Smith’s book seems to impart a vast wealth of information as well as interpretation of how those artists and art forms mentioned have changed Christian culture over the years.
If the reader is willing to invest time and thought, they will learn a great deal; their understanding of how the artistic church came to be the way it presently is will become clearer.
One aspect of A Creative Church that I enjoyed is how Todd Smith describes the intersection of theology, education, and art in the seventh chapter (119). The author spends over one hundred pages depicting church art history and current events in several variations of the fine arts. After these practical, factual chapters, he takes the opportunity to reunite the history of church art with its present state when he discusses several well-known institutions that offer educational opportunities for students interested in church art.
Smith mentions Duke Divinity School’s Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, modeled after the University of St. Andrew’s department of the same name and founded by Jeremy Begbie almost ten years ago (Smith 120-21).
A few more notable names from this chapter include Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music and School of Divinity, as well as the doctoral degree in Christianity and the Arts available from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (123).
Certainly, the church has changed with time and culture, and subsequently so has church art.
Based on their publications, all three authors mentioned—Smith, Freddoso, and Giorgi—appear to agree that to fully appreciate church art, one must understand how, why, where, when, and through whom it came to exist.
Todd Smith offers this information to his readers in A Creative Church, showing them that no matter what denomination or even what nation a Christian comes from, the arts have the capability to influence one’s spirituality, in both individual and corporate settings.