Critical Book Review of a Creative Church by Todd Smith Shiyun Zhang

A Creative Church is a book which is written by Todd Smith. It is about American Christianity development and culture renewal in the late nineteenth-century through the twentieth century. It includes theatre, music, arts and dance etc. Todd Smith is a professor at Liberty. He is the chairman of art gallery, studio art and graphic design. This paper would talk about a Creative Church review.

At the beginning, Smith explained that how the stage was changed in twentieth century to the reader. According to Smith, “several late nineteenth-century developments would set the stage for the growing inclusion of the arts in American Christianity in the twentieth century.” Author talked about some events that happened at twentieth century that influenced the Christian art. One of the events was the changed of singing school. According to Smith, more gospel songs were used more often at singing school around that time. At that time many normal schools let teachers to teach gospel songs in the school, and publishers to publish more books including gospel songs in it. It is a nice chance for more students can worship God in the school and can let many atheism students to learn God easier. Music is easy to learn and remember for children, I think this is a positive changed for students to get close to God at school.

Smith talked about Voices of Renewal next. Just like the gospel songs at school, many nice Christin songs were created at that time by many great music producer. According to Smith, “the members of the first board of the Religious Art and Music department were the leaders of their field at that time.” Caleb T. Winchester is an example in the book, who is a professor, artist and author at Wesleyan University. Another example is Henry Turner Bailey, who is an author, artist, and educator. These people are the members of religious artist, who helped the religious music growing at that time. Religious music is another way to worship God, it is an easy to let people to know Him and remember Him. According to Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” God wants his people to worship Him by singing the songs. It is very important that we have these artists to create religious music, it is another way to show that God is the center of our lives at twentieth century.

The writer continued writing about Theatre. According to Smith, “the American pageantry movement, which peaked from 1900 to 1925, featured dramatic reenactments of local, regional, and national history.” Church starts to realize that drama can be used at missionary and Sunday school at twentieth century. I believe that drama is very helpful at missionary and Sunday school. It is easier to let many people to understand the Bible story by playing for them than read for them, especially for children and foreigners. It is also a good way to let the people to understand the role by acting him or her. Both the actors and the audiences can get benefit from these drama.

After talking about drama, Smith continue talked about Visual Arts. Church building is kind of visual arts. According to Smith, “Church Among its many purposes in culture, the Church building serves as a visual symbol and communicates the ideals and aspirations of the Christian community.” Church is the temple of God, how people build the church can represent how they treat God. It is very important to let people know God is in the center of our life, we have to do the best to build church in order to respect Him and worship Him. As Burgess said, “Non-Christians must see that Christians are truly committed to others’ well-being. They must experience in the lives of Christians that God brings to life everything that lets humans be truly human.” The art of church can bring more cultural things to people. Christians can let people know what God brings to humans.

Todd also gave some examples of divinity schools and churches in colleges. These schools offer educational opportunities for theology, art and practice. He put one picture of Duke University Chapel. Duke University has many strategies and programs about theological education. The picture is beautiful.

This book introduces many pioneers creative. I talked about that below. In the history of creative church, there are also o many other people contributed a lot. “By 1870, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded, the educational value of museums was a prime concern for the young nation.” Many painters are introduced in this article such as Jonathan Sturges and W.H.Osburn.

In conclusion, this is a book clearly describes a picture of creative church in the late nineteenth-century and the churches are still developing in nowadays. Art is attractive and God gives people talent for creating arts, music and other beautiful things. It is amazing.

Work Cited

Smith, Anthony Todd. Creative Church: The Arts and a Century of Renewal. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2015. Print.

Krötke, Wolf, and John P. Burgess. "“A Jump Ahead”: The Church as Creative Minority in Eastern Germany." Theology Today 68.4 (2012): 438-47. Web. 10.1177/0040573611424221

OAKLANDER, CHRISTINE I. “Jonathan Sturges, W. H. Osborn, and William Church Osborn: A Chapter in American Art Patronage.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 43, 2008, pp. 173–194., www.jstor.org/stable/25699093 .

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