I recently read The Shack and found myself fascinated by the controversy surrounding this amazing novel. As an artistic work, this book has been criticized for promoting a wrong-headed view of universal salvation and for being deeply subversive, scripturally incorrect, and downright dangerous. At the same time, others have celebrated this work as creative brilliance, spiritually profound, and transformational.
I was stunned by how a single creative work could provoke such opposing responses, an observation which raised for me this question: Is an author required to maintain a sense of biblical accuracy in his or her expression of faith, and to what extent is creative license appropriate? This same question could be asked of Christian songwriters and Christian artists, many of whose works have also provoked opposing responses within the Christian community.
I consider myself a Christian artist, meaning that I use art as an expression of faith in an effort to impact things on a spiritual level. As a result, I consider myself a teacher of God’s Truth and feel a certain responsibility to ensure that my artistic expressions are accurate representations of everything I know about God and His Good News; whether my expression is written, lyrical, or visual, I feel a responsibility to convey His attributes and promises in a way that is biblically accurate and theologically sound, even at the expense of using any creative license.
After reading The Shack, I wonder about my responsibility as a Christian artist. Am I expressing my faith for the purpose of educating others about Biblical truths, or am I expressing my faith for the purpose of entertaining and encouraging others to seek God’s truth on their own? What is the purpose of my expression and does purpose really matter? At what point does creative license trump biblical accuracy?
What do you think?