What Art Can’t Be Redeemed?

photo credit: joshuahoffmanphoto via photopin cc

photo credit: joshuahoffmanphoto via photopin cc

I was reading a blog post the other day about Christian Rap. While the author disagreed, he posed the question that he’d heard, namely that the genre is so corrupt that it can’t really be used for a Christian message.

This struck me as odd. You see, I’ve had this discussion already… twenty-five years ago. Then it wasn’t about rap, but metal. As a teen, I never really liked the bland music my parents preferred. The excitement and passion of rock was what really got me going.

Another set of articles centered around the metaphors that some churches were using for their Easter services. One announced that the Walking Dead would return on Easter with a picture of Jesus leaving the tomb. Another was using zombies as a metaphor for the kind of life that people live before they know Christ.

At the basis of each of these articles is a question that no one gave voice to, “Can God redeem that and use it for His purposes?” I don’t think they’d say it that way, but when you think about it, that is the central question of using any art or story.

That’s also the question that surrounds the “tempest in a teapot” outrage when year after year someone claims that some Christian holiday (usually either Halloween, Christmas, or Easter) has occult or pagan roots. Is this holiday so corrupted by its origins that God can no longer use it?

While I don’t think we should blindly decide to use anything without the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think that deciding that something is unredeemable is foolish and unbiblical. What evidence do I have for that? The Crucifixion.

Think about it. What is more secular and evil than the brutal murder of the only One who never did anything to deserve it? The central event in human history is so horrible that if I didn’t know that God did redeem it, it would be hard to imagine how He could. (click to tweet)

That, by the way, is the position that the disciples were in after Jesus died. They weren’t sure how anything good could come of the murder of Jesus even though He told them it would happen and how it would turn out.

As people who live after the Resurrection, we can forget how brutal and devoid of redeeming qualities the Crucifixion seemed. Jesus wasn’t just beaten. He wasn’t just killed. He wasn’t just tortured. He wasn’t just humiliated. He was beaten, humiliated, tortured, and killed.

Today, we use the cross as a symbol for Christianity, but that’s like having a guillotine or hangman’s noose as jewelry. Some people like morbid symbols of death, but the cross is no longer that. Now, it’s totally different.

Consider what people say can’t be redeemed. Music? Monsters? Holidays? No, it’s possible that in a few years people won’t remember gangsta rap because Christian rap will have taken over it’s meaning. Zombies could easily become symbols for people who are living, but not really alive because they don’t have Christ.

I’m not saying these things will happen, but with a God like ours, they could.

We serve the God who redeemed horrific torture. What can’t He redeem?

Paul

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. has been a tech volunteer with Quest Community Church in Lexington, KY since 2000 and is the founder of TrinityDigitalMedia.com, llc. He became part of the technology in ministry team when his church’s attendance was around 200 in one Sunday service and has witnessed it’s growth to 5,200 average weekly attendance in one Saturday service, four Sunday services in one online and two physical campuses. He literally wrote the book on podcasting in churches, twitter in churches, & servant-hearted volunteering, as well as writing various articles for publications like “Church Production” and “Technologies for Worship” magazines.