Enlightenment Christian:

The pre-Enlightenment Reformation-era Christians had a biblical worldview that allowed them to see every aspect of life (including art, culture, etc.) as belonging to God. Therefore they could think in a non-compartmentalized manner and be active in all these areas. This caused them to be on the cutting edge of society, true world history makers.

Noting that the generation of John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were both highly educated intellectuals AND deeply committed revivalist, the dichotomy of emotion from intellect and scholarship from Christian living has emptied the minds and pens of evangelicals in a way that has left us impotent to speak into the arts.

He says

The intellectual and the mystical were divorced and the Church often divided right along these lines. Theological liberalism became the rational, "respectable pole' of the Enlightenment-era church, rejecting the supernatural and deifying the human intellect. The pietistic traditions (which under the general definition includes much of Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism) often embraced the spiritual at the expense of the intellectual. Both sides saw the other as either evil or shameful. The intellectual was at war with the spiritual, and as many thinkers now point out, both Liberalism and Fundamentalism were equally products (opposing poles) of the European Enlightenment.

Looking at the pietism that shifts our faith inward, in a "rather anthropocentric" faith he says:

Pietism shifted the focus inward, and in this sense was rather anthropocentric: a religion focused more upon people's own experiences rather than on God. More than looking at God or the world, the pietist looked within...All branches of popular American Christianity are pietistic in that their central focus is upon the believer's own life and spiritual performance. For American cultural Christians, the emphasis is upon themselves and who God can be in their lives (rather than who they can be in God's redemptive history). Just as many people have personal bankers, personal trainers, and now even "personal blenders," they have also made Jesus into their "personal savior" --a term appearing neither in the New Testament nor in Church history.

I would raise several questions and begin with my thoughts:

1. Were you encouraged to engage the arts by your upbringing in the church? If so what branch of the church was your womb?

In my childhood congregations I would clearly come from what Rice calls a "revivalist" or "camp-meeting" Christianity that put emphasis on getting people to heaven rather than changing the culture. However, I not only rebelled against this, but when I went to one of our Free Methodist colleges and met the larger Wesleyan worldview, I was encouraged to engage the world and have spent 30 years of ministry doing so - and have found companions from many other traditions who have joined me in that - including when I did my doctoral work at Fuller and made film criticism part of my work in my pastoral counseling training.

But, having said that, I would say that the other writers in the Faith and Film Critics Circle, and the people who post on this board have enriched me. I've always known this work is important, but I am increasingly convinced that we are doing something here that has profound cultural AND eternal significance.

2. What was it in your own life that first grabbed you about the art of film? Was it the art form itself or the connection it made with you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually...? Both - does a poor quality film get in your way spiritually just as it does aesthetically? Is that because you have integrated your faith with art and cannot separate the two? Do you think that is true for everyone?

For me I can separate the content from the art and enjoy each separately. But to be truly moved my soul must be able to join my mind and aesthetic sensitivities. That's not to say I can't be manipulated by a film, but for it to be a welcomed addition to the landscape of my life I need all of it to come together. I don't think that is true for everyone.

I also realize that films which spoke to me early in life spoke because of their authenticity and I see them now as part of my journey, but thankfully not where I remained. I'm thinking specifically of films like Easy Rider, and Cabaret.

3. The separation of secular and sacred is such a part of evangelical life that when a person in the arts speaks out about their faith and weaves it into their work, it is sometimes surprising. Do you live with this dichotomous world, or are you integrated?

I have to admit that I struggle with this. But I am increasingly unwilling in film, music, art or literature to accept poor-quality, or even middle-quality work just because it has a Christian message or purpose. I am attempting to be integrated. I note that we often err on one side or the other, accepting artistic genius that is obscene or profane on the one hand, or accepting Christian purpose that is dull and negating on the other.

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman

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1. Were you encouraged to engage the arts by your upbringing in the church? If so what branch of the church was your womb?

