Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

18 Nov 2014

If Churches Work for Artistic Excellence, Do They Risk Enlisting the Unregenerate in Worship?

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Churches that are concerned for artistic excellence in worship will often employ unregenerate musicians to “lead in worship.” Though these individuals do not know God, as skilled musicians they are able to offer fine presentations in the worship service. Is this a biblical practice? If churches are concerned about offering fine presentations in their worship service, will they be forced to enlist unregenerate people to lead in worship? The answer to this question can be a resounding “no.” But if we are to offer that “no,” we must understand what we mean by “artistic excellence” and what we mean by “leading worship.”

Worship cannot be offered by those who do not know God through Jesus Christ. Thus, it would be impossible to have an unregenerate person leading in worship, since leading would include participating in worship—something an unregenerate person cannot do. Thus, the issue would be whether or not a church’s emphasis on “artistic excellence” would risk enlisting the unregenerate to utilize their skill in facilitating the worship of the regenerate.

This is where 1 Corinthians 12 provides an important reminder. Paul points out that God has carefully designed the body so that each member is integral for the health of the body. No member can claim that they do not need the body nor that the body does not need them. In fact, God has given spiritual gifts to the church in order to edify the body, to unify the body, and to manifest the reality of God’s presence in the world.

These three purposes help shed some light on the differences between a natural ability and a spiritual gift and on when someone gets his/her spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is different from a natural ability because it displays the Spirit, but also because it is designed for the edification of the Church. There is a difference between a person who utilizes teaching in a business or school and someone who utilizes it in the church. The first is a “natural” ability (still given by God), while the second would be a spiritual gift.

Since a spiritual gift is a manifestation of the Spirit, it cannot simply be something someone had prior to salvation. Spiritual gifts are either bestowed at or energized at conversion—when one receives the Spirit. It may be that a natural ability, which is still a gift from God but not a spiritual gift, is energized by the Spirit at conversion for the good of the church. For example, a person may have been a compassionate person before he/she was saved, but at salvation the Holy Spirit takes that compassion and energizes it to minister to others in the church. It may also be that at conversion or sometime thereafter a new gift is given to a person since verses 7 and 11 state that the Spirit gives them as He wills. Thus it is possible that He could choose to add or subtract spiritual gifts when He thinks it will better manifest Himself and edify and unify the church.

I’m inclined to think artistic ability could be a spiritual gift (since there is no definitive list of gifts in the New Testament). But that would mean that either a person gains artistic ability at conversion or, more likely, that artistic ability is now energized for the good of the church. An unregenerate person would not possess that spiritual gift and would not, then, be able to edify and unify the church in its worship. So a church should not enlist the unregenerate in the hopes of accomplishing what only the regenerate can do.

What should a church do if it does not have people with artistic ability to lead in worship? Again, Paul points out that God is in charge of distributing the gifts (v. 11). God has ensured that each church has within itself what it needs to glorify God at that time, which is why it would be best to think of “artistic excellence” along these lines—doing the best with the resources (talent, time, money) that you have. Thus, what artistic excellence means will be different for each church, but each church should be striving for it with the resources God has given.

8 Responses

  1. SB

    Back in college, I was in a conversation with someone in the Men’s Glee Club at U of M – a pretty elite and talented group. I don’t remember the substance of the convo, but he mentioned that in glee club, they sing spiritual songs, and sing them quite well (he’s right, beautiful performances). Wouldn’t it make God happy to hear these songs sung about Him in a well-performed, talented group? he asked. I don’t remember my response, but wish I could send him this article. Micah 6:6-8 is relevant, showing that the offering itself, no matter how accurate or well-performed, is not what God ultimately wants.

  2. Michael Hixson

    When all is said and done, this aspect of church worship may be the greatest achievement of the Christian day school. The combination of Bible-based education with the opportunities afforded in smaller schools lends itself to providing the polish (or artistic excellence) in church music. Any kid who grew up going to a Christian school probably played in the band or sang in the choir (or both!), performed in Christmas, Spring, and fine arts contests, and mostly because his participation was needed just to have the fine arts programs in the first place.

  3. Tim Scott

    A couple of questions…

    (1) Did you actually say what was meant by “leading worship”? I might have missed it, but it seems to me that this was never defined clearly. It does matter for this discussion. Do you consider having an unbeliever play the piano to be leading worship? Or is it the song-leader only?

