Author Archives: David de Bruyn

Beauty Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

Beauty Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

This entry is part 18 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

How do we decide between these competing definitions of beauty? As Christians, we would firstly say that we cannot be satisfied with a definition of beauty abstracted from God. Beauty must be defined in relation to God. For that reason, special revelation (Scripture) must define beauty in general revelation (nature and art), not the other… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Definition

Beauty’s Definition

This entry is part 17 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Defining beauty is no easy task. A definition of beauty or the beautiful has eluded the grasp of those who wish a definition with mathematical precision. This more than two-millennia-old discussion remains open, and no definition has satisfied its perennial participants or become the final word. Among those who venture to define it, we can… Continue Reading

Tattoos: To Do or Eschew?

Tattoos: To Do or Eschew?

The Christian life is meant to be a life of obedience grounded in discernment. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) Such discernment is not simply an inner sense of confidence, or a feeling of sagacity, but an active judging of all things for their meaning. The pursuit of meaning is… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: Accounting for Taste

Beauty’s Difficulties: Accounting for Taste

This entry is part 16 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

How can beauty be a real property if the question of “taste” enters in? If so many people find so many different things beautiful, then surely beauty is just a synonym for what people like. One of the obstacles to understanding the question of taste is common view that art is to be a matter of… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: The Problem of Taste

Beauty’s Difficulties: The Problem of Taste

This entry is part 15 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

After more than a century of grappling with Descartes’ division of knowledge into “subjective” and “objective”, eighteenth-century thinkers developed a way to rescue the concept of beauty. The conversation about beauty moved away from a discussion of harmony, proportion, or unity and towards the idea of taste. In fact, at this early stage, the attention… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Beauty’s Difficulties: A Case of Mistaken Identity

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The topic of beauty suffers not only because its definition is disputed, but because beauty is often a victim of misidentification. These wrong associations lead beauty’s critics to dismiss the topic out of hand. As I’ve said, I believe beauty refers to the deepest reality, and so it is no small matter when beauty is… Continue Reading

The Bowl

The Bowl

High upon a volcanic plateau was a village, about an hour’s walk from the Everlasting Spring. Once a week, on the Day of Worship, the Healer would arise long before dawn and begin his trek to the Spring, carrying the Bowl. Hollowed out from a large stone, the Bowl had been passed down from one… Continue Reading

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living”, said Socrates. Socrates was teaching the need to live a life where all things are parsed for their meaning. A life lived on auto-pilot, following the great mass of humanity, takes most of life for granted. It is a life lived without reflection, without much meditation, and consequently,… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: A Christian Response to the Subject-Object Dilemma

Beauty’s Difficulties: A Christian Response to the Subject-Object Dilemma

This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

For a while, it seemed chic to be able to say the word postmodern in a sermon. The belief-system behind the word is rather drab. No God exists, no human nature exists, and no essences exists. As such, beauty is a fiction imposed upon reality by humans wanting to order their meaningless existence. Truth is… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: Subjective and Objective

Beauty’s Difficulties: Subjective and Objective

This entry is part 12 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Perhaps the most frequent objection levelled at those wishing to see beauty restored to a central place in Christian thinking is that beauty represents “subjective” knowledge: inward experience known only to a perceiving subject. Thinkers in the modernist tradition still hold that some forms of knowledge can be known objectively, while transcendental values such as… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Difficulties: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

Beauty’s Difficulties: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

This entry is part 11 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The discussion of beauty among Christians is often stymied before it starts. Some of this is due to a long-standing suspicion towards philosophy felt by many Christians. From Tertullian’s “What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” to Luther’s denunciation of the Scholastics to evangelicalism’s embrace of Common Sense Realism, there is some considerable water under… Continue Reading

Beauty and Motivation

Beauty and Motivation

This entry is part 10 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

As surprising as it might sound, beauty lies at the heart of motive. Why we do what we do is a question of desire, and desire is rooted in what we think is good and beautiful. Jonathan Edwards tackled the questions of motive, desire, and freedom in his work The Freedom of the Will. There Edwards… Continue Reading

Beauty, Ethics and Worship

Beauty, Ethics and Worship

This entry is part 9 of 18 in the series Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Sometimes throwaway lines leave a deep impression. One of those were words written on a blog I avidly followed about fifteen years ago. The writer said, “A good man does not love ugly things”. Words like that enabled me to see a profound link and overlap between what is true, good, and beautiful. Real beauty… Continue Reading

Doctrinal Triage for Worship

Doctrinal Triage for Worship

Many years ago, Al Mohler published a widely-read article on doctrinal triage, a method for evaluating the seriousness of doctrines. Kevin Bauder then pointed out that this approach was something that mainstream fundamentalists had espoused for many years, with possibly more sophistication. I’ve thought for a while that we need something like that for the… Continue Reading

Live Images Are Not Living Persons

Live Images Are Not Living Persons

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Disembodied Christianity You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Our technologies have come a long way from when John wrote, likely using a reed-pen on a papyrus sheet, “I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.” (3 Jn. 1:13-14)… Continue Reading

Disembodied Christianity

Disembodied Christianity

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Disembodied Christianity You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

During last week, I read one man rage at ‘conservative Christians’ for their desire to re-open churches. He then proceeded to point out that Hebrews 10:25 does not really prove that churches need to gather in physical buildings, and that all Christians who call for re-opened churches based upon Hebrews 10:25 are abusing the text.… Continue Reading

Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Screens

Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Screens

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Disembodied Christianity You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

“John, we’d love it if you and Susan would join us for a meal on Thursday evening.” “Uh…well, Mike, thanks but…isn’t that illegal? I mean, doesn’t the lockdown prohibit that kind of social gathering?” “Oh, no, I don’t mean that you and Susan come to our home. We’ll host you online.” “I’m still not following.… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words: Conclusion

Ten Mangled Words: Conclusion

This entry is part 63 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Words are not just names. If they were, we’d have no problem swapping out one label for another. No, words are things. Yes, they are man-made things, concatenations of syllables created by human cultures, and their particular meanings have been shaped through convention and association. But they are things that have meaning in themselves, and… Continue Reading

“Hate” – A Word Like “Atheism”

“Hate” – A Word Like “Atheism”

This entry is part 62 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

His name was Polycarp, and he was a disciple of the apostle John. He later became the pastor of the church at Smyrna. When he was very old, the vicious persecutions of Christians in Smyrna turned on him. He was arrested and told to deny Christ. He refused. He was brought into the stadium to… Continue Reading

The Crucifixion: Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?

The Crucifixion: Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?

The exact day of the week of Christ’s death has been debated for centuries. The day, while not fundamental to the gospel, is of some import, especially in countries like South Africa which celebrate Good Friday as a public holiday. Churches hold Good Friday services (were we allowed out the house!) What support is there… Continue Reading