Santa Barbara News-Press, 4/16/06: Protestants find new images of Jesus [Excerpts]—For Harriett Ghormley, art in her hometown Protestant church consisted of empty crosses and a few stained glass windows. There were no statues of Mary cradling Jesus, no paintings of the Last Supper.
She and other art students at the evangelical Westmont College admit that it was a bit of a challenge to think of God in terms of pictures, icons and sculptures.
"We do not use devotional images well in the Protestant tradition," said Lisa DeBoer, an art history teacher at Westmont. After receiving a $10,000 grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich., art students began a project to stretch the limits of traditional Protestant worship. Taking their cue from Catholics and Orthodox Christians, who view icons as central to their faith, the students created pictures based on various stories of Christ's last days on earth.
The project is similar in concept to the Catholic and Anglican tradition of walking the Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season that leads up to Easter. During Easter, Catholics and some Protestants follow a set of 14 pictures or sculptures that depict Jesus during his most horrifying moments: being condemned to death, then forced to carry a heavy cross; falling down, meeting disciples, and finally, death by crucifixion.
Through art and practice, Catholics emphasize that "we are redeemed by virtue of our participation in Christ's suffering," said David Morgan [Valparaiso Art History professor]. Perhaps because of the popularity of "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's brutal film that followed Jesus through the Stations, evangelicals and Protestants are beginning to experience more of his suffering.
Ms. Ghormley, a senior, painted an Eastern Orthodox icon inside a phone booth to depict two disciples unknowingly inviting Jesus, who they thought was a stranger, to dinner. She wanted to juxtapose the ideas of breaking bread with strangers and communication, she said. After completing the project, she began attending St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Goleta.
[TBC: This is just one more example among hundreds revealing the rapid drift away from what God's Word says about how we are to worship Him, i.e., "in spirit and in truth" (John:4:23,24). Will taking the idolatrous "cue from Catholics and [Greek and Russian] Orthodox" worship forms also lead our visually oriented young evangelicals to the same false gospel? This movement is gathering distressing momentum!]