    (2) What would you say to a believer(s) singing a song in church using a sound recording made by an unbeliever? Would you not have an unbeliever “facilitating” worship in some way? You might ask similar questions about a piano tuner, a hymn book publisher, etc. All instances where unbelievers could be using their skills to enhance worship in churches. After all, Solomon used pagans to ensure the OT temple (read place of worship) was built with excellence.

    (3) Would you encourage an unbelieving visitor to your church to sing, i.e., participate in the worship service? Would you stop them from doing so since they can’t really participate?

    (4) Does Philippians 2:9-11 play any role in this discussion? In that text you have all humanity, believers and unbelievers, confessing Jesus as Lord and God receives glory by it. Does God receive any glory when an unbeliever sings/says biblical truth?

    (5) Do you know anyone who received the spiritual gift of “artistic ability” when they were converted? Not sure I’m sold on the “artistic ability” gift, but I will grant that something similar to it might be present in the case of Bezalel in the OT (Exod. 36:1-2). I’m also a bit puzzled by your statement that an unbeliever would not have this “artistic ability” gift and therefore could not edify the church. Seems to me that artistic ability is artistic ability, regardless of its source. You either are artistic or you’re not. In fact some non-believers have more artistic ability than a believer with spiritual gifts. Not sure I agree with your assessment there, but I’m open to further enlightenment.

    I guess I look at some of this a little bit like what was (maybe still is) the prevailing view of illumination at DBTS. An unbelieving Hebrew scholar can accurately explain what the text of Scripture means by use of good grammatical skill. In fact, I as a believer can be edified by his insights into the text. However, that scholar does not benefit from the text personally because his heart has not been enlightened by the Spirit so he can recognize the truthfulness of what he reads and made personal applications of those truths to his own life.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

    P.S. I am essentially opposed to an unbeliver leading a worship service, but the definition of “leading” makes all the difference I think. I’m not sure I equate “facilitating” or “enhancing” with “leading.”

  4. BE

    I apologize for my delay in response. Let me briefly deal with your five points/questions.

    (1) I did not explicitly define leading in worship, other than to note that leading would by necessity include participating. Since no unbeliever can participate, no unbeliever can lead. I would include any person who is in a prominent position (either visibly or functionally) during the worship service as leading, since their actions have significant influence on how the rest of the congregation worships (leadership/influence). That would include all the musicians, vocalists, song-leaders, etc.

    (2) Personally I don’t like using recorded music in a worship service. However, I think the bigger issue is direct involvement. So, someone who helps tune a piano, publish a hymn, record music, design an auditorium, etc. is not directly involved in the worship service. It is an indirect involvement at most. Thus, I don’t know that it matters whether or not they are believers.

    (3) I don’t know that I would encourage an unbeliever to sing, but I would not discourage him from singing. Whether or not he sings, he is not participating in worship—only participating in singing.

    (4) I think there is a difference between someone worshiping God and God receiving glory. God can receive glory from people even if they do not intend to glorify Him. But worship seems to require intentionality.

    (5) I don’t think I could point to anyone who received the spiritual gift of artistic ability at salvation, but I don’t know that I could point to anyone who received the spiritual gift of teaching at salvation. My point is that it would be possible (at least theoretically) for God to gift someone in that way at salvation. But as I said, it’s more likely that He would energize the artistic ability (or teaching ability) that He already gave the person (“natural” ability) for the edification and unification of the church and the manifestation of the Spirit. And the person would only be using his spiritual gift if he used his artistic ability in that way. (cf, my point about teaching in a business vs. in the assembly)

    The remainder of your question confuses natural ability with a spiritual gift. An unbeliever would not have the SPIRITUAL gift of artistic ability—what they possess can’t be a spiritual gift because they do not possess the spirit. Unbelievers may be much more talented artistically, or much more gifted as teachers (or administrators, or servants, etc.) than unbelievers. But their ability is not energized by the Spirit for the good of the church.

    Which means I don’t think I would disagree much from your comparison to illumination. Where I might tweak it is to say that, though I may or may not benefit spiritually from something an unbeliever does, that does not mean they have a spiritual gift. And since they don’t have a spiritual gift, we should not rely on their ability in the worship service to accomplish something that requires the work of the Spirit. God has stated he gave spiritual gifts to those who have the spirit for the good of the church, so why would I look to those He has not given these gifts for the worship of our church (again, speaking about direct involvement).