Although a lot of my family is Mennonite in ancestry, I grew up your fairly standard fundamentalist evangelical. The churches I grew up in were fairly middle-of-the-road when it came to the arts. Folks certainly watched movies, but they were primarily seen as just entertainment. The only films, it seemed, that carried any legitimate message were strictly religious films, i.e. those Billy Graham Crusades films. My parents would take my brother and I to movies every so often, and not just "acceptable" ones; one of my fondest childhood memories is when my dad took me out of school early to go see Top Gun (I was a huge military airplan geek at the time, and wanted to be a fighter pilot when I grew up). But like I said, movies were never really considered to be something worth studying or taking seriously. Unless, that is, they were objectionable or needed protesting.

2. What was it in your own life that first grabbed you about the art of film? Was it the art form itself or the connection it made with you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually...? Both - does a poor quality film get in your way spiritually just as it does aesthetically? Is that because you have integrated your faith with art and cannot separate the two? Do you think that is true for everyone?

I can't really think of anything in particular that started me thinking about the spirituality of film, and art in general. I suppose it would probably have started in high school, when I began to see some of the hypocrisy of my youth group friends concerning music.

I went through a very dark time in high school, and as such, I began listening to a lot of "darker" music, both by Christian and non-Christian artists. It felt much more honest and real to me, and I remember getting some flak every now and then because I saw no point in listening to music that wasn't congruent with what I was going through. To do so seemed dishonest and silly.

At the same time, I began developing friendships at school with many non-Christians, which had the side effect of exposing me to more art, first music, and later film. It was a very exhilirating time for me, and again, opened my eyes to the cultural ghetto that I'd been living in. I began to see that a lot of this stuff wasn't "evil" per se, though I'll admit I was probably exposed to some less-than-admirable movies as well. In fact, it was much more artistic, provocative, intelligent, and well-made than anything I saw in Christian circles.

Later, in college, I took a film history class on a bit of a lark. That, I suppose, is what really sealed the deal. Seeing films by the likes of Bergman, Cocteau, Lang, etc. was yet another eye-opening experience for me.

In response to the second part of your question, I've recently realized that poor quality films really do bother me. Which is interesting, because I have a deep fondness for B and "cult" movies, many of which are poorly crafted on many levels. I still haven't worked all that out, but yes, I have noticed that quality (which is admittedly a very amorphous concept) has become much more important to me over the past few years. And I blame many of the folks here for this... ;)

3. The separation of secular and sacred is such a part of evangelical life that when a person in the arts speaks out about their faith and weaves it into their work, it is sometimes surprising. Do you live with this dichotomous world, or are you integrated?

As Alan said, I'm nowhere close to the level towards which I aspire. When I do see it, however, it's very inspiring. It's one of the reasons why I began running Opus (my website) in the first place, to help me figure this all out for myself while hopefully exposing others to music, films, etc. that I've found intriguing, provocative, and worth experiencing.

Solid thread, Denny, and I look forward to the responses from others.

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Interesting questions, though I wonder if we could expand this to focus on the other arts?

Absolutely, I didn't intend to limit it. I'm just far more interested in film, personally, than music or visual arts.

Denny

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My nominal Presbyterian parent's encouraged my gift in art. They just didn't want me to try to make a living at it. There were no spiritual qualms about painting from there perspective.

I became involved with a nondenominational charismatic group when I was a junior in high school. I had a self imposed crisis, unsure if it was a valid path to become an artist. At a bookstore in the mall I was perusing the art books and opened up a book on Salvador Dali to his painting of John of the Cross. In true charismatic fashion the Lord "spoke to my heart" and assured me that it was a good thing for me to become an artist. I never looked back. (It was many years latter I realized that the John Dali was referring to wasn't John the evangelist but John who wrote "Dark Night of the Soul" and had a vision of Jesus from that particular angle) The group I was associated with encouraged me by hanging my paintings in their meeting space and letting me paint murals on their walls as well as draw for the street evangelizing newspaper.

I have always loved looking at art and when I was in graduate school I spent hours looking at art books in the library. Without realizing it I was looking at the history of the church and western civilization by following the development of painting. Upon return to Austin from graduate school I began hanging out with the remnant of the charismatic group who had become Episcopalians. I eventually joined up and used my talent to augment the service books we used to sing the mass.

My continued study of art history eventually led me to a Catholic understanding of the faith. As Cardinal Henry Newman observed: "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant."

