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TBC Staff

Reformed Protestants No Longer See Images as Idolatrous

(UNDATED) As an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Bruce Marcey belongs to a sermon-centered spiritual tradition that took root nearly 500 years ago with the Bible, the pulpit and the elimination of all distractions -- including art.

Imagine how shocked his forebears might be to see what Marcey does with visual images each week at Warehouse 242, the loft-style church in Charlotte, N.C., where he serves as lead pastor. In his view, no worship service is complete until the congregation has pondered not just the Word proclaimed but also the Word illustrated through a homegrown photograph, painting or film clip.

“We believe the Reformers missed something big," says Marcey, a doctoral candidate in visual rhetoric at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. "When we limit the gospel message to the written and spoken text, we short-circuit it. We truncate it ... The soul is moved by more things than the word" (MacDonald, Religion News Service, December 9, 2004).

[TBC: To the contrary, images limit our concept of God and are expressly forbidden throughout Scripture. God certainly had His reasons. But in only one practical sense, our portrayals of Jesus are shaped by our culture. The invisible God is accultural, which makes Him instantly applicable to every culture. And, according to the scriptures, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans:10:17).]