    Hope this clarifies,


  5. Tim Scott


    I appreciate your feedback even if we do not see completely eye to eye on this. In the main, I agree with you, but I come at it a bit differently, and thus I may be a bit more charitable toward those who might allow an unbeliver to be a musician in a church service. A few thoughts that correspond to the 5 points I’ve raised:

    (1) Your post makes more sense with the definition. I, however, tend to see “leading worship” as a pastoral function rather than a spiritual/artistic ability issue. As such, I tend to see worship leading as being focused on/in the person actually leading the worship (song leader/worship pastor/whatever other hip title for it there may be) and not the piano players, etc. My position actually strengthens part of what you are saying in that a pastor obviously has to be a Christian. Therefore, I agree with you that only a Christian can lead worship, but it does not inherently prevent musicians from being unbelievers. You should be aware that there are probably many “evangelicals” who operate with a similar understanding of leading worship. You can disagree with that approach, but it would help bring clarity to your critiques of them.

    (2) I raised the issue of what you call “indirect involvment” because the primary biblical example of someone who was spiritually gifted to help believers worship (Bezalel, Exod 36) was not a song leader or musician but a craftsman who constructed much of the temple furniture and such. Importantly, the classical understanding of “art” involves much more than music. Hence the word “artisan” can refer to builders, wood-workers, etc. Thus, if there is a spiritual gift of artistic ability, it would seem to go beyond music and direct involvment in worship services. If an unbelieving A/C man can help create a comfortable environment for a worship service, could he not also help create a pleasing musical environment?

    (3) I agree completely with you when you wrote, “Whether or not he sings, he is not participating in worship—only participating in singing.” This is a most helpful distinction. I want to be clear that I am not saying that an unbeliever can truly worship. He doesn’t have the heart for it (I am a 5-point Calvinist after all!). The reason I raise this question is that it could be possible for an unbeliever to participate in music without worshipping, right? On your definition of worship leading, you wouldn’t allow it for any prominent musician, so no need to make that point again. I am curious what you would think of having the children of a church sing a special in church. They would be in a “prominent place” and in many if not most cases, they would be unbelievers. Is it wrong to have the 5 years olds sing “Jesus Loves Me” in church? My definition of “leading worship” would allow for it; I’m not sure yours does. Thoughts?

    (4) Completely agree with you on this point.

    (5) I think this is our main point of disagreement. You say that I’m confusing natural and spiritual gifts when it comes to artistic ability. I’m actually questioning the existence of the latter altogether. I agree with you completely that unbelievers do not have the “spiritual gift of artistic ability.” My question is does anyone have this gift? You have argued without proof that there is a spiritual gift of “artistic ability.” You actually have gone farther than that–you are making a case against unbelievers participating in a church service on the basis of this unproven idea. The NT, by and large, says very little about artistic ability. The OT, as I pointed out above, does give an instance of it with Bezalel, but he was not involved in the direct worship activities of the OT assembly. In the case of Bezelel, he was given “skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary” (Exod 36:1). This seems to be more than just “energizing” him to do something for the good of other believers doesn’t it? It seems to involve both knowledge and ability (i.e. wisdom/ applied knowledge). It seems that he became a better craftsmen/artist through divine gifting. Is this what you mean by energizing? Or do you simply mean that the Spirit gives a believer the heart to worship God properly because the believer now truly loves God? If the latter, would not every Christian have this? All believers worship God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), but this seems to have little to do with “artistic ability.” In other words, I am making a distinction between the condition of one’s heart and one’s artistic ability. Artistic ability is artistic ability. If there is a gift of artistic ability, it would seem to me that it must actually give someone artistic ability that they didn’t have before, and this seems consistent with the Bezalel example. Again, the illumination example is helpful. A believer and an unbeliever can have natural abilities to accomplish a given task. The difference in the believer is the heart condition/attitude that motivates the work, not the “ability” to do the work. Both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the Lord. Their ability to do so was essentially the same. The difference? The heart. Maybe, in the end, we are saying the same thing. I just am reluctant to attribute “artistic ability” to a spiritual gift.

