I have noticed a few different churches putting artists on the stage during worship, it really interested me and i thought, what a great way to express worship, I found another post by a lady called "Mindy Painter" (handy name :)  anyways, id love to hear thoughts on this.

I once heard a story of someone being physically healed, the moment
they laid eyes on a painting that had been done during a time of
worship.  Wow!! How amazing is that?!  God uses art to bring healing!

A few months ago, I was asked to paint during worship—something I had
never done before.  My initial reaction was, “How can I do this? I
never paint with an audience.  What if I make a mistake?  Everyone will
be watching!”  I quickly realized that my concerns were all about my
performance and insecurities.  On the contrary, this was supposed to be
about worshiping God.  I needed to get out of the way and allow the Holy
Spirit to move and direct me.  It wasn’t about pleasing people, or
coming up with an incredible piece of art.  This was supposed to be a
selfless offering to my Savior.

Before the service, a group of us gathered to pray and get a sense of
what God might be doing.  I prayed for pictures, colors and ideas to
put on that blank canvas.  Sure enough, a simple picture repeatedly
entered my mind.  The Spirit was totally leading!!!

As the service began, I walked over to the blank canvas, which was
hanging slightly out of view, on a wall off to one side of the room. 
The music started, and all my concerns, fears, and insecurities
instantly vanished!  It was spectacular!!  With each brush stroke and
layer of paint, the Holy Spirit was leading me.  I was facing the wall,
my back to everyone, feeling such freedom, singing my heart out, raising
my hands, and PAINTING!

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is
[Corinthians 3:17]

How does this work practically?  No matter your skill level, I would
encourage you to try this at home.

  1. Have some worship music playing in the background.
  2. Spend some time in prayer, waiting on the Holy Spirit to guide
    you and give you pictures.
  3. Go for it!!  Do whatever type of art you most enjoy…
    drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, writing, photography,
    graphic design, sewing.  There are many options.

If you’d like to try doing art during a worship gathering, I would
recommend setting up the canvas or work area out of main sight.  I know
that it can be cool to watch art being done on stage with the band, but
it can also be incredibly distracting. At our church, we have the art
area off to one side of the room.  That way, people are able to fully
focus on God rather than watching the artist’s every move, and when they
are done engaging in worship, they can have a look at what has been
created.  Also, don’t feel the pressure to have a completed work of art
during one worship-set. Take your time. It might be several weeks before
you are finished. Lastly, remember your art is an offering of worship
to God.  Once you finish a piece, let it go.  It shouldn’t matter if it
gets displayed for the whole world to see or covered up so that someone
else can create something later.

It is all about God!  May he be glorified in our art!!

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Hmm, I guess I'll throw on a stick of wood also...

God loathes idolatry, He is a jealous God. An idol or graven image, in any form whatsoever like the ones Greg lists, is prohibited by God, and provokes Him to anger.

OK. No argument at all. I do not want to get anywhere near something like that.

So what is it that makes a statue of an animal, for example, into a graven image? Is it only certain animals, like cows or doves? I can't imagine we would say every single cow sculpture or dove picture that has ever been crafted is an idol.

Is it something to do with its color? Is it just gold cows? Would highlighting a cow sculpture at a 4H county fair (an agricultural festival) with gold spray paint mystically turn it into an idol?

Or is it the location, any sort of religious setting, that turns all images into graven images? The little icon of a cross in most bibles - does its presence in a religious context make it automatically suspect?

I guess the only sensible definition or description I could arrive at from the scriptural context is the intended purpose and actual use of the statue, or sculpture, or painting, or image. God forbade the making of images that people would "worship" or "bow down to" or "follow after" or "serve" or "sacrifice to." God will not allow any idol or false god to displace Him, to receive the worship or honor or loyalty or adoration or prayer because these things belong to HIM ALONE.

So I can't help but think the question of whether a particular type of art is displacing God in some way has got to be addressed in the specific context in which it is occurring. I would think it involves both the intent of the artist (Aaron was intentional in his crafting of the cow as a god) as well as the understanding and intention of the people (that's what they wanted).

