I remember growing up and becoming confused by the term “Christian Music.” I always assumed that a Christian artist created this music and wrote only about God. They could only sing about the love of Jesus or something of that nature. It was often lamented when a formerly “Christian” band crossed over into the secular realm. Their music no longer explored Christ but talked about something else. In short, Christian art could only depict Biblical themes. An artist was either in the camp of Christ or was in the realm of something more sinister.
While this worldview can be applauded for its zeal, it simply is not ideal. God has provided grace to the world and has fashioned humans to be creative. He delights in the creative impulse of His children and appreciates the talent of those outside of Christ. The Holy Spirit has gifted people to create culture regardless of their standing before Him. We can enjoy their art, whether a painting or concert, and applaud their creation of beauty.
At many points in history, Christians were at the forefront of artistic movements. I can think of Bach, Handel and Tolkien as people who created excellent things and were also Christians. The fact that we are people who proclaim that we are redeemed by Christ should be reason enough to do things well. Additionally, we as Christians should not endorse mediocre art just because the person is a Christian. We must create culture that is robust and worth sharing with the broader world. It is not enough to stay in our little bubble and subculture. We must not produce mediocre art, instead opting to enter into the mainstream to directly engage culture. This engagement should be done with excellent culture, for in that we bring glory to God.