This is certainly unlike any of my other posts, which are usually cold and analytic. However, I was recently fortunate enough to meet some musicians, both of which I grew up with a deep admiration for. Not just because they put out good music, lots of secular musicians have put out good music and I do not admire them at a personal level, at all, (especially in the genre I enjoy.) but these guys, John Schlitt (Petra) and Billy Smiley (Whiteheart) recently came to my home town under the banner of a new band, Saints and Sinners, with a newer musician, Jason Fowler. They were playing in a venue which would be over legal capacity if 50 people were occupying it, I am sure, and the total cost of the sound equipment in this venue was probably worth not more than $10,000, lighting included and I can say not one shred of their talent was lost coming through the equipment they were using and it was an amazing show.
“What on earth does this have to do with apologetics and philosophy?” one might ask. I certainly cannot say I admire them solely based on their musical talent, lots of musicians have that. What I admire about these guys is that they use this talent they have to convey a message that desperately needs to be heard. Like many contemporary artists who use their poetry, their drawing talent, such as Holly Ordway who uses her poetry as a medium to convey her love for apologetics and philosophy, or CS Lewis, and JR Tolkien, both who used their writing skills to convey the truths of the Christian message.
My point is that while I am a cold analytic philosopher, and there are many like me, who also cannot carry a musical note, and if we played guitar we’d make sounds akin to a howling cat, Christianity needs the arts, not just to entertain, but to convey messages about worldview.
The lead singer, John Schlitt, made a comment during the concert that what prompted the making of their Petra Praise album was that the church, or its leaders, seemed afraid of the development of Christian rock, as though these concerts were going to prompt their youth to shave swear words into the back of their heads the next day, or worse biting heads off bats, so they wanted to put out a record mom and dad could enjoy too. I have also noticed some, although not all, are leery of apologetics and any apologist who teaches, say, that big bang cosmology might support the existence of God. This comment, by Schlitt, really resonated with me, because I have come to learn that apologetics, which is applied philosophy, to be a science, in that there are rules which apply, but that it is also an art, in the sense that one brings their intellect as much as they do their personalities and life experience to the table with them.
If there was a take away from that concert it was this: The church needs the arts, because humans are relational creatures and a study of anthropology shows how we leave evidence of this in our wake. I would encourage any Christian to explore their creative or rational side and I hope pastors would support these endeavours, because it isn’t just a battle for our minds, but it is also a culture war which Christians have too often laid down their arms in.