I always had a sense of the notion that "grace builds on nature". So I read widely, looked at all kinds of movies, listened to all kinds of music and God spoke to me in much of it. So while being aware of the sacred and profane dichotomy I don't think I have ever given in to it. I have found a way to paint religious paintings without using religious imagery. If you have sacred eyes you can see the religious meaning. If you you don't you merely see a contemporary painting.

The University of Texas campus used to have a great film program at the student union and the Varsity theatre used to show every weird and offbeat movie that came down the pipe. On of the most grace filled, serendipitous film moments of my life was a chance meeting of about 10 people, all friends who happened to go see "My Dinner with Andre" at the same time. We sat outside afterwards and talked about that movie for hours.

While I have fulfilled my parents wishes (never making a living from my art) I have never felt the tensions within the church concerning my vocation to be a painter.

Edited by Jim Janknegt

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I hate to be the spoilsport on this thread, but I don't quite buy this guy's church historical argument for a few reasons. It may be just the article, but it seems that Bradley is making a few broad historical distinctions that are borderline revisionist in tone. He is in good company, as many of these points have already been made by "emergent" church and related literature, but as this theological fad passes so will many of these historical distinctions that are currently in vogue. And I wonder if we do ourselves a disservice by thinking of the abandonment of the arts solely as a church problem. It tends to forget the awkward phases in art history like early American abstraction, and the later pop-arts that reflect an "abandonment of the arts" in general culture. Maybe it this isn't just a "church" issue after all, but a broader one shared by cultural history. (rant over, my apologies).

Now I need to get around to answering your good questions!

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MLeary and Nardis,

Excellent points. No, in the article he does not talk about social class and that would be an additional dynamic to this phenomenon. I haven't read the book he is using as his fuel so I can't answer the question of whether that author has some kind of anti-Victorian slant.

Though I find class to be a powerful descriptor of behavior (raised in an evangelical lower middleclass childhood and pastoring in an evangelical upper middleclass to upper class congregation), I would not agree with dismissing the thesis only on that account. I do believe there is a significant theological basis for those who accept and reject the arts. It could be argued it has to do with focus or purpose, but I think it is more of a worldview.

Denny

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To add to MLeary's post, I can't help but wonder about the background of the Brits per the quotes in Denny's opening post. I'm just guessing here, but it does seem as if social class would have played a *huge* part in this, re. those who were well-educated (primarily members of the upper class) and had been exposed to the arts, vs. those who were from "lower" social classes and had had little or no exposure to these things. Poor people don't have the money or leisure to indulge in the arts in the way that more moneyed people do, and I'm sure there's also class prejudice at work here re. the arts being the province of (mostly) the idle rich. (I'm not taking into account the notion - and reality - of artisans/skilled craftsmen here, though.)

I don't know a lot about European history in this regard, much less about Great Britain specifically, 19th century or otherwise. However, I have just returned from a European tour with the dance company I work for these days. Art in Europe seems hard to avoid regardless of what you can or can't afford. I would think this social schism of art exposure is more prevalent today than it was then, and primarily in the U.S. This may simply be more of a 20th century thing, I guess.

I remember hearing how Shakespeare often inculded scenes that had more direct appeal to the lower class (such as the opening to Othello) which seems to indicate at least some level of exposure to the arts by lower class. After all, weren't the arts pretty much their only form of "T.V." or "radio"? I mean, who would sit through a full 4 hour play today? And good grief, the churches in Europe! Oi vey! Makes me VERY sad to compare those to most churches here in America.

What little I know of the idle rich of that time, seems to me affluence would be as much flaunted to the poor as it may have been about out doing other affluents.

But this is just conjecture on my part and some questions I would ask.

Joe Futral

Edited by jfutral

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I would raise several questions and begin with my thoughts:

1. Were you encouraged to engage the arts by your upbringing in the church? If so what branch of the church was your womb?

2. What was it in your own life that first grabbed you about the art of film? Was it the art form itself or the connection it made with you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually...? Both - does a poor quality film get in your way spiritually just as it does aesthetically? Is that because you have integrated your faith with art and cannot separate the two? Do you think that is true for everyone?