  6. BE


    Thanks for the further interaction. Let me give a couple more clarifications and pushbacks.
    (1) I’m not sure there is any kind of consensus on what a “worship leader” is. Some view the leader as the musician who directs the musical portion of the service. Some view it as the pastor who plans the service. The definition I’m using is simply a common understanding of “leading”—influence. The pastor (or music leader) may exercise more leadership/influence than a musician, but a musician clearly influences the musical portion of the worship, which means there is a kind of leading involved. (Just like someone who prays is leading in worship for prayer, or who reads Scripture, etc. even if they are not THE “worship leader”).

    So I’m curious—what level of involvement/influence/leadership would you allow an unbeliever to have? Could they be in the choir? Could they do a vocal solo? Could they play the organ? Could they play one instrument out of a group (praise band or orchestra)? If you know of an unbeliever who is very skilled at oratory, would you let him read Scripture? I think my position is consistent here, but I’m not sure another one would be…

    (2) I agree with your point generally, but think the reality of direct vs. indirect involvement is significant here.

    (3) I think my first question would be “why would I want the 5 year olds singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ in the worship service?” I’m not sure I can think of a biblical reason to do that. Typical answers would include: (1) because the parents like to have that happen—even though our worship services aren’t supposed to be about parents but God—and (2) to help the 5 year olds learn to serve at church—which is not something an unbeliever can do and, if they are believers, they can do by participating in congregational singing.

    (4) Good 🙂

    (5) I don’t think my argument is tied to whether or not there is a spiritual gift of artistic ability. Let me try to restate the argument without that side note: God has provided spiritual gifts to the church so that the church can be built up, unified, and display God’s presence in the world (a crucial point again highlighted in 1 Cor 14:24-25). Those who (directly) utilize unbelievers in the worship service are undermining this truth. That’s it.

    The point about artistic ability is addressing a potential rejoinder—but doesn’t God want us to have artistic excellence in our worship? If we don’t have that within the regenerated, gifted membership of the church, don’t we need to use the unregenerate to make sure we have artistic excellence? To that, I say we need to understand that artistic excellence means doing the best with the resources we have. So if God wants us to have artistic excellence, He will insure that we have it in the body.

    The issue of artistic ability as a spiritual gift might be helpful in providing further thought on this issue, but I think the overall argument can be made whether or not one agrees with me about artistic ability as a spiritual gift.

    I keep pointing to other gifts (like teaching, administration, etc.) as a parallel to my discussion about artistic ability as a spiritual gift, but you never interact with that. So, do you think that “If there is a gift of [teaching], it would seem to me that it must actually give someone [teaching ability] that they didn’t have before?” Further, do you think the gift of teaching is simply a matter of one’s heart? Both a believer and an unbeliever have the same capacity to provide biblical teaching to the church, but the believer’s heart is right as he gives that teaching? I think that is downplaying the role of the Spirit in spiritual gifts. When I talk about “energizing” I’m talking about the Spirit utilizing the God-given abilities to accomplish His purposes in the church (which is why a spiritual gift is a manifestation of the Spirit. If it was simply a “natural” ability then the Spirit would be unnecessary.) So we don’t disagree that believers and unbelievers can both have artistic ability (just like they can both have teaching ability, or administrative ability). But a spiritual gift is something more than that. The Spirit empowers the person in using that ability to accomplish the three purposes of the gifts I’ve already mentioned.


  7. Tim Scott


    I thought I would give my final thoughts on the issue, at least for now. I have enjoyed the friendly banter, and I hope we can still coexist with one another after this discussion. We probably have far more in common than otherwise, and I think you would not feel at all uncomfortable in the church where I am the associate pastor (other than maybe the fact that we do allow children to sing in church and we are non-dispensational).

    I would like to say that the issue of definition is crucial. The main reason I asked the question in the first place is that you made the statement in your original post that “if we are to offer that “no,” we must understand what we mean by “artistic excellence” and what we mean by “leading worship.” You said that it was important to know what was meant by “leading worship” but you never actually explained what was meant. You have clarified that in the course of our interaction. I see it differently, but at least you have acknowledged that there is no evangelical consensus on the matter, which is important to acknowledge because the issue can be fairly complex and because of the need for charity where we might disagree. I would add that one of the reasons I don’t entirely embrace the definition of leading as being tantamount to influence has to do with the understanding of direct/indirect involvement as I’ve articulated it earlier. It is possible to have “influences” on the worship service that are not even present in the service. For example, Beethoven influences the service any time we sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” because he wrote the music. Roman Catholics influence the worship service through a number of hymns they have written, hymns that are in most Protestant hymnals and are commonly sung in Protestant churches (e.g. William Faber, “Faith of Our Fathers;” St. Francis of Assisi, “All Creatures of Our God and King”). Even Harry Emerson Fosdick and Ralph Waldo Emerson can lay claim to hymns that are in the Baptist hymnal we have in our church. If these influences (many from unbelievers) are allowed (maybe you don’t allow them, I would), it would at least be possible to allow other influences from unbelievers, at least in musical participation (not leading worship as I’ve defined it in connection to pastoral leadership). What to me is more important than influence is pastoral leadership, though certainly pastors possess influence. I know/suspect you see it differently and that is fine.

