Category Archives: Articles on Aesthetics

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

Music: a Theological Orphan

Music: a Theological Orphan

Quentin Faulkner’s analysis of the impact of Romantic aesthetic philosophy on the church and its music is enlightening (pun intended) and helpful: The nineteenth century was the era of Romanticism, particularly in music. It was also the period in which Chrisianity began to reassemble and regroup its forces after its first disastrous encounter with Enlightenment ideas.… Continue Reading

Subjectively universal

Subjectively universal

One of the most difficult matters when having debates over aesthetics (that is, beauty and meaning in the arts) is the terms we employ. For example, the following terms often lack precision in discussion and thus cause confusion: relative subjective objective universal The first two terms are often equated with each other, as are the… Continue Reading

Edwards, the imagination, music, and the sacraments

Edwards, the imagination, music, and the sacraments

Jonathan Edwards has some fairly well-developed theories of art and aesthetics that can inform discussions of Christian aesthetics today. In particular, Edwards discussed the importance of the imagination, which he saw as a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit since it helps believers perceive spiritual reality. Here is a relevant passage from Experiencing God:… Continue Reading

Are Protestants Afraid of Beauty?

Are Protestants Afraid of Beauty?

Leading 20th century Roman Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar contended that Protestantism had no place for beauty in its theology. “Contemporary Protestant theology nowhere deals with the beautiful as a theological category,” he wrote. “For the time being, the only question posed by Protestants is that concerning the relationship between revelation and this-worldly beauty—certainly… Continue Reading

Calvin and Platonic aesthetics

Calvin and Platonic aesthetics

Yesterday, Scott Aniol showed that Martin Luther was influenced by Greek aesthetics, including that of Plato. In light of Dr. Aniol’s post, it is worth highlighting that Luther was not alone among the Reformers to be influenced by Plato’s thought on music. Calvin, in his preface to the Genevan Psalter, also cited Plato’s views: But… Continue Reading

The Influence of Greek Thought on Martin Luther’s Aesthetics

The Influence of Greek Thought on Martin Luther’s Aesthetics

When Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg in 1517, he not only sparked a theological reformation in the Church, but he also led the way for reforms in the Church’s music. Luther’s primary objections were with the Roman Church’s theology, yet the church reforms he began had implications in… Continue Reading