3. The separation of secular and sacred is such a part of evangelical life that when a person in the arts speaks out about their faith and weaves it into their work, it is sometimes surprising. Do you live with this dichotomous world, or are you integrated?

Denny

I really think God used my laziness regarding going to church regularly to shield me from much of this negativity towards the arts. I was always active in art and never really thought much about it in regards to my faith. But then I was never really confronted by other Christians about using art for propaganda or not at all.

When I decided to get into theatre and lighting, it was just simply my career choice. It had nothing to do with being or not being a Christian. I remember talking to my brother on the phone (who is a Christian) and saying "I think I found what I am going to do with the rest of my life." he was very encouraging.

My mother was very much into music as is my brother. She tried to teach me piano (I failed miserably) and she was always singing with my brother. So that was my princile exposure to the arts.

I started out Baptist because of my (southern) father. Then later we became Presbyterian because of my (Korean) mother.

I didn't really find out how "evil" all this was until I decided to become a responsible adult and father and become an active part of a local church body many years later.

My struggle hasn't been so much internal, regarding intergrating secular and sacred. It has mostly been figuring out how to deal with my fellow believers in this regard. The seperation makes it very difficult to engage in dialogue, not just from the point of attitudes, but also in terminology.

I do have an internal struggle or two regarding faith and art, though. I work and have worked with many top level performing groups and artists. I find it often painful to watch the typical theatrel or sacred dance presented in church or within the church community. I try not to be snobbish about this and I try very hard to be encouraging. I try to keep the person's or persons' heart and attitude in account.

Sometimes I am surprised. At my current church they do a much better job with the drama and dance, but these are still not professionals. At least it isn't painful to watch and often quite enjoyable. I just wish the weekly "skit", a passion play, or a singing Christmas tree wasn't the only major artistic endeavor churches would produce.

I also wish greatly that I encountered more (or any!) Christians working in my chosen field. Sometimes when I am on the road it would be nice to sit and chat with a fellow believer who also does this for a living.

In terms of passing it on, I have tried to expose my daughter to all art forms. She daces as well as designs her own clothes. Yet she is an applied math major at Geaorgia Tech! Thank God she is part Asian! But I still can't get her to sit through a Sister Wendy video.

Joe Futral

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Though I find class to be a powerful descriptor of behavior (raised in an evangelical lower middleclass childhood and pastoring in an evangelical upper middleclass to upper class congregation), I would not agree with dismissing the thesis only on that account. I do believe there is a significant theological basis for those who accept and reject the arts. It could be argued it has to do with focus or purpose, but I think it is more of a worldview.

I do try not to critique books I haven't read, so I hope I am not stirring up meaningless debate. I would though be really interested in seeing some sort of generational survey of evangelical Christianity in America about the role the arts play in their faith and daily experiences (with the sorts of questions you have posed in the thread). Statistics aren't the end all be all, but it would be interesting to get a bird's eye view.

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I don't know a lot about European history in this regard, much less about Great Britain specifically, 19th century or otherwise. However, I have just returned from a European tour with the dance company I work for these days. Art in Europe seems hard to avoid regardless of what you can or can't afford. I would think this social schism of art exposure is more prevalent today than it was then, and primarily in the U.S. This may simply be more of a 20th century thing, I guess.

Joe Futral

To some extent this is true. The church was probably the foremost patron of the arts in Europe for centuries. Art was in the public, in churches — inside and out — public squares, architecture, and so on. Much of this art still exists . . . Some older American cities may exhibit certain public works in this manner, but certainly not most.

Only in the last couple centuries has there been such a thing as a public art gallery, to my knowledge. And while the galleries are public, and some free, it has taken a lot of art out of the eye of the public. Instead of seeing "David" when we walk to market these days, we see billboards as we drive by at 70 mph. And you have to make a point of going to a gallery.

Some public buildings still have art, but many don't.

Edited by Chashab

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1. Were you encouraged to engage the arts by your upbringing in the church? If so what branch of the church was your womb?

No, not at all that I can remember. I grew in quite a "fundamentalist" church (E'en had "fundamental" in its name!), although had very creative extended family members — who were and still are for the most part only social Christians.

