OPENERS // Thursday, Sept 28 9:30-10:50am (Rm 210)
An Argument for Visual Theology
Within Christianity, and evangelicalism more specifically, theology has always been an act of the word. This paper argues for an expanded definition of theology to include theology produced in a visual and not just a verbal language. Theology is more than “words about God.” It can rightly be thought of more broadly as “discourse about God” and as a result should be associated with visual as well as verbal inquiry. This paper uses Millard J. Erickson’s definition of theology as “that discipline which strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily upon the scriptures, placed in the context of the culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life” to argue that visual inquiry and artistic production can fit the definition of theology and, in fact, may address some theological concepts more appropriately than verbal inquiry. Erickson’s definition contains four requisite elements. Theology must be 1) coherent, 2) within the context of culture, 3) in contemporary idiom, and 4) related to issues of life. These can all be fulfilled by visual inquiry. It may be that the same eternal nature that resides within humanity pushes us toward both theological and artistic expression. If that is so, they are likely both different expressions of the same. Verbal theology and visual theology are, in the end, both theology.
Rondall Reynoso studied art and art history at the Pratt Institute where he received his MFA in painting and a Masters in art history. Currently he is in the PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union studying art history and aesthetics in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion. His work has been exhibited in over eighty solo and group exhibitions across North America, and his research has been presented at conferences across North America. Reynoso spent four years as Chair of the art department at Louisiana College and has taught at several private and state institutions including California College of the Arts.