1. John-Paul Himka

    Our churches are designed with the Liturgy, not Scripture, in mind. The Book of Revelation does not figure much in Orthodox worship. We use Scripture readings in a liturgical context. We do not regard “the Bible” as a handbook to salvation.

    1. Nevertheless, there is a strong consensus in the history of Orthodox liturgical art that a temple is an icon of Heaven, and of the New Jerusalem rather specifically. The Bible may not be a handbook of salvation, but the descriptions of Heaven in the Book of Revelation, along with similar passages in the Old Testament, are definitely a handbook to the visual imagery of Heaven. Revelation is therefore a key text for the liturgical theology of church art.

      You say churches are designed for liturgy. But all those liturgical things – like the Cherubic Hymn sung while carrying Seraphic fans into the altar – where does that imagery come from? From scripture of course – and mostly from the parts we don’t read liturgically.

      All those epistles of Paul that we read so much in church, on the other hand, are not so useful when it comes to architectural design!

  2. Ben Foster

    I want to thank Father John for beautifully putting into words what I and hopefully many countless Christians are desiring. For most of my life I have been a Protestant. For years I have yearned to meet with God and instead entered into a building devoid of meaning besides a cross somewhere in a building with white walls. I thank God for these well-meaning brothers, but I yearn for beauty and majesty not just in heaven but here, now, today. Our churches should be like stepping into the divine council, in beauty and form, engaging all of our senses. Maybe this is why God made me a artist.

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