The Protestant embrace of visual art is “in its infancy”

I have yet to write very often about the visual arts as it relates to the Christian faith — despite this being one of my passions. This is because, sadly, there isn’t much news about art and faith. However, I feel led to elaborate on my last post and Chad’s comment on that last post.

Bear in mind that, while I do concur (unscientifically) with the observation that Protestants’ are as concerned about the arts as non-Protestants, I still believe that their concern “is in its infancy.”

Chad’s comment pointed out the dire lack of available post-graduate courses on theology and the arts at his own Asbury Seminary. This lack is easily assumed at most other seminaries as well, however Fuller Theological Seminary offers a pretty new program on the arts and worship through its Brehm Center.

Just about to finish my BFA in 2000, I began looking for MFA programs in studio art at Christian colleges. To my chagrin, there were, well, none — at least not at Protestant colleges. I learned that Biola used to offer an MFA in studio art, but it drained too many resources from their BFA program. So they dropped it.

At the same time I began to explore opportunities using my skill and interest in the visual arts in missions. I was equally disappointed in this research. The closest I came to finding a program using visual art (other than graphic design) was YWAM’s DTS program at their University of the Nations. While I liked the outline of the DTS program, they only offered photography and illustration. My interest was sculptural, in mixed media and ceramics. A couple of other opportunities marketing international crafts arose as I spoke with recruiters, but, while they sounded interesting, making art was not in the job description.

Apparently I was a year or two ahead of my time (In other words, the Protestant affirmation of the arts is still in its infancy.). Since 2001, a number of programs developed to properly meld the visual arts (again, other than graphic design) and theology. Among them are the Brehm Center — which in truth is not focused on the visual arts — and OM ArtsLink. I also keep hearing rumors that YWAM’s University of the Nations is adding painting and sculpture to their program, but I’ve yet to confirm this. (CIVA and IAMNY have been around for some years now and do great things. They probably laid significant groundwork for these new projects.)

So, as Chad pointed out in his comment, Protestants’ appreciation and application of the visual arts leaves a lot to be desired — even if it is presently on par with the Catholic and Orthodox appreciation.

See more on the visual arts and Christian faith on this Squidoo lens.

See more on the visual arts and missions on this Squidoo lens.

See the beginnings of a Biblical theology of the arts on this Squidoo lens.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to The Protestant embrace of visual art is “in its infancy”

  1. chad says:

    I can’t really find a contact link, but I would really like to spend some time on this more……there is an email link on my blog…

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