Critical Book Review of a Creative Church by Todd Smith Zheyi Liao

This Book is a kind of history book talking about the development of Christian Arts. This book content Voice of renewal, Theatre, Music, Visual Arts, Dance and etc. it is a great book for people to read and learn how to appreciate art.

This talked about setting the stage at first, it tells the reader how American Christian arts changed in twentieth century. According to Smith, “This set against a backdrop of the American Protestant churches’ long history of limiting the use of the arts in congregational life, music being the general exception.” It is very important that people need to know how to use art to serve God. According to Perrone, “art is any form of self-expression that is done by a human being for the purpose of expression.” Art is a way that can let people to show what they think about the world. Christian can use art to let people know who is God and what the relationship between God and human is. It is an easy and directly way to praise and worship Him.

Voices of Renewal is the next topic of the book. According to Smith, “One of the first national events of the new century that helped promote the arts in abroad range of Christian circles occurred in 1903 in Chicago, at the formative meeting of the Religious Education Association.” At that time more and more people realize that it is important to have religious education. Just like Smith mentioned in the first Chapter about singing school. He talked about how gospel songs be taught more regularly in the school in twentieth century. Many art departments were established at that time in order to let more people to know God through art. Art is not only a picture or song, it contains meaning. Religious arts is a nice tool for Christian to not only learn and worship God, but also to preach the gospel for other people.

The third chapter is about theater. This book talks about how drama were used in twentieth century to preach the gospel. According to Smith, “drama was being used for more than spontaneous missionary plays, Sunday school lessons, and social group entertainment…” drama can easy to tell people a Bible story, it is a good example that how God is connected with art.

Smith talked about music next in the book. Gospel song is very common for a Christian, it is a typical example of using art in church. According to Reformed Church in America, “Of all the musical instruments that may be employed in the praise of God, the human voice has priority.” Human voice is a gift from God, it is a great tool for use to communicate with other people but also to worship God. Acts 16:25-26 says, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God…And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.” This verse shows that sing has strength, it is not only an art, but is also a power for Christian.

After talking about music, this book also talks about visual arts. Church is a kind of visual art. According to smith, “Thousands of churches were built over the century in a variety of styles, the major purpose being to provide form and function for the public act of communal worship.” Church is for Christian to worship God, and it is also God’s temple. Smith also said that church is a symbol of Christian. It is an art, but also the body of God.

In the chapter six, Smith talked about dance. According to Smith, “By the early 1960s, two renewal movements occurred that would be instrumental in making dance an accepted expression of worship for larger segments of Christianity: the Charismatic and Jesus movement.” Dance is another beauty way for people to show how we love our God. It is very important for church to accept dance as a kind of worship.

By reading this book, I understand that there were many change during twentieth century about gospel art. People can start to learn gospel arts from Sunday school and many religious education association; from that time many church accept people to use music and dance to worship God; many missionary and Sunday school use drama to preach the gospel by playing the stories from the Bible. It is important for us to worship God through arts because it is a gift from God.

Work Cited

Perrone, Kenneth. "What is art?" Questions: Philosophy for Young People 4 (2004): 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 May 2017.

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

"The Theology and Place of Music in Worship." The Theology and Place of Music in Worship | Reformed Church in America. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.


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