Rick Warren came out with the best selling book called "The Purpose Driven Life". In it he goes on to describer the life of a Jesus follower being a life filled with destiny and purpose. The reason I believe it was a best seller and still is, lies in the fact that post-modernism, existentialism, atheism, and a variety of other "isms" starting with Darwinism, seemed to lead to a life without purpose. What Darwin wrote (even though he would probably argue against it) and Huxley pushed forward was a way for man to exist without the existence of God. The problem is that without the God of the Bible, life ceases to have a purpose. I agree with C.S. Lewis that the problem with atheism is that it is just too easy to refute...but the real issue is that people nowadays are clinging to these isms and striving for purpose which they come up bankrupt.
Therein lies the importance of art and I don't mean any art, I mean good art. Let me first define good art as the product of our creative faculties that explains our existence, brings cosmos out of chaos, and touches the divine. This is what I believe art to be. Because of this definition, good art has the potential of pointing a culture toward God. Let me reiterate what a child of God's ultimate purpose is....The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. It is our destiny and command to love others and point them toward God.
Let us now look at the difference in worldview perspectives for a non-Christian and then, a Christian. Basically, when it comes to artistry, the non-Christian is dependent on art and a Christian is not. This immediately makes me ponder on why it seems like the non-Christian world seems to produce, by and large, better art work than the Christian world...but I digress.
Based on Warren's book we see that human beings need a purpose and identity in life. The Christian has their identity found in Christ Jesus. They are a child of the King and he has "plans to prosper and not to harm..." We know Jesus has a specific purpose as a member of the body of Christ and he has given us different gifts that are to be used for His kingdom and to build the body. We also know that using these gifts often give us pleasure because they give us purpose, they make us feels useful, and we are often given praise for the good work we do with his gifts. A Christian does appreciate beauty and art without a doubt. But art is not necessary for a Christian (even though all Christians create regardless of what is necessary or not) because art helps shape the human experience, give it a name, and connect one of another to that experience, which is exactly what Christ does.
Let us look at the non-Christian. This is a person who does not have a sense of destiny, identity and purpose in anything other than him (or her)self and yet, the need for that identity and purpose is just as strong...if not stronger because it is a constant search. Art does provide a sense of identity and purpose. How many times do we listen to our favorite song about love and say to ourselves, "I get that! I really understand what that songwriter is going through! I have been there too!!!" and the list goes on. Art let's people know that we are connected and that we aren't on our own. I often find the non-Christian to be far more defensive of artistry, to them it is the body and blood... to them it is the bread of life.
Again, this is why Art is important for the Christian. If we are to connect the hearts of the people to Christ, we must realize that art, to them, is life...it is gospel...it is potentially the MOST important thing. We can not go around producing mediocre works for a Christian audience anymore. First of all, God demands our excellence in all we do, we owe it to God to go deeper than surface perspectives on art. Look how deep we go into the study of the bible, should we not go as deep in our creative endeavors. Art is the thing of mystery, we must go deep in order to produce powerful metaphor and transcendence. Second, if we are to pull people toward Christ we must present an art that is good enough to stand up to the critics of secular artistry and then go beyond. Our artistry should be so good that it naturally pulls both the secular and then Christian into a place where they can see the cosmos through the chaos and they can see the divine. This is our mission. It isn't about censorship of art, it is about engaging it fully, deeply, and excellently. Only then might we have a chance to witness through the creative process.
Great art will pull all towards it and thus, toward God. Bad art is becomes bad Gospel. Sure, God can use whatever we create for His good purpoise, but let's give him our best and maybe he will surprise us. I'm those who gave their all, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Rembrandt, Charles Dickens, Michelangelo, Dorothy Sayers, T.S. Eliot, Thorton Wilder among the millions of other Christian artists, were surprised with the way God used them and their artistry and they were also probably very pleased that they went after the call with all they had.