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Mark Dever on visual elements in worship

From Matthew Pinson, ed., J. Perspectives on Christian Worship: Five Views. City: B&H Academic, 2009.

The day will come when we will worship God by sight (Rev 22:4), but until that day New Testament worship is worship of the living Word as we hear and heed His Word in our lives. In that sense, true New Testament visual worship is not the painting or sculpture we craft. We have no record of Jesus teaching His disciples to sculpt or commanding them to draw. On the other hand, Christ’s teachings model the priority of the Word and command His followers to
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teach and obey. Furthermore, drama was a carefully honed skill and widely enjoyed aspect of contemporary Hellenistic culture. however, nowhere in the biblical or extrabiblical evidence do we see New Testament Christians employing this medium. If Kimball’s thesis is correct, this omission seems inexplicable. In fact, it is not hard to understand. The New Testament is clear that the visual aspect of gospel worship is the life we live before a watching world that is then moved to praise God for the love and good deeds they see in us (Matt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:12).

The day will come when we will worship God by sight (Rev 22:4), but until that day New Testament worship is worship of the living Word as we hear and heed His Word in our lives. In that sense, true New Testament visual worship is not the painting or sculpture we craft. We have no record of Jesus teaching His disciples to sculpt or commanding them to draw. On the other hand, Christ’s teachings model the priority of the Word and command His followers to teach and obey. Furthermore, drama was a carefully honed skill and widely enjoyed aspect of contemporary Hellenistic culture. however, nowhere in the biblical or extrabiblical evidence do we see New Testament Christians employing this medium. If Kimball’s thesis is correct, this omission seems inexplicable. In fact, it is not hard to understand. The New Testament is clear that the visual aspect of gospel worship is the life we live before a watching world that is then moved to praise God for the love and good deeds they see in us (Matt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:12). (350-351)

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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