The only art that I remember hanging in the church were the overdone prints of Jesus knocking on the door, being among children and sheperding sheep. And the photographs of the two pastors (only two pastors in 60 years). I have quite a distaste for these types of pictures now; I'm not sure if some of this is a result of the environment, but probably it is.

2. What was it in your own life that first grabbed you about the art of film? Was it the art form itself or the connection it made with you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually...? Both - does a poor quality film get in your way spiritually just as it does aesthetically? Is that because you have integrated your faith with art and cannot separate the two? Do you think that is true for everyone?

While I really appreciate film, I'm a visual artist. So I'll answer the question by replacing "art of film" with "visual art and architecture" as has already been suggested in this thread.

And the answer is: nothing ever just grabbed me. It's been a process. I remember drawing for fun as early as 6th grade. I continued trying to better myself at this craft for a few years, but by 8th grade had begun designing and drafting floor plans for houses. Architecture had, at some unknown point in time (while in Jr. High) become my first real passion.

In high school I began painting and working in some collage, which were an important part of the process but not something I became really attached to at that time. I continued fervently pursuing architecture, and began college studying architecture.

My university study of architecture lasted 2 years. I still love the profession as much as ever, but ended up changing my major to studio art. At first I was focusing on graphic design (My father was pushing me towards the practical, "How are you going to make a living?" As he still does today, with love.). After a year and a half focusing on desigh, thought I'd learned as much as I could at that point with the profs at that school (they weren't very good at all); and, as much as that, the Spirit led me to pursue more of the "fine arts."

I don't use the idea of the Spirit's leading often or lightly, but am confident when it has occurred in my life. So I finished my BFA studying mostly ceramics and mixed media, while reading a lot of Scripture relating to the arts and trying to begin to understand how they were "valid" for a Christian to be doing. Prior to this revelation and study, I had apparently thought they were not. I graduated convinced of the worth of the visual arts in the life of faith.

From there I've continued, as I've been able, studying Scripture in light of the arts. Reading as I can (Sadly I'm not all that much of a reader, though I try.) on theology and the arts. And as much as I can (which hasn't been all that much) creating art — mostly mixed media wall hangings and sculptures. I'm also very interested in merging missions and the arts, although this has proven a very stiff challenge.

3. The separation of secular and sacred is such a part of evangelical life that when a person in the arts speaks out about their faith and weaves it into their work, it is sometimes surprising. Do you live with this dichotomous world, or are you integrated?

I read Art and the Bible by Schaeffer for the first time about 6 years ago, probably in my last year or two of college. This booklet first introduced me to this dichotomy. Ever since then I've worked in my own life to make certain I did not have such a separation — that, as I can now articulate it, redemption is for all of culture.

With respect to my sculpture: My faith has always informed my work. And I was blessed in college to have classes and professors who didn't see this negatively and who looked at my work objectively. I've also strove to the best of my ability to improve my craft and create art that is comperable to any of my peers, xian or not. I believe I've done these two things, since changing my major in college to studio art, naturally.

I don't claim to have any solution to what I acknowledge is a significant hurdle, but this has been my experience.

Edited by Chashab

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1. Were you encouraged to engage the arts by your upbringing in the church? If so what branch of the church was your womb?

I grew up in somewhat fundamentalist Baptist surroundings. As to the arts? In a word, NO. Other than the fact that my father seemed determined to force feed us classical music. I experienced the dichotomy between faith and culture on a daily basis and the only art available was "archival" as I've come to call it. Art and media of another time "not so corrupt". Seriously.

2. What was it in your own life that first grabbed you about the art of film? Was it the art form itself or the connection it made with you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually...? Both - does a poor quality film get in your way spiritually just as it does aesthetically? Is that because you have integrated your faith with art and cannot separate the two? Do you think that is true for everyone?

I was always attracted to comedy, satire, and basically humor of any sort and any content with something to make me laugh. As an MK, I jumped from the frying pan into the fire of the "gulag", a private school outside of Asheville, NC catering then to MK's. The wider culture was disdained. The school a fortress to protect us. My first year there, I quietly deconstructed arguments against music popular at the time and that made me skeptical. Then we read Arms and the Man in English class. Frankly, I thought that they missed some contraband literature. The satire and constant outrageous quips and senarios were like light in a windowless room. Before this point, I would not have been able to see "movies" as art at all. Just another TV show.

