William Dyrness is a scholar—there’s no doubt about that. But his studies and publications have always been about the dramatic encounter between faith and human culture. In short, his scholarship is relevant to practicing artists because he cares about concrete, down-to-earth issues and approaches his work from an incarnational perspective. His 1971 book on the twentieth-century French Catholic painter Georges Rouault influenced an entire generation of Christian visual artists. As they struggled to find the freedom and visual vocabulary for their work, his explication of Rouault was liberating. And Dyrness’s commitment to fostering the relationship between Christianity and art has continued unabated. He also serves on the board of Christians in the Visual Arts. We hope to have him back in the pages of Image soon.
His books include: Visual Faith: Art, Theology and Worship in Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Baker (Fall, 2001). The Earth is God’s: A Theology of American Culture. Maryknoll, Orbis Books (1997). Invitation to Cross-cultural Theology: Case Studies in Vernacular Theology. Grand Rapids, Zondervan (1992). Learning About Theology from the Third World. Grand Rapids, Zondervan (1990). How Does America Hear the Gospel? Grand Rapids, Eerdmans (1989).Christian Art in Asia. Amsterdam, Rodopi (1979). Rouault: A Vision of Suffering and Salvation. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans (1971).
Dyrness received a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1965 and from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1967, a Bachelor’s of Divinity from Fuller in 1968, and doctorates from the University of Strasbourg and the Free University in Amsterdam, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge University in 1978 and again in 2000. He was ordained by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1994.
He is married to Grace Roberts Dyrness. They have three children.
“I have just completed ten years as dean at Fuller Seminary and am in the midst of a year’s sabbatical. I have just completed a book, Visual Faith: Art, Theology and Worship in Dialogue, which is due out in the fall from Baker. Meanwhile I am working on a long-term project on the visual arts and Protestantism: ‘What happened to the Protestant Imagination?’ I am very excited about the light this project might shed on current ecumenical renewal in worship and the arts (of which Image is a huge part!).”
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.