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Bibliography - Visual Arts and Worship

Annotated bibliography related to visual arts, theology and worship.

The following is an annotated bibliography related to visual arts, theology and worship.



Printing the Word: The Art of Watanabe Sadao  (American Bible Society, 2003) 

by American Bible Society 
This is the catalog of the Sadao exhibition in 2001 at the American Bible Society. Beautiful Japanese folk art block/stencil prints with an introduction to Sadao's life and work. Prints and accompanying scripture include: OT, life of Christ, teachings, miracles, and passion of Christ.

Bound for glory.jpg Bound for Glory: Celebrating the Gift of African American Spirituals through Expressive Calligraphy  (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011) 
by Timothy R. Botts 
This is Botts' latest collection of 52 calligraphic paintings based on African American spirituals. Reflective readings by Patricia Raybon, lyrics to the songs, and scripture texts are included. Other published works include: Doorposts (1986), Messiah (1991), Proverbs (1994), The Book of Psalms (1997), Best-Loved Bible Verses (1999), The Holy Bible (2000), Portraits of the Word: Great Verses of the Bible in Expressive Calligraphy (2001).
Art that tells the story.jpg Art that Tells the Story (Gospel Through Shared Experience, 2011)
by Christopher R. Brewer
An exploration of biblical stories within overarching themes of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. The stories are told through reflections, scripture, and contemporary art work seen in full color.
There is a season.jpg There is a Season (Orbis Books, 1995)
by Joan Chittister and John Swanson
Theologian and artist meet with these reflections (in text and image) on the book of Ecclesiastes. Other published works together include: The Story of Ruth (2000)
How god fix jonah.jpg How God Fix Jonah (Boyds Mills, 2000)
by Graham Lorenz and Ashley Bryan
Bible stories of Jonah, Daniel and Ruth told in a lyrical idom of West Africa. These verses have the rhythm of drums and can therefore be enjoyed best when read out loud.
Dwelling with Philippians: A Conversation with Scripture through Image and Word (Eerdmans, 2010)
by Elizabeth Steele Halstead
This rich, inviting volume illumines Paul’s letter to the Philippians through evocative juxtapositions of visual images, poetry, and other worship-related arts, with theological reflections, prayers, and more. The book’s multidimensional approach creates abundant space for unhurried contemplation, whether in individual reflection or group study. It invites readers to dwell with Philippians—to slow down, to explore the texture and palette of Paul’s message in a deliberately measured way, to be drawn into the mystery, beauty, and life-changing power of this joyful biblical letter.
The psalms an artist impression.jpg The Psalms: An Artist's Impression (InterVarsity Press, 1999)
by Anneke Kaai and Eugene Peterson
Twenty-five paintings grace the pages of The Psalms. The Dutch artist Anneke Kaai explains the imagery and color symbolism she uses to express the psalm on which each painting is based. At the same time, extracts from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson allow the reader to encounter and meditate on a contemporary rendition of the scripture passages.Other published works by Kaai include: In A Word: See What You Believe (2003), From Beginning to End: Creation, Ten Commandments, Apostle’s Creed, The Apocalypse (2007), Seeing a New Song: The Psalms Connection (2008), She Shall be Called Woman (2009)
Imaging the word.jpg

Imaging the Word (Volumes 1-3) (United Church Press, 1994-1996)

by Kenneth Lawrence, Susan Blain and Sharon Gouwens
Imaging the Word is a stimulating combination of images, writings (quotes, sayings, poetry and prayers), with the scripture readings organized on the Lectionary (the volumes have an excellent scripture index for churches that do not follow the lectionary cycle). With such a broad selection from around the world and over time, one or more are sure to stimulate ideas for your church's particular needs.

