Making Religious Art: An Overlooked Charismatic Gift

I’ve written elsewhere about how the Catholic use of religious artwork is not in violation of the commandment against “graven images” in Exodus 20:4. God’s commandment prohibits the improper use of religious imagery; it is not a wholesale prohibition against them. [See my other posts on this topic for more details.]

My earlier posts did not include a relevant detail, which I noticed recently while re-reading Exodus: not only did God command that sculpted images and religious art be used in worshipping Him (cf. Ex. 25:1, 18-20; Ex. 26:1), he also gave a special charism – a charismatic gift – to certain Israelites to make these items:

Ex. 31:1-6 — The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bez’alel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oho’liab, the son of Ahis’amach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you.”

Ex. 36:10-19 continues this thought, with God saying “let every able man among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded.”

So if you encounter someone claiming that religious art or statues violates God’s commandments, point out these verses. Why would God send his Spirit to people and command them to make artistic works for worship if it would be sinful?

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