Biblical Philosophy of the Worship Arts

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

Throughout the history of the Christian church, worship has made use of the fine arts as vehicles for bringing glory to God and for augmenting the worshiper's awareness of the presence of God. In considering the biblical foundations for Christian worship, therefore, it is appropriate to give attention to the biblical perspective on the arts, as explained in these five entries.




The Worship Arts In Biblical Perspective

The biblical doctrine of Creation has important implications for the use of the fine arts in worship, as does the doctrine of the Incarnation. The scriptural view of humankind as created in God's image, the concept of inspiration, and the biblical understanding of the covenant also contribute their perspective on the fine arts. The arts are uniquely capable of expressing the nonrational element in the worship experience.

The Visual Arts In Worship

As worship arts, the visual arts include architecture, sculpture, painting, mosaic, and the crafting of artifacts. These arts create durable objects that may be seen and handled. Although of lesser importance in the biblical perspective than some other art forms, the visual arts may serve as effective windows into the holy.

Music as a Worship Art

Music plays an integral part in biblical worship. As one of the arts most accessible to the ordinary worshiper, it became important in the expression of the faith of the corporate community.

Movement Arts In Worship

Worship and liturgy not only involve the use of the fine arts but may themselves be understood as art forms within the broader category of dance and other movement arts. These arts contribute to the worshiper's awareness of something "happening" in the corporate celebration of the people of God.

The Literary Arts

By far the most important of the fine arts in Israel and the early church was the field of literature. The Bible itself is the result of the sensitivity of literary artists to the Spirit of God. Each of the many forms of biblical literature contributes to our understanding of the philosophy of the worship arts.