The glorious impossible.jpg The Glorious Impossible (Simon & Schuster Young Readers, 1990)
by Madeleine L'Engle
For the children of all ages in the congregation, a book on the life of Christ illustrated with the frescos from the Scrovegni Chapel, Padova, Italy, by Giotto. Other published works include: Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith and Art (1980)
Christ for all people  book cover.jpg Christ For All People: Celebrating a World of Christian Art (Orbis Books, 2001)
by Ron O'Grady
Christ for All People begins with a brief historical overview of depictions of Christ, then focuses on contemporary artistic interpretations of the life of Christ from every continent of the world—from the annunciation, through Christ’s ministry, to the final triumph. Reflections on the images, by artists and writers, invite the reader to contemplate on the many faces of Christ. Scripture passages are included.
Drawn to the light.jpg Drawn to the Light (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003)
by Marilyn McEntyre
Through McEntyre’s poems, which are based on observing Rembrandt’s paintings, we encounter anew not only the mystery of the interplay of light and dark in Rembrandt’s masterpieces but of the connection to our own lives which the Word still holds for us today.
The bible through asian eyes.jpg The Bible Through Asian Eyes (Pace Publishing, 1991)
by Masao Takenaka
Organized by the Old Testament and then New Testament, The Bible Through Asian Eyes helps us see familiar things in a new perspective. Works from Japan to India, Australia to China is presented. Each example has information on the artist, a description of the artwork and a scripture reference.
The-Father-and-His-Two-Sons.jpg The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness: Images of the Prodigal Son from the Larry and Mary Gerbens Collection (Eyekons, 2008)

The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most powerful and evocative stories Jesus told. This book includes original art inspired by the story along with reflections on the work and some collector’s notes on the stories behind the artwork.


Ideal for Study, Thought, & Discussion

Visual art in the life of the church.jpeg Visual Art in the Life of the Church: Encouraging Creative Worship and Witness in the Congregation (Augsburg Press, 1983)
by Richard R. Caemmerer, Jr.
Out of print but worth searching for or checking out of the library. Black and white drawings illustrate content that is practical and theologically significant. Caemmerer looks at church history, church liturgy, and the church mission to encourage congregational participation in worship through the use of the arts.
Art and worship.jpg Art and Worship (Liturgical Press, 2002)
by Christopher Irvine and Anne Dawtry
A theological look at the arts in the church. Beginning with a brief history, the authors then turn to guidelines for placing art in churches, for viewing art, and for understanding art for worship. Resource list, references with furthering reading list, and index.
Art in service of the sacred.jpg Art in Service of the Sacred (Abingdon Press, 2006)
by Caherine Kapikian
Art in Service of the Sacred encourages congregations to take seriously the role of visual art in worship and in the broader life of the church. Case studies are used to explore the dynamics between art, artist, and the church. A DVD is included to show before and after pictures of space installations, vestments, etc. in color.
A place for baptism.jpg A Place for Baptism (Liturgy Training Publications, 1992)
by Regina Kuehn
Mark Searle states in the forward to A Place for Baptism: “Kuehn has written a book that does far more than offer ten tips on how to upgrade your baptistery. She draws on the riches of scripture, history and contemporary liturgy to unfold the symbolic or sacramental dimensions of the baptismal font. Why is this important? It is important because, after about a thousand years… we have recently come to reappropriate a much older mentality which saw the whole rite and its participants and its timing and the spatial context of its unfolding as sacramental.”
The return of the prodigal son a story of homecoming.jpg The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (Doubleday, 1992)
by Henri J.M. Nouwen

A spiritual classic with the use of Rembrandt’s painting on the Prodigal Son. Sure to inspire a sermon as well as a new interest in the visual arts as biblical commentary. Other publications include: Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons (1987/2002).
Art and the bible.jpg

Art and the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 1973)

by Francis A. Schaeffer
A classic. In this small pamphlet Schaeffer discusses the place of art in the Christian life. In the first essay he looks at scripture’s references to art, while the second essay is on developing a Christian perspective on art from which we consider and evaluate works of art.

Rainbows for the fallen world.jpg Rainbows for the Fallen World: Aesthetic Life and Artistic Task (Tuppence Press, 1980)
by Calvin Seerveld
Out of print with limited availability, yet a classic worth finding. A must-read for anyone interested in aesthetics. Covers topics such as the biblical charter, an obedient aesthetic life, the contribution of Christian aesthetics to reading the Bible, theory, and modern art. Appendices look at iconography, the Reformation, "glory to God in the kitchen," and Henry Moore. Other publications include: Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves: Alternate Steps in Understanding Art (2000)
Art and worship a vital connection.jpg Art and Worship: A Vital Connection (Liturgical Press, 1991)
by Janet R. Walton
An excellent resource to begin studying connections between art and worship— looking to the past, listening to the church and listening to artists plus thinking about the future with principles for partnership between the artist and the church.