    To answer you question of the extent of influence/involvement and about the lists of specific questions you asked me about I would say that I could see scenarios where I might allow most if not all of these to take place. I have already hinted at the idea that I would not have a problem with children singing in church (our church allows this and has always allowed this so far as I know). I believe that pastoral discretion is key, as I would not take an “anything goes” approach. From my own pastoral perspective, I am most inclined to allow the sorts of things you describe to take place for unbelievers who are a part of what I would call the “church community.” By “church community,” I mean those who are actively and organically connected to our church. The clearest example of this would be children of church members who may not have come to the Lord yet. If we had a church orchestra (we don’t but if we did), I would probably allow a 12 year old child (age randomly selected) of a church member to play in it. The same would be true of the piano, choir, etc. I would allow for a Sunday School class to sing a song that they have been working on in class as well (this has been done many times at church). I have no problem with a church making church membership a standard for participation in a choir or orchestra (which would of course limit participation to believers in Baptist polity), but I don’t think they have to take this approach. I would just add that I think you are bit restrictive in the reasons (you of course reject them) for allowing children to be involved in church services in the way I described. I would certainly agree that parents “liking it” is not a good reason, but I think the second is actually a good reason. We are to train up children in the way they should go after all. I would add that teaching them the songs and such is also a way of teaching and internalizing Christian truth, both for those who sing and those who hear. I think it is entirely appropriate to teach our children the hymns of the faith and let them sing them, much like I think it is wise to have our children memorize Bible verses and quote them publically. Singing is a way to communicate and internalize truth in a memorable way. The Christian church at large has always thought this a good practice. Both Catholic and Protestant traditions have children’s choirs. Southern Seminary even has a children’s choir, a choir that performed at the recent Christmas concert held on campus. I would dare say that the majority of churches allow similar things. I would say finally that if “artistic excellence” is desirable, it would stand to reason that the church should cultivate artistry in those under its influence from an early age. The church used to be the “patron of the arts,” but the Protestant Reformation did a lot to undermine the church’s role in artistic development (in some cases their actions were justified as the artwork in churches became objects of worship). What development there has been has been confined mostly to para-church organizations. Part of what you are seeing in evangelicalism is a reigniting of a historic role the church used to play in society. All of what I am describing is of course not consistent with your definition of leading worship, but it is consistent with mine.

    On the issue of spiritual gifts, I have not interacted with gifts like teaching for two reasons: (1) I wanted you to say more about the existence of a spiritual gift of artistic ability, and (2) I don’t think you can make blanket statements about the nature and character of individual spiritual gifts. What might be true of the gift of teaching my not be true of a gift of artistic ability (should such a gift exist). For example, I think you would agree that the sign gifts have a different character than, say, the gift of mercy (Rom. 12:8). In the case of tongues, the ability to do something that could not be done before was actually conveyed to a person (i.e., the ability to speak in a language previously unknown to that person). In the case of the gifts of prophesy and knowledge, new ability was not necessarily given but new information was conveyed to individuals who previously did not know that information. Even though these gifts may have passed off the scene, they are clear examples of gifts where something more than just an “energizing” was taking place. Even among those gifts that most evangelicals still believe are in existence today, there does appear to be differences in their nature. In some cases it is a matter of “energizing” and not ability per se, but I’m not sure they all are this way. For instance, I would grant that the gift of mercy would best be described as an energizing of a heart disposition that all Christian should possess (we all should show mercy, right?), but not that all Christians possess to the same degree. But the gift of mercy does not so much describe an ability as it does an attitude/heart condition. This would seem to make it different than the gift of teaching, which actually does involve some sort of ability (1 Timothy 3 describes it as “aptness”). I am comfortable saying that part of the gift of teaching includes a conveying of ability not previously possessed by an individual (although not to the same degree in every person who has the gift). Certainly the Holy Spirit can “energize” natural teaching ability and/or help cultivate existing ability, but I do not feel compelled to restrict it to such. Perhaps part of the gift is a boldness not previously possessed (cf. Acts 4:29, 31). In Colossians 4:2-4 Paul asks his readers to pray for him that he might declare the mystery of Christ in a clear way. Is he not asking for the ability to teach clearly? If I were like you and believed in a gift of artistic ability I would make a similar case on the basis of Bezalel’s example that this gift includes more than just an energizing but an actually giving of ability. If I’m not mistaken, I may actually have a more robust understanding of the gifts than you do.

