Viewpoint: Bridge gap between Christian, secular art

Scotty Swingler | Guest Columnist

Scotty Swingler | Guest Columnist
Scotty Swingler | Guest Columnist
By Scotty Swingler
Guest Columnist

Christian movies suck.

They do. They really do. Ask anybody if they enjoyed the film “God’s Not Dead” more than the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” flick. The same principle applies to music. Why is it that “Christian” music gets its own Grammy categories? Perhaps because “Christian” music can’t compete?

Like it or not, Christian subculture has ruined good art. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of the vast majority. The idea that Christian art is poor compared to secular is even shared by researchers.

Dr. Thom Parham of Azusa Pacific University has a Ph.D in communications and teaches cinematic art. He wrote a book titled “Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture” in which he states that secular movies actually come closer to representing Christ than most Christian movies. Author Clive Marsh wrote a book titled “Theology Goes to the Movies” in which he agreed, citing multiple films that depict biblical theology better than any “Christian” films.

How can this be? It’s simple. Christian films are too scared to venture outside of their safe box, while secular films take an “anything goes” approach. Which approach do you think God takes?

My God doesn’t exist inside any sort of “safe” box.

Christian music has the same problem. Jon Foreman and Michael Gungor, both Christians and both musicians, have made bold public statements about their refusal to play “Christian music.”

Foreman said, “Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonatas Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. None of (my) songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes.”

Is there a solution to this schism between Christian art and secular? Yes. Christians have to stop labeling their work as such. Let’s stop calling any art, be it movies or music or otherwise, “Christian.”

Maybe more importantly, Christians have to stop consuming poor art just because of a label. If a movie sucks, don’t watch it. Just because it was “made for Jesus Christ” doesn’t mean it’s a good film and worth your money. Same with music.

Christians, be stingy. Demand good art from your peers.

And for those who still disagree with my assessment that we should kill “Christian” art, I think Foreman’s final words will make an impact on your thoughts. He continued by saying, “My songs are a part of my life. But judging from Scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that. You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation, only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow.”

Scotty Swingler is a senior Communications Specialist major from China Spring. He is a guest columnist for the Lariat.