When Bill Dyrness, a professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., reflects on his worship experience, his mind takes him back half a century to his childhood in Wheaton, Ill.
There, in a home where the expression "Jesus Never Fails" was prominently displayed on the wall, he sang hymns and knelt to pray during family devotionals.
The beauty of the imagery from those days was an important "aesthetic experience," said the Rev. Dyrness, an ordained Presbyterian minister and an expert on visual arts in worship.
Similarly, he believes, most people have emotional memories that are connected with an "aesthetic dimension." It could be about a song, a painting, an often-told story or a religious symbol such as a crucifix that a family brought from the old country. Sometimes the memory can trigger the return to a church after years of being away.
My last comment of the night,then Im of for some egyptian PT. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of CHRIST:for it is the power of GOD UNTO SALVATION to everyone that believeth;" Have never come across a christian,who was saved singing and dancing. The great commission is to PREACH,PREACH,PREACH THE GOSPEL(Mark 16:15)any acting,is acting the fool.
Why shouldn't people express their love of God and Christ through the creative arts. Wouldn't you prefer it to secular art? Or are those here who oppose the arts in church opposed to the arts generally?
The only "aesthetic experience" I seemed to need and stayed with me all my life was the great love I felt during my few visits to a Vacation Bible School at a Baptist church when I was 4 and 5 yrs old! I learned "Jesus Loves Me" and the song never left my memory banks! Not VISUAL: Truth through song and scripture! Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! Please be sure to invite your infidel neighbors' kids to VBS or any other church activity. Their future depends on it! I read somewhere that the longer it takes for someone to get the gospel (the older one is) the harder or less likely it is for them to become a true believer. Influence them while they're young!
As one who spent 46 years in the Roman church, let me assure you that this sort of thing is conducive to removing one's eyes from Jesus (of whom we have no photograph) & placing our eyes, & eventually our faith in images. Catholics & Orthodox revere, & yes worship the visual arts that they find incorporated as integral parts of their worship. There is little difference between a golden calf and an icon. They are both idols. Artistic people in a congregation are just like anyone else, they are sinners saved (or not) by grace alone.) If they want special recognition, they are seeking self honor, and the lack of pure worship through the scripture alone is leading them down a pleasurable but fatal walk down the wide path of destruction. Although I have walked with the Lord for 12 years now, I knew as soon as I threw out all images, relics, icons, etc, & relied on the Bible alone, that I now knew God personally. My joy is in Him who died for me. That is all I need. Amen.
You'll have to notice that it is the mainline churches that are depending on entertainment of all sorts for keeping the audience from getting bored. This is what seeker churches are doing also. So, if a church begins emphasizing the entertainment factor, you had better see how far down the road they are getting away from true worship.
Dyrness talks as if man's emotional response to imagery was a new thing, coming only out of 20th-century video culture. Has he not seen Medieval stained-glass, St. Peter's Basilica, Hindu temples, etc? The Catholic and Orthodox churches are past masters of sensual worship - sight (architecture, paintings, statuary, icons), sound (pipe organs, choirs, Gregorian chants), and smell (incense). Neo-evangelicals are pikers by comparison.
Man has always been drawn to religious imagery. But that this is so does not make it right.
Acts 17:29 "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and manâs device."
If anyone wants to learn the hot debate in the Presbyterian church today, study what some ministers call the "foundation for reformation".
Bill Dyrness is an ordained Presbyterian minister and professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary.
He is going to run into great conflict with my Presbyterian minister who holds to the fundamental principles of biblical worship as defined "from the Scriptures" and summarized in the "Directory for the Public Worship of God", approved in one unified voice by the Westminster Assembly and later approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
It is clear that some will simply ignore all human written testimony, whether Westminster or Bill Dyrness's new book "Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards", but those who seek reformation in the churches, I would encourage you to look at the second reformation.
Study what they did regarding images, idols, pictures of Christ, dances, choirs, organs, play's during worship, etc. I can assure you that there is a great divide in the Presyberian form of worship, and the next reformation may just begun!
"Two essential questions concerning worship have been debated for hundreds of years by churches. The first question asks: How is God to be worshipped? That is, what is the proper and acceptable way to worship God? Even kings of the earth have their "protocol" as to the manner in which they are to be approached.
In the ancient world, to violate that protocol could jeopardize one's life. For example, one appearing in the court of King Ahasueras (cf. the book of Esther) could literally lose his life if he failed to follow the acceptable protocol. Is it then strange to consider that if earthly kings who rule by God's authority and are His ministers of justice demand such honor that the King of kings Himself should be treated with less honor? For He too has a "protocol" as to how He must be approached and worshipped by His people.
The second question asks: What are the limits of authority possessed by church officers in imposing liturgical forms of worship on members of a church? That is, when a church gathers to worship God and church officers lead the congregation in the worship of God, how far can elders legitimately go in establishing various forms of worship for the congregation?"
""Give them something beautiful to hear and look at that correlates with what they're hearing when Scripture is read," said Dyrness, the author of "Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards," a new book published by Baker Press. He is organizing a Feb. 4 seminar at Fuller that will bring together researchers on how visual arts are used in Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox congregations.
A reformation of sorts has been taking place in Protestant denominations which, unlike Catholic and Orthodox churches, historically have shunned images and other art forms lest they detract from the preaching of God's word. Icons, for example are central to worship experience in the Orthodox church and are considered "windows to heaven," Dyrness said.
Many Protestant churches are adding dance, drama, music, film clips, banners and artwork. Some worship services are eclectic, blending the traditional, modern and contemplative.
Many today may not be able to relate to passages from the King James version of the Bible. But they might relate to them if the story is reset in a hip-hop setting, for example, he said.
"That's what it's all about," Davison said. "The arts give us many ways."