I was at a conference this week in Manchester on “Theology and the Arts,” and though I am far from a specialist in the study of aesthetics, I thought it would be interesting to hear what this community thinks about the role of art in the church. This could include: painting, sculpture, music, dance, even church architecture and interior design.
Depending on one’s theology, the iconoclasm of the 8th and 16th centuries could either be seen as a biblical corrective or an overzealous use of power (though they were probably a mixture of both).
One reason I raise this topic is because it seems to me that the modern church is perhaps more sympathetic to the use of imagery than ever before (for instance, note how video clips have slowly emerged as a teaching tool in Sunday worship, Bible studies and discussion groups). What is at the root of this trend?
Here are a few questions to spark the discussion among those of us who could not be at this year’s Mockingbird Conference:
What are some pros/cons of the use of the visual (video, painting, statuary, etc) in the modern church?
How would you feel if your church began to press for more “artistic” forms of worship?
Does the use of art signify a theological shift vis-a-vis glory and the cross?
What might the church’s stance on art imply about her relationship to the material world?
Does God forbid such imagery in the 2nd Commandment?