Perfect for small group study on worship and congregational life


Spaces for spirit adorning the church.jpg Spaces for Spirit: Adorning the Church (Liturgy Training Publications, 1998)
by Nancy Chinn
It's getting harder to find this gem! Keep searching! Chinn talks of the process of doing art, the practicalities of forming an art committee, but more importantly, she looks at why using the visual arts would benefit the church and enhance worship. The use of case studies is helpful and the wide variety of ideas can be tailored to any size church.
Visual faith art theology and worship in dialogue.jpg Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Baker Book House, 2001)
by William A. Dyrness
In Visual Faith, Dyrness shares insights into the biblical, historical, theological and practical relationship between the arts and worship. This overview would be particularly helpful for churches beginning a dialogue on worship and the arts. Excellent sections on dealing with contemporary challenges, new opportunities for Christian involvement in the arts, and how culture can be engaged. Includes bibliography for further study. Other published works include: Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards (2004), Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship (2008) Other published works include: Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards (2004), Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship (2008)
The substance of things seen.jpg The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community (Eerdmans, 2004)
by Robin M. Jensen
In a pragmatic way Jensen looks at “the arts as a way of expressing, exploring, forming, and challenging faith” [author’s preface]. Six essays “open the conversation” on art and spiritual formation, visual exegesis, idol or icon, moving beyond decorative and didactic, distinction of place and space, and a conversation on taste and religious value. Other publications include: Understanding Early Christian Art (2000); Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity (2004)
Church architecture book cover.jpg Church Architecture: Building and Renovating for Christian Worship (Abingdon Press, 2002)
by James F. White and Susan J. White
In its second printing, this book has been a standard work in the area of church architecture. This is a must-read for those thinking of building or reorganizing their worship space. The authors discuss six distinct spaces: gathering space, movement space, congregational space, choir space, altar-table space, and baptismal font- pulpit space, to see how space functions as an essential agent in forming the worship life of the congregation. Other publications include: Protestant Worship and Church Architecture:Theological and Historical Considerations (1964)


Practical resources


Images of Faith (CIVA, 2009)
by Sandra Bowden (ed.)
An interactive application of images and essays centered on biblical themes. It contains 100 images by contemporary artists to be used for projection in teaching, preaching, and devotional purposes by churches, colleges, and seminaries. The interactive application brings you to the current websites of the artists to explore their work further.
visualsforworship.jpg Visuals for Worship (CD included) (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2006)
by Elizabeth Steele Halstead
Visuals for Worship offers beautiful original woodcut images by Elizabeth Steele Halstead for your church to use in a variety of ways. Halstead combines symbols with explanations of their theological and historical background and biblical references. Accompanied by a CD so you can download high-resolution images for a professional look on bulletin covers, banners, and more.
Raise the banners high.jpg Raise the Banners High!: Making and Using Processional Banners (Liturgy Training Publications, 2002)
by Pamela Hardiman and Josephine Niemann
A banner book for beginners as well as for advanced textile artists and their pastors. The first chapter begins where we all should begin, asking “Why.” Why do we celebrate and use banners in worship? How do we bring together elements of worship and make a coherent whole from all of the parts? A look at the liturgical year is included. The second half of the book is about the process. Design patterns, complete instructions, pole and hanging guides, and even a banner stand are described in detail. Excellent list of resources.
Dictionary of biblical imagery.jpg Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An encyclopedic exploration of the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 1998)
by Leland Ryken
This reference book is essential for every pastor, artist, worship committee member and church’s library shelf! No reference book is such a joy to read and so packed with information and references. Each paragraph you read will give you a broader, more vivid picture, and a deeper understanding of the imagery of the Bible.
Clip art of the old testament.jpg Clip Art of the Old Testament (Liturgical Press, 1994)
by Helen Siegl
Though this book is out of print it is worth searching for a used copy or going regularly to the library and checking out. With character and playfulness Siegl’s woodcuts bring to life over a hundred images from Old Testament stories. Organized by books and scripture references. Other publications include Clip Art: Block Prints for Sundays, Cycle A, B, C (1990)
Beholding the glory book cover.jpg Beholding the Glory: Incarnation Through the Arts (Baker Academic, 2001)
by Jeremy Begbie (ed.)
Beholding the Glory is an anthology of eight essays on the engagement between theology, different art forms, and the significance of the incarnation. Contributors include: Trevor Hart (arts), Malcolm Guite (literature), Andrew Rumsey (poetry), Sara B. Savage (dance), Jim Forest (icons), Lynn Aldrich (sculpture), Graham Cray (popular music), and Jeremy Begbie (music). Each essay has an introductory paragraph by Jeremy Begbie, notes, and a bibliography for further reading. Also included is a general index and index of scriptures.
Seeing the psalms.jpg Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor (Westminster John Knox, 2002)
by William P. Brown
This is not just a functional analysis of the psalms but a beautiful exploration of the metaphors. As Brown says, “To read the psalms is to hear their rhythms; to hear them is to behold the rich imagery they convey; to behold the psalms is to feel them in all their pain and promise; and to feel them is, ultimately, to 'taste and see that the Lord is good.' (Ps 34:8a)"
Culture making recovering our creative calling.jpg

