Q. Where should a church be drawing the line in the use of visual arts in Christian worship?
Our worship director indicated that he is going to be bringing more visual arts into worship so that there are additional means for the range of worshipers to express themselves in worship since some make connections visually. He thinks our church is too focused on head knowledge and not enough on expressive worship.
When we came to Christ, we were thrilled to have a church where the Word of God of God and the Holy Spirit were the focus. One concern is whether the Word will be de-emphasized in any way through this move to the visual or the senses.
I don’t want to be overly dogmatic because I love expressive worship. I know we are cautioned about visual representations in worship through the second commandment. But honestly, I don’t know where the line should be drawn in this area. What are your thoughts?
A. A lot of people don’t realize this, but the prohibition against making a physical image of God or anything else in creation is in the context of idol worship. (Exodus 20:4-5) In other words, It isn’t the visual representation that’s the problem, but whether it becomes an object of worship. If the picture of a beautiful mountain range gives you a greater appreciation of its Creator and causes you to draw closer to Him, it has served its purpose, because that’s what it was placed there for. It’s when you begin worshiping the mountain that you have a problem (Romans 1: 20-23).
It’s easier to believe in what you can see than in what you can’t. For example in some parts of the church the occurrence of visible signs is a substitute for Biblical understanding and results in the promulgation of false doctrine. Paul called this having zeal without knowledge. In other parts you’ll find an emphasis on acquiring a knowledge of God that leaves no room for the work of the Spirit. Jesus called this dead orthodoxy. In John 4:24 Jesus admonished us to worship God in spirit and in truth. Neither one is sufficient alone.
In my opinion any visual representation must be for the purpose of developing both. It must strengthen our faith in the invisible God (Spirit) and it must be Biblically accurate (Truth).