Visual Arts in the Worshiping Church
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More About This Title Visual Arts in the Worshiping Church


Although numerous studies have examined biblical and theological rationales for using the visual arts in worship, this book by Lisa J. DeBoer fills in a piece of the picture missing so far — the social dimensions of both our churches and the various art worlds represented in our congregations.
The first part of the book looks at Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism in turn — including case studies of specific congregations — showing how each tradition’s use of the visual arts reveals an underlying ecclesiology. DeBoer then focuses on six themes that emerge when Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant uses of the visual arts are examined together — the arts as expressions of the church’s local and universal character, the meanings attributed to particular styles of art for the church, the role of the arts in enculturating the gospel, and more.
DeBoer’s Visual Arts in the Worshiping Church will focus and deepen the thinking of pastors, worship leaders, artists, students, and laypeople regarding what the arts might do in the midst of their congregations.


Lisa J. DeBoer is professor of the history of art at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. This is her first book.


Robin M. Jensen
—author of The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community
"Lisa DeBoer's wise and insightful volume is an indispensable resource for anyone who believes that art can enrich the worship and deepen the faith of individuals and congregations alike. Her sensitive consideration of the practices of different Christian communities is especially valuable, opening up the conversation and inviting readers to learn from the experiences of others. This readable and accessible work is both challenging and encouraging."

W. David O. Taylor
—editor of For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts
"All too often scholars and laypeople indulge in careless generalizations about art in the church. When I read them, I think Which church? What art? For what context? And to what end exactly? When the terms are muddled, conversations about the liturgical arts often devolve, regrettably, to a confused, frustrating, and fruitless exchange. Thankfully, DeBoer is a careful scholar; her study of the visual arts in worship is both concrete and illuminating, and it points to a fruitful way forward."

Nicholas Wolterstorff
—from the foreword
"DeBoer's dominant concern is not to tell readers how the church should engage the arts but to uncover how actual congregations in different traditions do in fact engage the arts and why they engage them as they do. It's a groundbreaking approach, full of fascinating details and perceptive analyses."