Stained Glass and the Second Commandment

My great great grandfather Archibald Alexander Barron was a ruling elder in First Associate Reformed Presbyterian of Rock Hill, SC. The ARP is historically a conservative denomination with a high regard for their confessional standards.

In reading The Centennial History First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Rock Hill, South Carolina, I read a surprising paragraph about my ancestor’s passing.

By the time the 1911 addition was made, the church had become more relaxed in its attitude toward church art, and the memorial windows placed in the church at this time were intended to illustrate stories from the Bible, with human figures and representations of Christ. The “Good Shepherd Shepherd” window, depicting Christ leading a flock of sheep, was a memorial to Archibald Alexander Barron, and was given by his family.

The Westminster Larger Catechism teaches that the Second Commandment forbids “the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever”. As early as 1911, the ARPs were loosening their commitment to this teaching.

Incidentally, the 1911 renovation also added an organ. While seen as a “traditional” church fixture today, this would have been a shock to the older ARPs who were committed to a capella singing in worship.