What is Visual Theology and why does the global church absolutely need it?
Visual theology is a re-imagination of theological education for oral / visual learners especially in non-western academic contexts.
Perhaps, the best explanation is an illustration. Read carefully Ephesians 1:19–23. Look for the visual images created by the Word of God:
... 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Historically, the preacher has been at the center of the proclamation & exhortation of the Word of God, because he was the literal means by which the people had access to the Word of God. Remember in ancient times, most could not read and almost every person, if not all, did not have personal access to the written word. Rather, they would gather and listen to one who would read the word of God in the ears of the people.
Moses was commanded to put the word of God in the hearing of the people!
Paul declared that the feet of Gospel proclaimers were most beautiful!
The podium and pulpit were not bully pulpits!!!
Sadly, our teaching and our preaching has moved away from the simple exposition and exhortation of the Word of God in exchange for complex, confusing, abstract “what is he even saying" type theological statements or worse opinions of charismatic leaders who use the Word as a bludgeon and/or a springboard into their own philosophies and self-help teachings. Both of these go next level into confusion among leaders & students unfamiliar with Western Christian Contexts, the academy, or with theological English!
Visual Theology brings the Word of God back to its central location
Visual Theology brings the Word of God back to its central location by two fundamental means.
It places the word of God before the face of the students… LITERALLY. It focuses on what is central in the text by highlighting and visual drawing out images created by the text.
It offers basic methodology for unpacking meaning of the word of God, word by word, phrase by phrase, clause by clause & sentence by sentence. Although Greek and Hebrew grammar are important and should not be overlooked in the Biblical Interpretative process, they are not required for identifying, understanding, and teaching the simple and most fundamental truths taught to us in the Bible. Even a simple Waray-Waray Farmer from the Philippines can not only understand these eternal truths but also teach them to their context.
Converge has invited us to continue our education in developing Visual Theology for the Global Church. This is one critical part in our corporate prayer to Almighty God for a gospel movement in every least reached people group in our generation.
Tim & Bethany Spears, Missionary
Partner with the Spears, as they equip the next gen of global workers and indigenous leaders and develop visual theological training for oral learners.
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