“But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, and the deep things of God.”
The book “Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue Engaging Culture” by William Dryness is about how art enhances over and enriches the overall faith of Christianity. It talks about the basis on which the relationship between the church and visual images stands. It also helps in defining if art can actually add value to the overall faith and religious beliefs. It would help Christians in analyzing how visuals and imagery can actually be used to strengthen the church.
The book is an asset for students and scholars as it provides a substantive look that is amidst the relationship, which stands between the church as well as the imagery, visuals and their effects in the world of Art. Faith and Art has not always been a match like in Israel art was a reflection of God. However, in the faith of Christianity it was for teaching and inspiring others. No matter how the Protestant Church totally banned over any form of art during the Reformation, but it has been to reexamine the overall role of art within worshipping. The author affirms the kind of a revival, renewal and reflects of art to review over the world. In addition, how it is to plays an integral role in shaping up modern Christianity. In the book, he argues about the fact that art should not be limited to religious themes when used within religion instead; it should be a part of recovery of a biblical view of art specifically for Protestants. He thinks that art helps in understanding beauty and the imagery connected along with it. The author has reflected over the importance of visual faith in theology and the corrected error, which had totally plagued the Protestant community for a long time.
It is amazing the way the author has helped one walk through the facts about art and connected them along with religion and theology is not only interesting to read phase by phase but it also helps in analyzing what impact does these visual keys would have in the mind of the believer.
The book is a fruit for thought to those who study religion, the religious scholars or those having a keen interest in religious studies. It helps understand the value of art in religion and why it matters so much and how it brings along a completely new reflection within the overall theme and study of religion. The book in itself reflects different phases of religion that helps one to work through understanding how visuals and art have helped people understand their faith in a better way. However, there is a lot, which they cannot see in the present, relate to it, and have a firm belief in what is being said; therefore, visual aspects of art can play a major role. It helps in reviving faith and connecting back to it every time there are visual symbolic, with which one can connect. Dryness affirms the order and wholeness of the world God created, can and should play an important role in modern Christianity and “how we need the resources of the spirit to provide a spiritual and theological depth that will sustain us for the long journey ahead.”
On a Personal Note
There are different elements within the Old Testament tabernacle or temple. We know that each element was a visual representation of a greater truth. The sacrificial system and later the cross were also meant to be visual—visual theology. God’s priority on the visual is not just evident in His creation. Throughout Scripture there are certain worship experiences with stunning visual effects to enhance the experience. For example, in Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the Lord. From that vision, he was able to write about the Lord being high and lifted up and the train of His robe filling the temple.
John Piper wrote, “If you are God, your work is to create out of nothing. If you are not God, but like God—that is, if you are human—your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make Him look great.” Our greatest and most important reason for anything we do in corporate worship should be to glorify the Lord. What better way to make Him “look great” than through art that people can see? When we combine wise knowledge of sound theology with a visual, readable, inviting style and frequent perceptive insights into practical Christian living, it enhance our worship.
I believe the marriage between reverent artistic expression and sound theology is a priority in our weekly gathering: The wealth of resources and worship add a new depth and richness to understanding the wisdom that God inhabits the praise of God’s people. However, sound theology is based on sound exposition of God’s Holy Word. It transforms our lives as it directs our behavior and thereby becomes woven into the very fabric of our lives. We can see artistic expression takes on many forms, whether it is painting, writing poems or books, composing music, or one of the thousands of other ways that people express themselves artistically.
According to Jeremy Begbie, “Sound theology” is “being wise in the world of music from a Christian perspective [and] means being aware of music’s powers and the way some sound patterns are especially well suited to drawing us into the purposes of God. One of these powers is the way that music can represent tensions and resolutions.” That being said, are you worshiping God or just enjoying the music?
.Dryness, William A. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue Engaging Culture. Kindle ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
 Todd E. Johnson and Dale Savidge, Performing the Sacred (Engaging Culture): Theology and Theatre in Dialogue. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009).
 Delwin Brown, Sheila Greeve Davaney, and Kathryn Tanner, Converging on Culture: Theologians in Dialogue with Cultural Analysis and Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press on Demand, 2001).
 Robert K. Johnston, Reel Spirituality (Engaging Culture): Theology and Film in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006).
 William A. Dryness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue Engaging Culture. Kindle ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001).
 Dryness, Visual Faith.
 John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 139.
 Jeremy Begbie, Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007).