In recent decades, the evangelical Christian community has made notable advances in education and scholarship, in missions, and in awareness of its social responsibilities. There is among evangelicals a new sense of the responsibility of every Christian to represent, as a living epistle, the incarnational aspect of his faith.

But in the arts and particularly in church music the need for developing a scriptural aesthetic has still to be met. Beauty and truth continue to be confused as do mediocrity and results. Contentment with mediocrity as a would-be carrier of truth looms as a major hindrance to aesthetic maturity among evangelicals.

Contrary to the Statements of many publishers and leaders, there has been no recent revolution in church music. There have been some limping imitations of a true secular radicalism, but no intrinsic upheaval. Church music continues its round of habituating listeners to the comforts of the past and the third-handedness of the present. Just enough vestiges of classicism remain to impart a sense of history, and our borrowings are controversial enough to titillate our sense of contemporaneity. In confusing relevance with immediacy and communication with imitation we tend to reduce Christianity and what we call Christian music to a kind of competitive commodity.

There is no lack of fine artists in the ranks of evangelicalism. There are artists who reflect a new outlook: they refuse to view art as merely a “come-on” to worship and strive to avoid the use of art as a kind of cosmetic for Christianity. They have chosen to remain true to the surrender of their creative talents to God through disciplined workmanship. As a result many of them have been isolated, and for some this has led to ...

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