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Winter 2014/Fuller Live!

Menlo Park and Pasadena



TC516: THEOLOGY, WORSHIP, AND ART. William Dyrness.

DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to Christian reflection and practice in the visual arts. The major emphases will be (1) the actual practice of viewing and making art in the context of prayer and meditation, focusing on art and character; (2) the historical and theological context of art and faith; and (3) the role of the arts in the wider community and in worship. By lectures, discussions, art projects and museum visits, students will engage with significant examples of art as a way of developing a critical appreciation and a Christian appropriation of this dimension of life—with respect to its value for worship and witness.

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: A major characteristic of the past half-century is the renewal of Christian worship on the one hand and a major advance in Christian participation in the visual arts. Christians involved in ministry will be challenged with integrating the Christian understanding of the arts and culture into the demands of ministry, especially in the context of worship and spirituality.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Through reading, viewing and discussion of images, museum visits, and the experience of making art, students will (1) explore and reflect on the role of the place of the arts in the church; (2) see, experience, and enjoy the connection between the visual arts and spirituality and worship; and (3) integrate this with the student’s own devotional and worship practices.

COURSE FORMAT: Class will meet weekly in three-hour sessions. The course will include brief lectures and discussion that seek to give students a basic historical and theological orientation. But the focus will be on engaging works of art and reflecting on them as they relate to the spiritual and devotional life of the student.


Daniel A. Siedell. God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. Baker, 2008. ISBN: 978-0801031847, Pub. Price $25.00 [165 pp.].

Dyrness, William. Visual Faith: Art, Theology and Worship in Dialogue. Baker, 2001. ISBN: 978-0801022975, Pub. Price $22.00 [160 pp.].

Miles, Margaret. Image as Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity and Secular Culture. Beacon Press, 1985; reprint by Wipf and Stock. ISBN: 978-1597529020, Pub. Price $25.00 [50 pp.].

Steiner, George. Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say? Faber, 1989. ISBN: 978-0226772349, Pub. Price $17.00 [200 pp.].

Zelensky, Elizabeth, and Lela Gilbert. Windows to Heaven: Introducing Icons. . . . Baker/Brazos, 2004. ISBN: 978-1587431098, Pub. Price $18.00 [200 pp.].

RECOMMENDED READING: See course syllabus for recommended texts.

ASSIGNMENTS AND ASSESSMENT: The course grade will depend on four elements.

  1. A 7-8 page reflection paper on the experience of visiting the Norton Simon Museum and making art (25%).

  2. Take-home midterm (25%).

  3. A project/paper that can focus on an artist or an art movement, or reflect on use of art in worship, individually or in small groups (40%).

  4. Class participation, studio session, and visit to museum (10%).


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets the culture (CULT) requirement in Cultural Literacy for MA programs; meets the MACL in Integrative Studies requirement for an interdisciplinary course (IDPL).


NOTE: This ECD is a reliable guide to the course design but is subject to modification. Textbook prices are set by publishers and are subject to change.