Why Christianity Needs Real (Not Safe) Art, Music and Story


Derek Webb's Christian music is anything but safe - and thank God for it!

This Post quoting Tim Keller nails the need for inspiring artists within the realm of Christianity:

“The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.”

I’ll take it a step further: For me, musicians like Derek Webb and writers like John Eldredge have been a huge influence. I like them because they’re not a “safe”, watered-down, G-rated version of Mister Rogers’ Christianity. I see too much of that in well-meaning but rather hollow Christian music, movies and books that give up the actual art part of the venture in order to be “safe” and not offend anyone.

Derek and John tell the truth. Their work is transparent, unapologetic and inspiring because it is so REAL. It resonates with the life I live and the world I know. They don’t pretend and they don’t mince words. Many people – including those calling themselves Christians – consider them offensive and dangerous.

Folks, Jesus was (and still is) offensive and dangerous to many people. The Gospel is offensive and dangerous. Claiming to be the one true God, above all others, claiming to be the only way to heaven and everlasting life – that’s offensive and dangerous.

Jesus was wild, dangerous, controversial, beautiful, intimate, loving, kind, compassionate, empathetic, righteous and magnetic – the most talked about person in all of human history. He wasn’t always safe for the whole family. Let’s not water down our worship of him through art, music and story in order to be “safe” and non-offensive.

So keep it coming! I like my Christian art, music and books to reflect real life – dangerous, beautiful, inspiring and above all else REAL.

How about you? Who are your favorite Christian artists and why?

About John Nemo

John Nemo is a former Associated Press reporter, Award-Winning PR Director and Social Media Consultant who helps brands, businesses and individuals leverage LinkedIn to generate sales leads, add new clients and increase revenue. He is also CEO of Nemo Media Group, a Minneapolis-based marketing agency. Learn more about John at www.LinkedInRiches.com

Posted on April 13, 2012, in Everything Else and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. More generally I think that good art usually has a tinge of dangerousness or at least unpredictability. What artists often bring us is a way of seeing the world, that reveals truth. They work in the world of metaphor and imagery, which can be offensive or off-putting on occasion.

    I would take issue with your take on Mr. Rogers, though. Say what you want about the man, but he was genuinely kind and gentle. (See Amy Hollingsworth “The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers.”) The problem with Christian art is that it often seems fake and pretentious, which seems more your point.

    Lastly, although Jesus could be characterized as dangerous. He was also safe. He was safe for sinners and he was dangerous for the religious.

  2. I like the example from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when the children ask about whether or not the Christ-like figure, Aslan the Lion, is safe (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Safe? Heavens, no. But he’s good.” That’s what I’m trying to point out regarding Jesus.

    Also I think the Fred Rogers example is because yes, while kindness and gentleness are great to have, characters like Mister Rogers seem to have zero masculinity. And there are too many men in the church who are emasculated. That’s the point I was going for there.


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