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (InterVarsity Press, 2008)

by Andy Crouch

A wonderful exploration of the Christian’s calling to be culture makers. This resource would be a perfect book to read as a group and discuss the biblical approach to creativity and how we interact with the world at our fingertips.

Listen to podcast - Brian Moss interviews Andy Crouch on "Visual Art and Power"

Christianity, Art and Transformation: Theological Aesthetics in the Struggle for Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2001) 

by John W. De Gruchy
Christianity, Art and Transformation explores the historical and contemporary relationship between the arts and Christianity with reference to the transformation of society. Several major themes are discussed, among them the power of images, the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, the nature of beauty and its redemptive capacity, aesthetic existence and Christian discipleship, and the role of art in the public square and in the life of the church. The book is a contribution to the study of theological aesthetics today from both an ecumenical and Reformed perspective, global in its scope yet rooted in the author’s South African context [from the back cover].

Biblical rembrandt.jpg The Biblical Rembrandt: Human Painter in a Landscape of Faith (Mercer University Press, 2004)
by John I. Durham
Written from the perspective of a biblical scholar who has pored over Rembrandt’s testimony, Durham writes not for the art historian, but for those who love the Bible, for those who love Rembrandt, and for those who want to know more about the meeting of this Dutchman and his biblical text. [from jacket cover]
The shoes of van gogh.jpg The Shoes of Van Gogh: A Spiritual and Artistic Journey to the Ordinary (Crossroad, 2004)
by Cliff Edwards
Other publications include: Van Gogh and God: A Creative Spiritual Quest (1989)
At eternitys gate.jpg At Eternity’s Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent van Gogh (Eerdmans, 1998)
by Kathleen Powers Erickson
In this very readable study of Van Gogh, Kathleen Erickson explores the intense spirituality of the painter. Erickson argues (against many Van Gogh scholars) that the artist's mature work reflects not a rejection of Christ so much as a rejection of a dogmatic church, seeing instead in the famous images of his art a profound connection to Christian symbols. Throughout, she helps us to discover the source of the power in Van Gogh's stars and sunflowers. [Doug Thorpe]
The color of light.jpg

The Color of Light: Commissioning Stained Glass for a Church (Liturgy Training Publications, 1999)

by Sarah Hall
With beautiful photographs, The Color of Light introduces the materials, techniques, design and installation of stained glass. A brief review of early uses to 20th century church windows shows the development of the art form. Most helpful for churches interested in stained glass installations are the sections covering design (choosing a designer, a studio, a style, reviewing and approving a design) and commissioning (very helpful committee “to do lists,” and questions a committee should be asking). Appendices include information on maintenance and restoration, resources, and a glossary.

Art in action.jpg Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic (Eerdmans, 1980)
by Nicholas Wolterstorff
This is a must-read for those interested in Christian aesthetics. Wolterstorff explains how works of art are instruments and objects of action. He develops his proposal for a functional approach to art. A bibliography is included.

Bridge to wonder.jpg

Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty (Baylor University Press, 2012)

by Cecelia Gonzalez-Andrieu

An exploration in theological aesthetics that seeks to engage art in order to reveal its religious significance and to mine the depths of creative beauty and discover variegated theological truths that enable greater communion with each other - and the One source of all that is beautiful.




