Reformations Revealed Through Art

“The Spirit is always reforming us and that shows up in our art, in our paintings, in our sculptures, and in our architecture” says Allan Rudy-Froese, Assistant Professor of Christian Proclamation at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He also says that sometimes people think that theology and church history are only communicated through books by theologians and historians. However, Allan maintains that “Artists are doing the same work with their hands, with colour, and with shape rather than writing it down in words.”

“Museums are masters of communication,” says Allan. Not only does the architecture embody the values of the builders, but through the museum collections you can glimpse how people in history tried to persuade each other. He says that sometimes art and artifacts show progressive religious ideas while other times they reflect a more traditional view of faith.

While beautiful and worship-inspiring, the art in cathedrals often served a functional purpose. Allan says that stained glass windows and church art “preached the gospel visually” at a time when most people were illiterate.

In July 2017, Allan will be leading the Reformations Old & New: Cathedrals & Museums Tour in London, Paris, and Berlin. In addition to visiting historic art and museum collections, tour members will reflect on contemporary art created by European Christians. The plan is to worship with a local congregation in one of the cities and to engage with an artist.

Allan is known for his collaborative and engaging teaching style. While he looks  forward to sharing insights on the topic of church-wide reformations in Europe, he also eagerly anticipates hearing the personal reformation stories of tour members. “I think that in any room we gather together as people who can teach each other things.” He adds, “We all come from different places…and have experienced God in different ways. We [will] all bring that to the table…well not the table because it’s moving. We bring that to the bus.”

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