070314-welcome-deskchurch_016.jpgI heard an incredible true story this week.

 

 

A Muslim lady from the Middle East, who now lives in London, came to faith last year having encountered the living Jesus in a dream. On the very next day she happened to wander into All Souls – and was confronted by the painting we have of Christ at the sharp end (ie the front). She immediately recognized him as the person she had seen in her dream – and this was the trigger that led to her coming into a relationship of personal faith and trust in Jesus. There are clearly more details and steps along the way that i don’t know about but it just shows that the Lord can and use the most unexpected things!

For there are not many evangelical churches that have such a dominant painting at its sharp end. It raises controversy amongst some and people raise questions about it every now and then. I have to say that i am pretty uncomfortable in principle about classic-style portraits of Jesus simply because they too often pull us away from his universality – how many people in the world think of him as white, blond, blue-eyed and beautiful? Very unhelpful.

Still – it has come into its own in this account – and Alleluia for that!

The Painting
Christ Crowned with Thorns by Richard Westall R.A. (1822-3)

The painting was most likely commissioned by King George IV and donated by ‘certain persons’ (?!) to the church. It was installed in time for the actual opening of John Nash‘s extraordinary building of All Souls Langham Place (at the top of Regent St) appropriately on All Souls Day (2nd November) 1824.

photo taken by Woojung

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I was just talking the other day to someone about the prevalence of this sort of phenominon among muslims around the world. It is extra-ordinary but also unremarkable because of it’s frequency. The question I was then asked led to a lengthy discussion about the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. you’re absolutely right, Andy. When in Uganda we heard about this sort of thing happening frequently. I guess you probably talked about this but it seems to me that it has little bearing on the sufficiency issue because that depends on actually having the book in your hands in the first place! What happens next in someone’s life is what really counts as far as that is concerned.

  3. Wow, that’s a fantastic story.

    While I agree with you on this style of religious art I have often found that painting at All Souls helpful, even if for symbolic reasons as a focus during worship.

    Dreams were also significant in my dad’s family coming to faith (in eastern Turkey in late 19th C). When they later met missionaries who told them about Jesus they recognised him as the person who’d they had come to know i their dreams, and who then taught them to read so they could read the Bible.

    One other thing – I have always thought it would be good to have a little booklet about the history of All Souls Church for people who enter the church due to interest in the architecture or for a spritual experience. It could have info about the painting, history of the building etc. and using this to explain what the painting depicts, have Bible passages for reflection etc.

  4. Funny you should mention that, Emma. It is actually one of my projects for this year. I’ve got a friend who is an art historian to write a page about the painting (from which i gleaned the details above) and am putting the rest together over the next few months.

  5. WELL IT ALL STARTED IN MY DREAM WHERE ME AND MY MOM AND A COUSIN WHERE WALKING TO MY HOUSE!! I LOOKED UP IN THE SKY I SAW JESUS AND 12 OF THE DISCIPLES!! THEY HAD 12 GOLD LAMPS!!! AND JESUS !! WAS THERE!! BUT !!! AS JESUS WAS OPENING HIS ARMS !! WE FELL ON THE STREETS!TO OUR KNESS ! AND IT STARTED TO RAIN CLEAR WATER!!! ON US!!! BUT THEN GOLD AND PURPLE DOTS WHERE FALLING FROM THE SKY!! THEN THE GROUND WAS SHAKEING!! THEN 2 MY SIDE I SAW MY MOMS AUNT AND DAUG. THERE I POINT UP TO THE SKY BUT THEY JUST LAUGH AT ME!!! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!!!

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