Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

The Faith and Fiction Round Table is a group, started by My Friend Amy, that determined six books relating to faith and mostly fiction to read together in 2011. We have discussions via email and then post our thoughts on the book.

This month’s book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters by Philip Yancey

“Sometimes we must go outside the church to get nourishment — art, beauty, knowledge — which we can then bring inside to appreciate fully.”

~page 130, What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

Is this true? Do we agree?

I, for one, certainly get nourishment outside the church. To give a quick example: Most of us read a mix of books, Christian fiction and general market books (I mean, not exclusively Christian fiction).

I believe strongly that artists within the Church should have the same level of craft and content as artists outside the Church. Restated: There should be the same quality of art inside the Church — being created in the Church, emanating from the Church — as there is outside the Church.

I hypothesize, though, that even if/when the Church is consistently producing art on that level, some people will need to seek (hopefully only) partial nourishment outside the Church.

But we’re neglecting the second part of Yancey’s statement. What about that second part, that to fully appreciate a work of art one must “bring [it] inside”?

If, by this, Yancey means that the artwork must be brought inside the Body, discussed and examined with the congregation, then I don’t agree. Sadly, the Church (I’m speaking in generalities here) isn’t equipped to discuss or appreciate art. The Church bought so fully into Modernism that is has no place for art. Still.

If, though, Yancey’s statement is read to mean that the artwork is most fully appreciated through a Christian worldview or lens, then I can’t argue. Sure. But that’s a pretty … unorthodox interpretation of his words, I think.

What do you think? Must we, sometimes, go outside the church to find artistic nourishment, but then bring it back inside to partake?

For more posts on What Good Is God? In Search of a Faith that Matters, please visit:
My Friend Amy Book Addiction, Book Hooked Blog, Books and Movies, Crazy for Books, Ignorant Historian, Linus’s Blanket, My Random Thoughts, Book Journey, Roving Reads, Semicolon, The 3R’s Blog, Tina’s Book Reviews, Victorious Cafe

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12 responses to “Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

  1. I fully agree that we need to look both inside and outside the Church for artistic nourishment – and I don’t believe that should ever change, even if the Church starts producing the highest level of art. If we don’t engage with the art – films, books, music, visual arts – that is being produced outside the Church, we will become too separate. I have always hated the idea of the “church on a hill” looking down on the rest of humanity. We are meant to be like Jesus, which means right in the midst of the world we live in, and being able to understand and discuss the art around us is one way of doing that.

    As far as taking it inside the Church to appreciate it – no, I don’t agree with that. I like your interpretation of it, though – of art as viewed through our Christian worldview, but I’m not really sure it is because it is necessary, as much as because it is unavoidable. As Christians, our minds have (or are supposed to have been) transformed – and we can’t help but view art through new eyes.

    Good question to bring up, Hannah – you have me thinking first thing in the morning, which is quite an accomplishment!

    • Right, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that even in an ideal situation it would be bad to go outside the Church for artistic nourishment! You reference the ‘city on a hill,’ but that insular-ness is more akin to a ghetto, in my mind. Not even really observing, from a distance, this culture we’ve been set in.

  2. Great insights!! You know I never really looked at the angle you took from the book. I get a lot of spiritual food outside of church. The biggest being BSF ( a yearly bible study group) and my outreach outside of church organizations. I think the biggest thing Christians sometimes forget is that church isnt a building…its people coming together, its people making a difference. I get so frustrated with the “church building” religion because it becomes a business and not a community.

  3. I have fairly profound spiritual insights from art produced outside of the Church…I think because I believe we are all created in God’s image when we create we are never able to create without it having some significance. Sometimes I like to take outside art back into the family of believers for discussion, but I don’t think it has to be that way.

  4. Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors, but I couldn’t get into this book that way I wanted to…

    That being said, I think that all truth is God’s truth, meaning that if something is true or beautiful (and “moral”), then it brings glory to God whether that’s the artist’s intention or not.

  5. Do this mean that you don’t necessarily need to go to church to be spiritual? I wasn’t sure if it was a metaphor and if I picked up on it right, LOL. But if so I agree!

  6. Pingback: What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey | Semicolon

  7. I agree I find nourishment through books, relationships, environment… I love that I can experience God anywhere and everywhere and (also) get refueled in church with other believers.

  8. I agree with Amy that beautiful things whether Christian or not can bring glory to God. It is an interesting question, Hannah. I’m sure I’ll continue thinking on it.

  9. I’m with you – God is everywhere, not just within the church. I can definitely appreciate art from outside the church and I don’t necessarily think it needs to be brought inside to be appreciated.

  10. I just finished this book and enjoyed hearing his insights on each of those circumstances. That statement did not stick out to me when I read it, and I’ve since loaned the book to a friend, so I can’t go back right now for context!

    But it does stand out by itself, and now I’m pondering it . . . I think that God has gifted people graciously with talents and creative abilities, and many of those people do not know Him, therefore, their work is not “in the Church” (not Christian based). I think art is most appreciated when it turns the heart to worship all that God is. That’s how I took Yancey’s statement.

    The Body should be more appreciative of art, not less, because God is the source of creativity. Sin may pervert that creative bent in some people, but that should not cause believers to run from creativity.

  11. Pingback: Win A BOOK with FaithFinance Blog « Post A WEEK 2011 | Wordpress Challenge

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