Ten years of marriage, four children, vocational ministry, and the general business of life notwithstanding, I am absolutely convinced—art matters!
Why? Because art (in any form) not only offers one of the clearest insights into the culture of our present time, it forecasts its future—and, if effectively seized, it’s evangelization. It is likely that I owe such conviction in large part to the late evangelist/writer/philosopher Francis Schaeffer. I was first introduced to his work around 15 years ago, and to this day my affection for his work grows ever deeper.
Just months ago, I watched a couple of Schaeffer’s final sermons, delivered shortly before his death, and I was moved to tears. I have rarely, if ever, witnessed such a lucid yet fair assessment of a culture in moral decline, presented by a speaker who, with every labored word and gesture, evinced not prideful bloating or condemnation, but a brokenness brought on by the love of Christ. This love ultimately marks the Christian. And it is not merely a descriptive sentiment, but is in fact a prescriptive solution. The impact of Schaeffer’s work is broad and ineffably deep. I am one grateful soul.
And I’m not alone. Nancy Pearcey, of note, is one who immediately comes to mind. Not only did she have the privilege of studying under Francis Schaeffer for a time, but her contributions, written and otherwise, have not only multiplied Schaeffer’s work, but sharpened it.
For me, this is most acutely demonstrated in her book Saving Leonardo. In Schaeffer’s trilogy (The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent), he introduced the concept of the “upper story leap.” Perhaps I’ll unpack that another time, but for my purpose here it will suffice to say that the concept has become one of the most important tools for me personally (and many others) for evaluating and understanding our time. I believe Pearcey in Saving Leonardo has managed to refine the idea for even greater impact. She calls it the “fact-value split.” I’ll bear enthusiastic witness that if you want to have a greater understanding of the art and worldview(s) of our increasingly secular society, what to do about them, and how to push back, then this is a must read!
I plan to read Saving Leonardo again soon, and it will be required reading for my children.