    In conclusion, I would like to point out that I agree with you on your overall point, namely, that artistic excellence does not need to be an end in itself. I do not believe that a church must attain to some sort of predetermined artistic excellence. Our music does not always have to be on Bach’s level. I would agree that a church should basically “do the best it can” with what it has at its disposal. I just happen to expand “what it has at its disposal” to include the “church community” as I’ve described it above. I agree that unbelievers should not lead worship because pastors should be leading worship and only Christians can be pastors.

    Well, I have truly enjoyed our interaction. I will give you the opportunity for the last word, as I think I have exhausted the issue for the time being, and I do have other things to attend to. I do wish you all the best as you minister at Inter-City (my former church if you didn’t know) and DBTS (M.Div. 2009 for me, though they may not want to claim me after this discussion). I also hope you enjoy your Ph.D. studies at Southern (hopefully I can finish my dissertation and be done there as well). If you are ever in Louisville, feel free to visit our church (Kosmosdale Baptist Church; I would love to talk to you in person.

    In Christ,

    Tim Scott

  8. BE


    I’ve enjoyed the interaction as well, as it has provided opportunities for clarification and explanation (as all good discussions do). I don’t have much more to add, but did want to address three issues.

    First, as I stated in the OP, leading worship includes participating in worship. So, indirect influence (from someone who is now dead) can’t be leading. Further, indirect influence is set, which means a pastor can evaluate it beforehand. Direct, present influence (that includes participating) is different by its very nature–it happens in the moment. That’s why it’s not a problem for unregenerate people to have indirect “influence” while direct, participatory “influence” does create a problem. (I’ve certainly been in services where the piano or organ player did more to influence the way a song was sung than the “leader” at the front–and the choir/praise team almost always has more direct influence on the musical part of a worship service than a pastor. That’s why it’s important to have these people on the same page.)

    Second, I would, with you, encourage children to learn hymns and memory verses. But it’s certainly possible to learn those things without publicly presenting them in the worship service. We teach new hymns to our children and adults regularly, but we sing them congregationally. I’d go further and say I don’t think there would be an issue with having a children’s choir perform in Christian venues either (e.g., Southern’s concert, or an Awana program at a church) but I don’t think every gathering of the church is for the purpose of worship either. I’m talking about the time when the church gathers for corporate worship.

    Third, I noted in the OP that not every gift is the same, including the reality that some spiritual gifts are given at conversion while others are energized at conversion. So I don’t disagree with anything you said relating to that. (Including, as you hinted at, the reality that the non-sign gifts–which are the gifts that matter for the life of the church now–are both responsibilities and abilities/gifts for the Christian. Every Christian is called to do them at some level, but some have greater capacity/effectiveness in certain areas than others). But since we agree there, I’m not sure why you seem so hesitant to agree that artistic ability could be like teaching, as opposed to tongues or prophecy. Perhaps you believe all spiritual gifts are listed somewhere in the Scriptures? I don’t have a problem with that (as I noted, this area is mostly an ancillary point). But I don’t feel I could be dogmatic on that since there is never a definitive list given. I would use the purpose and function of the spiritual gifts in the Bible to evaluate whether or not something is a spiritual gift–and in that light artistic ability seems to fit the bill (and would easily be comparable to teaching, since art by its very nature is communicative).

    I would love to connect some time in person. I’m never in Louisville on a Sunday for my coursework, so I doubt I’d be able to visit your church to feel uncomfortable in it 🙂 But I’d love to work out a time to meet up.

    Good luck (I mean, providence) on finishing the dissertation! I need people I can look to as examples to let me know it is possible to complete.