Category Archives: Articles on Aesthetics

The Mortification of Spin’s Take on Secular Music (or, Calvin vs. the Calvinists)

The Mortification of Spin’s Take on Secular Music (or, Calvin vs. the Calvinists)

Occasionally I listen to the Mortification of Spin (hereafter MOS) podcast. I find the episodes largely helpful and would happily recommend the podcast to others. Recently, however, Carl, Aimee, and the other guy1 released an episode on whether or not Christians can listen to secular music.2 They largely defended the proposition that Christians can listen to almost… Continue Reading

Without Chests?

Without Chests?

“Men Without Chests” is the curious title of a chapter in Lewis’ book The Abolition of Man. (You can read the chapter here). What does this odd title mean? Is this some odd anatomical reference? Is it an obscure metaphor referring to cowardice? Lewis guides us by taking us back in time. He takes us… Continue Reading

Is there any room for preference?

Is there any room for preference?

I have often argued (such as in Sound Worship) that it is the responsibility of Christians to change their tastes for beauty to match what is truly worthy of admiration. Since God is transcendent beauty, there do exist absolute standards of beauty that should govern our judgments of beauty. This does not meant that such standards are immediately apparent or that I… Continue Reading

Art: Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection

Art: Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection

Now a few years old, his series of chapel lectures by Ken Myers set forth a helpful foundation for understanding the importance of true art to Christianity. One of the points he makes is that art is important because creation itself is a work of art. If creation is invested with meaning, Christians, of all people,… Continue Reading

The Green Book

The Green Book

Poor Alex and Martin. Misters King and Ketley had no idea that their forgettable English textbook would unleash one of the twentieth century’s most eloquent and destructive critiques of modernism, with the two of them in the marksman’s crosshairs. The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing, was published in 1939 as… Continue Reading

How important is the style of music a church sings?

How important is the style of music a church sings?

I read a post yesterday from a blog of a popular ministry that attempted to answer a question from a reader: “How important is the style of music a church sings?” The answer? “The style of music a church sings is relatively unimportant.” After making several simplistic points, the post concluded, “In short, what we… Continue Reading

The beauty of truth

The beauty of truth

Pilate’s question to Jesus in John 18:30—“What is truth?”—is no less relevant today than it was then. In its most basic definition, something is true if it corresponds with reality.[1] The truth of which the church is the pillar and support (1 Tim 3:15) has been revealed through the written Word of God. Everything contained… Continue Reading

The Power of Beauty to Educate the Emotions

The Power of Beauty to Educate the Emotions

Sanctification is a lifelong process for a believer. Although a Christian is freed from the power and penalty of sin, he still must deal with the presence of sin around and within him. If, as stated in 1 Corinthians 10:31, man’s chief end is to glorify God, then the essence of sin is failing to… Continue Reading

Are Christians free to love however they please?

Are Christians free to love however they please?

What is Christian love like? Where does it come from? Should we desire that our love be utterly spontaneous? Should we seek to love naturally? Is it inauthentic to love in a way other than that which first comes to us? Should our affections be unaffected? The impulse to say that the way a believer… Continue Reading

The Aesthetic Nature of Truth

The Aesthetic Nature of Truth

Conservative evangelicals admirably repudiate emergent leaders who argue that both content and form must be contextualized; evangelicals insist that since God’s Word is inspired and inerrant, God’s truth transcends culture and must be preserved intact. But since even most conservative evangelicals consider culture as entirely neutral in itself and beauty as in the eye of… Continue Reading

Simplicity is an Aesthetic Value

Simplicity is an Aesthetic Value

The always-worth-reading-carefully Doug Wilson has introduced yet another metaphor into my lexicon: “barnacles of devotion.” Good ideas tend to become lost in fossilized layers of temporal application: for an example of this, consult the Babylonian Talmud, and then read some of the interactions that Jesus had with the Jewish scholars of his time. All those layers… Continue Reading

Where The Differences Lie

Where The Differences Lie

Useful debate takes place when sparring parties understand their opponent’s position, and can represent it in terms the opponent would agree with. Apart from this proper knowledge, disagreements cannot be profitably discussed, for the disagreements are not even properly understood. What follows this ignorance is usually a headache of talking past one another, flaming straw… Continue Reading

Article 13: On Today’s Congregational Music

Article 13: On Today’s Congregational Music

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

  This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that twenty-first-century churches, like the churches of every age, must worship God in their own words, with their own voice. We add the qualification that these expressions must both embody ordinate affection and build on the tradition that… Continue Reading

Change your tastes

Change your tastes

During the years I was in college and the one year before I was married, I ate a lot of junk food. I grew to love junk food. So when I eventually married, and my wife began to prepare healthy, well-balanced meals for me, I’ll admit that I really didn’t have a taste for it… Continue Reading

Article 9: On Harmony and Variety in Ordinate Expression

Article 9: On Harmony and Variety in Ordinate Expression

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

  This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that inordinate expressions of worship often arise from hearts that are entangled in disordered loves. We affirm that expressions of orthopathy are grounded in harmony with God’s ultimate perception of truth, goodness, and beauty as revealed in Scripture… Continue Reading

Beauty

Beauty

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Back to Basics You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Beauty has been classically defined as that which pleases when apprehended (Thomas Aquinas). Both terms in that definition are worth considering. First, “apprehended.” Beauty can describe things, persons, or ideas–anything that can be apprehended by the mind, and this apprehension may or may not involve the physical senses. Seeing, smelling, hearing, or tasting call all… Continue Reading

Article 8: On Works of the Imagination

Article 8: On Works of the Imagination

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that ordinate affections are often expressed and evoked through works of imagination, which function through simile and metaphor. Among these are music, poetry, literature, and other arts. The Word of God itself is a work of imagination. At least… Continue Reading

Article 6: On Beauty

Article 6: On Beauty

This entry is part 7 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that beauty exists in reality and is to be the pursuit of every believer (Phil. 1:9–11). We also affirm that the recognition of beauty is fundamental to worship and devotion, and a right approach to God entails both a… Continue Reading

Form and content are not easily separable

Form and content are not easily separable

Debates over worship usually center on the issue of form. “Don’t elevate form over content,” the progressives cry. “Content is what is important; it really doesn’t matter what aesthetic forms you use.” What I intend to demonstrate in this essay is the fact that separating form and content is not as simple as many progressives would imply.… Continue Reading