I'm thinking specifically of films like Easy Rider, and Cabaret.

OK, I'm thinking The Godfather, The Apartment, and Midnight Cowboy. Home from the gulag over Easter, I saw The Apartment on a noon movie show here in Detroit. There were glimpses of the subtle use of wit as social commentary I'd seen in Shaw, but this was different. War and warmaking were larks that could make a man his fortune and reputation in Shaw. Wilder was turning the climb up the corporate ladder on its head and making sport of it while adding a touch of life and death.

Fortunately, when I decided to "screw the rules" Mom and Dad drew up, it was to go to see The Godfather. These two films in particular transformed my notion of movies as diversion that I was not allowed to enjoy 'til they were on TV, into art that touched me viscerally as well as intellectually.

3. The separation of secular and sacred is such a part of evangelical life that when a person in the arts speaks out about their faith and weaves it into their work, it is sometimes surprising. Do you live with this dichotomous world, or are you integrated?

I did until recently. I'm in environments more supportive of integration now I fought a 35 year battle with fellow believers over this very thing. Speaking of other media, it was galling to me to here screeds against contemprary pop music that sounded just as ridiculous as the screeds I'd heard in high school. Then, the same people would divert themselves with the very music I had been taught as a kid to avoid for its evil content. Yet I was the bad guy for enjoying jazz and film, who couldn't get a good answer for why time could heal pop music but not jazz.

Among the many reasons I dropped out of church going altogether for a while. The fellowship of which I am now a part (a parish, actually) has other battles to fight and defend. I'm better equipped emotionally for those than the ones I vacated the field from in another tradition.

I'd say that as to the UK church history quoted above, I have no answer or experience. The argument above fits American protestant pietism like a glove. There is to this day, at least an uncomfortable chaffing when culture and intellect stick their noses under the tent at church. Such cerebral use should be for the winning of souls and the enterprise of encouraging others to be salt and light in the world. That salt and light can be spread throughout the culture and engage the outer culture seems to be too indirect and compromising with the tastes and expectations of "the world".

The true uses of one's skills, abilities, passions, and wealth are for one's career and one's church. Maybe one can harness one's blessings for the understanding of scripture and right theology, but only within the confines of the faith handed down from the apostles (Darby, Scofield, Moody, and Graham). This is what I gleaned from 45 years in the sub-culture. The thing that disturbed me the most was the emergent scolarship in christian schools and seminaries (that the ministerial saffs of most churches had digested in school) was so much more open and inquiring than what what was taught and preached in the churches themselves. The cynic in me would suggest fraud in this case, but that is not fair. The gap between what is known and what is preached is apparantly, not a topic for discussion (and probably outside this discussion as well, sorry).

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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What about people who cannot make a living at the things they do best - art, music, theater, etc.? The word "career" troubles me somewhat in this context, though maybe you're using it in a broader sense, Rich? (Vocation/avocation.)

I mean it as your job. A career in the arts would usually be unthinkable. The great intellectual pursuit of most of those with whom I once worshipped was their career, whatever it was. I suppose that many at my present church could also be so described, but I don't always get the sense that there is the attitude that such endeavor in other areas would be superfluous.

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The thing that disturbed me the most was the emergent scolarship in christian schools and seminaries (that the ministerial saffs of most churches had digested in school) was so much more open and inquiring than what what was taught and preached in the churches themselves. The cynic in me would suggest fraud in this case, but that is not fair. The gap between what is known and what is preached is apparantly, not a topic for discussion (and probably outside this discussion as well, sorry).

Great topic nevertheless. And I tend to agree. Having gone to both a Wesleyan seminary and a Reformed seminary, there is much more freedom in thought and acceptance of the arts taught in both than is carried to the local pulpit. The reasons are many, but I think it is often an unwillingness to trust the people to grow into fully-functioning equals in faith and life.

Another truth is that we, as pastors, get attacked when we pull a congregation beyond their comfort zone and it is easier to survive as a kind of benign grandfather than an undershepherd of Jesus.

Denny

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