If a particular image or group of images is neither intended as, nor perceived as, an image of God, nor as something to be worshiped or bowed to or prayed to or adored or followed, I can't see how it violates the Second Commandment.

Conversely, if the same or similar images at a different church result in people serving, bowing down, worshiping, sacrificing to, praying to, or honoring those images, it seems that church has a Second Commandment problem on their hands.

Yes, that does require discernment.
That's a good chunk of wood that is!

This is just all of us thinking and mulling out loud - right?

You make some good points. I'm going to zero in on your last two paragraphs - it looks like you're saying that intention and perception are key. I assume you mean that if I perceive that an image isn't actually God, and I create it knowing that it's not God, that's good. It could be a statue of Jesus for instance, but I'm quite sure that it's not Jesus. I'm also going to assume that you mean that if I see an image but don't intend it to be God or intend to worship it, that's good too. So if I stand it up in my narthex and bow in it's direction with intent and perception that it's reminding me to bow to heaven, that's good. Correct me if I got this wrong.

Here's a good comparison - what about the Hindus? We know they violate the first commandment and the Shema because they don't worship Yahweh and they have multiple Gods. But are they also violating the second commandment in some way? They don't think their god is actually in the statue, it's transcendent. They think of the real God when they bow at the temple.

So the intent is correct - think of the real god when you bow. It looks as if they are worshiping the statue, but they will tell you that they are not. They are always intending to worship the transcendent God who is not the statue. It seems that their heart is in the right place - they are not displacing Shiva with a statue. It's only an aid to remind them of Shiva. In fact, they laugh when we say that they worship idols.

So are the Hindus and others like them only violating the first commandment and the Shema, or are you saying that their outward reverence and bowing at a statue is wrong in and of itself? Is the bowing at a statue of Jesus then a second commandment thing no matter the intent of the heart?

By the way - I always thought that Aaron knew the calf was wrong, he just wanted to appease and quite the mob by giving them what they wanted.
Yes, Stevo, it's pretty hard to separate the first and second commandments from each other, isn't it?

Personally, I do not want to bow to an image, even if neither the artist nor I believe the image to be God or a god. I have a very healthy fear on that topic and tend to draw my line perhaps farther away than necessary to avoid even coming close to something that God so despises.

That being said, I still would reserve judgment about someone using their artistic talents to glorify God, whether it be a pen, a paintbrush or a guitar pick. Whether it be in a studio or in a sanctuary. Like the Olympic athlete who said God made him fast, and when he ran, he could feel God's pleasure. I don't think that was an idolatrous or arrogant attitude.

Since I have not actually witnessed people painting in church firsthand, I don't know how it would come across. I suspect it might vary from church to church, and from artist to artist. I would hesitate to forbid it across the board. Apart from a work that is intended to be a graven image, the other situations might be somewhat analogous to Paul's instructions about eating meat sacrificed to idols, in that it depends entirely on the context in which it occurs and how it is affecting the people who are present when it occurs . . .
Ah, so you're on the careful side.

"That being said, I still would reserve judgment about someone using their artistic talents to glorify God, whether it be a pen, a paintbrush or a guitar pick. Whether it be in a studio or in a sanctuary."

- So at this point, I'm only trying to steering in the direction related to images or statues that represent God in some way. I've seen a lot of worship paintings that are rather abstract, or portray some beautiful scened in nature or even a person. But then there are paintings of animals that make me wonder. I know He's the "Lion of Judah", but it's just a metaphor. So should we paint that? I don't know.
Yeah, I don't know about the portrayals of God either . . . that is a tough area.

I am probably more careful about myself than others if that makes sense. I would tend to allow others more freedom, with their pastor's approval, to draw their lines (no pun intended) farther out than I would. So I would hold off automatically labeling their endeavors idolatrous, especially when I am not a witness to the context, dare I say "big picture" :)
Yep, good way to be. It seems worth discussing though.
Yes, alot of great points have been made. Hopefully many of us have given this some well-needed thought all the way around, on every "side" of the issue...


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