I believe that when Protestantism protested and left the Roman Catholic Church, they reacted against Catholicism’s use of imagery. I believe Protestants have held an ungodly belief that “All use of images constitutes a graven image.”
Their corresponding inner vow was that they would “Reject all uses of imagery in their Christian lives.” The result is that most Protestant books on systematic Christian theology do not even include a section on dream, vision, imagination, or any other application of the eyes of one’s heart. This is startling considering that the biblical stories and actions which came as a result of dreams and visions form a section of Scripture equal in size to the entire New Testament! Their ungodly belief has given them the right to ignore one-third of the Bible.
Another fruit is that Protestants do not lead in drama, theater or the arts. Protestants have great conservative political think tanks (i.e., a left-brain function), but few great Christian performing or visual arts (i.e., a right-brain function). We need to repent of this ungodly belief and inner vow for ourselves and our forefathers, and receive all that the Bible says is ours.
The Negative Judgment: All use of images constitutes a graven image.
The Inner Vow: Therefore, I will reject all uses of images in my Christian life.
The Result: Many Protestant books on systematic theology do not even include a section on dream, vision, imagination, or any other application of the use of the eyes of one’s heart. This is startling considering that the biblical stories and actions which came as a result of dreams and visions form a section of Scripture equal to the entire New Testament!
On the Positive Side
On the positive side of this question of man’s capacity to think visually, I would like to make two points.
1. All of the children and two-thirds of the adults I have polled usually picture Bible scenes as they read them. As we are picturing these Bible stories and praying for a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17), God causes the story to come alive and speaks to us out of it. This is essentially the same process we are describing, of setting scenes in our minds and asking God to grant us revelation, then tuning to the flow of the Holy Spirit and watching the scene come alive as God speaks to us. This is something I teach in Christian University classes.
2. One-fourth of the adults I have polled normally picture the scenes of songs when they worship. As God inhabits our praises, the scenes come alive and move with a life generated from the throne of God. Both of these illustrate the very process I am describing.
Man’s ability to think visually is currently being used unknowingly by many Christians, particularly those who are intuitive and visionary by nature. In reality, visual thinking is not a new thing. We are just defining and clarifying what has been happening naturally for some. As a result of this clear definition and statement, all believers can now be taught to become more sensitive to the divine flow within us.
Summary: Why Is Using the Eyes of Our Hearts Important?
1. God has commanded us to imagine His Word (“meditate” – Josh. 1:8; I Chron. 29:18).
2. Divine creativity comes through image (Ex. 25:9-22; 35:35).
3. When God reasons, He uses imagery (Is. 1:18).
4. When Jesus taught, He used imagery (Matt. 13:34).
5. As Jesus lived, He ministered out of vision (Jn. 5:19,20).
6. God has declared that one of the primary ways He communicates with us is through dream and vision (Num. 12:6; Acts 2:17).
7. God counsels us through our dreams at night (Ps. 16:7).
8. Sight is better than blindness (Jesus healed the blind – Mk. 10:46-52).
9. The Lord’s Supper utilizes imagery (“This is My blood, this is My body, do this in remembrance of Me” – Jn. 6:53,54; I Cor. 11:23-25).
10. Personal transformation occurs while we look into the spiritual realm (II Cor. 3:18; 4:18).
11. Pictures are powerful and produce heart faith (Gen. 15:1,5,6).
12. The Bible is full of pictures, dreams, visions, metaphors, similes, parables, and images (Genesis through Revelation).
13. Our prayers are to be full of imagery (Ps. 23).
14. Our worship is to be full of imagery (Ps. 36:5,6).
Differences Between Idolatry and Setting an Image in One’s Mind
• IDOLATRY: Man (Ex. 32:1)
• IMAGE: God (Ex. 25:9-22; Col. 1:15; Heb. 12:2)
• IDOLATRY: Worship the idol (Ex. 32:8)
• IMAGE: Never worship the image; use the image as stepping stone into divine flow (Rev. 4:1)
• IDOLATRY: The idol remains dead (Is. 44:19)
• IMAGE: Divine flow is prompted (Rev. 4:2)
• IDOLATRY: Pray to the idol (Is. 44:17)
• IMAGE: Never pray to the image; as divine flow is activated, communication with God is established (Rev. 4 – 22)
• IDOLATRY: To worship the thing (Is. 44:15)
• IMAGE: To focus one’s heart before God (II Cor. 3:18; 4:18)
The Attitude of the Heart:
• IDOLATRY: Stiff-necked; proud (Ex. 32:9)
• IMAGE: Seeking God humbly (Prov. 2:1-5)
The Control Issue:
• IDOLATRY: Manipulating God; magic
(I Kings 22:20-23)
• IMAGE: Watching God in action; Christianity (Rev. 4 – 22)
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About The Author:
Mark Virkler is with Christian Leadership University. CLU is a Christian University and Online Bible College offering Christian education including Christian counseling and Christian theology seminaries and offers certificates, undergrad, Masters, and Doctorates in the various Christian colleges of CLU.