DIEMEN, THE NETHERLANDS August 23, 1966

DEAR MISS STEPHENSON:

Your letter reached me yesterday after its trans-Atlantic voyage, and I propose to answer you directly. Your request touches on a problem I have been thinking about for a long time. Maybe what follows can be of help to you. I’d like to approach the matter in a schematic way, pointing out some principles.

Your questions concern your wish to paint—that is, to work as an artist—as a Christian. It really is remarkable that you decided to do this when you were just converted. Many times new Christians just drop their artistic careers because they think painting and art today are incompatible with being a real Christian. I’m glad you made this decision and hope to help you by suggesting the following principles for Christian artists:

1. If God has given us talents we may use them creatively—or rather, we must use them creatively. A Christian artist is not different from, say, a Christian teacher, minister, scholar, merchant, housewife, or anybody else who has been called by the Lord to specific work in line with his or her talents. There are no specific rules for artists, nor do they have specific exemptions to the norms of good conduct God laid down for man. An artist is simply a person whose God-given talents ask him to follow the specific vocation of art. There may be circumstances when love toward God would forbid certain artistic activities or make them impossible, but the present moment in history does not ask for such a sacrifice. Quite the contrary. We—the Christian world and the world at large—desperately need artists.

2. To be God’s child means to be offered freedom—the Christian freedom Christ himself and Paul in his letters say much about. This freedom is most ...

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