Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
Francis Schaeffer is known for developing a thoughtful yet passionate apologetic, calling the church to discern the times and recognize the shift in ideas threatening to fracture the foundation of evangelicalism.
Along with his study of culture, Schaffer also grew in his appreciation for art. Because he and Edith lived in Switzerland, they had opportunities to visit the most famous museums in Europe, including the Musee du Louvre in Paris. Dr. Schaeffer taught that art ultimately reflects the artists’ worldview. He suggested, however, that the observer could not easily come to a conclusion based upon just one piece of art. Instead, the whole body of work must be taken into consideration in order to more fully know the ideas that shape the artist’s view of reality.
That principle holds true in many areas of life. A single song may only tell a small part of the composer’s thinking. Years ago, a University president scrutinized one of my songs and tore it apart, line by line before an impressionable student body. On the very same recording project there was another song that helped clarify, explain and bring balance to the song in question. Even in music it’s possible to take a song out of context and miss the artists’ intentions.
I must confess, however, that I too have been guilty of judging prematurely. I have come to conclusions about artists, authors, preachers or fellow believers based upon just a sliver of their work or lives; a song that was theologically questionable; a sermon that seemed out of balance; a book that seemed to miss the point, or one dark chapter in a person’s story.
The Psalms give us an intimate look into David’s heart, but only when we study all the songs that flowed from his journey can we see the big picture. A casual observer, reading just one psalm would only have a limited view and miss the grand narrative of David’s life and his inspired revelation of God.
A couple of parting thoughts: Many of my opinions can be based upon hearsay or a very partial knowledge. It takes time and energy to study more fully the expressions of art around me in order to discover what the artists are communicating. Then, too easily I can put people in a box and label it with certainty, unaware that their story is still in process, my understanding is limited at best, and God is able to graciously write the final glorious chapters.
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