Why do people assemble from around the world to wait in long lines to view Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, or The David in Florence; Caravaggio's Denial of St. Peter on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or The Crucifixion of Saint Peter in Rome? How is it that such magnificent music as in Handel's Messiah, Bach's The Passion of St. Matthew or Mass in B Minor, and Mozart's Requiem make us long for that which lies outside of ourselves? The beauty of such creative expressions speaks to something deep within the human soul: it is the desire to experience a beauty that goes beyond artistic talent; it is to catch a glimpse of God as reflected in the work of His created beings. While some may not outwardly admit to such; they continue to flock to such sites where these works of art reside or are performed, like moths drawn to a flame.

Theology is not bounded by the verbal alone because of its inherent rich imagery that lies beyond the limits of language. Because God is beyond human knowing, we come closest to Him when we understand how far short we fall with our attempts to articulate the inexpressible.

Since the time of the early Christian church, there has been concern with the appropriate use of artistic expression in sanctified halls. Culture creep has blurred moral and ethical absolutes that once guided creative expression in sanctuaries. The "complexification" of society and culture has further convoluted the issue of determining which of our choices for artistic expression in Christian worship lie on this side or that side of disputable matters at a minimum, and which choices proclaim God's glory with our highest and best efforts.

How do we balance artistic expression with creative restraint for worship? How can we draw attention to creative expression that glorifies God without attracting undue attention on our own efforts? Where can we begin? As we should, we turn to Scripture, and specifically in the New Testament, for the New Covenant establishes the Christian church, and in it are found not the details for hard and fixed boundaries, but guidelines for dealing with the similarities and differences between us. Artistic expression has no Scriptural prescription for inclusion in worship, so it is relegated to being a "disputable matter" as the apostle Paul called many practices not critical to salvation. But even Paul wrote that some practices are not beneficial and others are not constructive.

Beyond Disputable Matters provides thoughtful consideration of these issues for musicians/artists, congregations, and pastoral staff that avoids such an all-too-convenient claim.

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Beyond Disputable Matters
Balancing Creative Expression with Artistic Restraint in Christian Worship
Available 2016 from Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com, and at Donn's classical guitar appearances in softcover; eBook format will be available on Kindle and other formats.
Copyright 2016 Donn LeVie Jr. | All Rights Reserved.