Christ and architecture.jpg

Christ and Architecture: Building Presbyterian/Reformed Churches (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1965)
by Donald J. Bruggink
This historically interesting volume addresses the relationship between theology and architecture. In the first section, a preacher and a theologian discuss the issues. In the second half, an architect presents the practical and technical aspects of achieving theological goals. It contains photos of Reformed churches throughout Europe and the US. Also published: When Faith Takes Form: Contemporary Churches of Architectural Integrity in America (1971, photos and descriptions of 12 North American churches).

Churches judith dupre.jpg 

Churches (HarperCollins Publishers, 2001)
by Judith Dupré
An introductory interview with architect Mario Botto opens Churches. Structures from The Patheon in Italy, Beta Ghiorghis in Ethiopia, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia, Thorncrown Chapel in the U.S., to Santa Maria in Portugal, and many places in between, are presented to the reader. Included on each are photos, architectural drawings, quotes by viewers or artisans, and informative descriptions. A prayer bar with scripture texts runs across the top of each page. Each church presented in the book is referenced separately in the bibliography.

Repitching the tent.jpg

Re-Pitching the Tent (Liturgical Press, 1999)

by Richard Giles
Re-pitching the Tent is an excellent practical guide for worship committees asking practical questions. Exercises are assigned to help you answer these questions of space redesign, including a look at education and neighborhood issues that come into play.

Theology in stone.jpg Theology in Stone: Church Architecture from Byzantium to Berkeley (Oxford University Press, 2004)
by Richard Kieckhefer
“For individuals and for communities, liturgy is a means of integration. Liturgical formulas and the environments provided for them can seem to present a jumble of unrelated images and notions…Liturgy and liturgical space are effective to the extent that they give scope for experiencing and expressing the connections” [p. 137-138].
From meetinghouse to megachurch.jpg From Meetinghouse to Megachurch: A Material and Cultural History (University of Missouri Press, 2003)
by Anne C. Loveland and Otis B. Wheeler
An architectural look at the rise of the evangelical megachurch, designed to attract a large following. This book reviews the evolving models and influences.
An architecture of immanence.jpg An Architecture of Immanence: Architecture for Worship and Ministry Today (Eerdmans, 2007)
by Mark A. Torgerson
Traditional architectural styles highlight the transcendence of God. In An Architecture of Immanence Mark Torgerson asserts that modern architecture has heavily influenced the construction of new sacred spaces, producing a new way of building that emphasizes God’s coming near to us.
Sacred passion.jpg Sacred Passion: The Art of William Schickel (University of Notre Dame Press, 1998)
by Gregory Wolfe
This is an excellent, wonderfully inspiring, example of a contemporary artist working in the Midwest who has mastered the weaving together of all elements of the worship environment into an integrated whole.


Web Resources


Art Resource
Fine art stock photo archive with thousands of searchable fine art images.

Asian Christian Art Association

Art cyclopedia
Fine art search engine.

Fine art archive.

The Bridgeman Art Library
Large art library and image collection with historical and fine art stock licensing.

CIVA: Christians in the Visual Arts


Web Gallery of Art



Timothy R. Botts - calligraphy

Sarah Hall - stained glass

Linda Witte Henke - textiles

Anneke Kaai - painting

Jeanne Logan - textiles

Scott Parsons - stained glass

Jan Richardson - mixed media

Art and the Church

Art Way

Episcopal Church Visual Arts

Worship ANew


Art, Theology, Imagination, and Culture

International Arts Movement
IAM is a cultural movement dedicated to inspiring all people to engage their culture to create a more good and beautiful world. IAM presents lectures, performances, exhibitions, screenings, projects, and workshops.

Transpositions: Theology, Imagination and the Arts
Transpositions is a collaborative effort of students associated with the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at the University of St Andrews whose goal to create conversations between Christian theology and the arts.



Faith and Form
An interfaith journal on religion, art and architecture.

Image: Art, Faith, Mystery

St. John's Bible
A hand-written, illuminated Bible on vellum by calligrapher Donald Jackson, commissioned by Saint John's Abbey and University.