Christian Artist, Christian Music

My uncle and I entered a lively conversation via Facebook regarding Christian artists and the music they produce. You can read the comments here. Basically, the question is should a "Christian Artist" solely produce music that directly relates to his faith? Or can a Christian who is also an artist produce both religiously inspired works, and music for music's sake?

The point my uncle has made is that a Christian cannot separate his "art from his faith." While I agree to a point, I believe a Christian can make art for beauty, out of pain or sadness, but does not have to implicitly relate to Christianity. Although, I've found that even music composed without a spiritual basis can be used to worship as well.

I may be talking in circles, but the truth is,

"by Him all things are created...and all things were created through Him and for Him." Colossians 1:16

So even if someone who truly follows Christ creates a piece of art without lyrics that point to God, it can still be filled with Him.

Now, on the other hand is an example of the opposite. What if music created with lyrics about God and sings "Gloria in excelsis deo" was written by someone who doesn't believe in God at all?

John Rutter is one of my favorite composers. His music is a blend of classical, romantic and contemporary theater a la Stephen Sondheim (one of Rutter's inspirations). Many of his pieces talk about God, are considered sacred, and some are remakes of known hymns like Be Thou My Vision (see his works list here). 

I first discovered him in high school when we performed the first movement of his work Gloria. It is beautiful. And it, among other pieces are some of the most beautiful sacred works I've heard.

When I was in my junior year of college, our Music History class required a final thesis on a composer. Of course, I chose John Rutter. While doing research in college libraries across central Florida, I discovered something shocking and disturbing that rocked my world.

John Rutter is an atheist.

I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't believe it for some time. How could someone who doesn't believe in God create some of the most amazing sacred music? I could identify with his pieces, they move me, and I could downright worship with them.

So if John Rutter can separate his faith (or lack thereof) and create masterpieces of sacred music, can a Christian create music that has nothing to do with God? Should he?