Category Archives: Articles on Aesthetics

Beauty’s Difficulty: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

Beauty’s Difficulty: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

This entry is part 11 of 11 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 11 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 11 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

Taste and Preference: A Last Word

Taste and Preference: A Last Word

This entry is part 56 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Why are there such different “tastes” among people? Is the debate over music in worship simply a “preference issue”?  Are matters of music, dress, recreation merely matters of “personal style”? We have tried to sort out the meanings of the word “taste”, and have seen two distinct meanings. The first is the act of judging,… Continue Reading

Taste Formed and Deformed by Culture

Taste Formed and Deformed by Culture

This entry is part 55 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Taste is never shaped in isolation. We learn to love what we love from our family, our church, our school, and our society. In other words, taste is largely shaped by culture. Culture can be defined as T. S. Eliot suggested, “the incarnation of a religion”. At the heart of any culture is Richard Weaver’s… Continue Reading

Taste Spoiled By Sweetness

Taste Spoiled By Sweetness

This entry is part 54 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A discussion of taste is one of the most difficult (and unrewarding) ones to have, for most people are unreflective about their likes. “I know what I like!” is supposed to end the discussion, followed up with “different strokes for different folks”. Aesthetic immaturity is one of the reasons for a discrepancy in taste among… Continue Reading

Good Taste and Christian Taste

Good Taste and Christian Taste

This entry is part 53 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Even atheists used to believe in good taste. The infamous David Hume wrote in his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals “In many orders of beauty, particularly those of the finer arts, it is requisite to employ much reasoning in order to feel the proper sentiment; and a false relish may frequently be corrected by… Continue Reading

Christian at the Movies (2)

Christian at the Movies (2)

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

The laziest form of “discernment” about movies or television looks for the easy targets of occultism, sex, nudity, bad language and gratuitous violence. Certainly, Christians are right to avoid these things. But as we have seen in our last post, discernment is not as simple as using VidAngel or Clearplay to eliminate the objectionable. Nor… Continue Reading

Christian at the Movies (1)

Christian at the Movies (1)

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

I was about ten when the first Rock ‘n Roll evangelists came to town. They weren’t proselytizing on behalf of Iron Maiden. They were there to tell us about the rampant satanism and occultism in contemporary rock and pop. To rapt audiences, they played snippets of songs backwards: “[ssshkp]…[ssshkp]…[ssshkp]…meeshnar eep… [ssshkp]… eeg zatan… [ssshkp]…’There! Hear… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words:”Taste”

Ten Mangled Words:”Taste”

This entry is part 49 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

De gustibus non est disputandum, said the ancient Romans. There is no disputing over taste, meaning that in matters of personal taste and preference, there can be no profitable dispute, and therefore there ought to be none. There’s much truth to that. If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, and have no time for fantasy,… Continue Reading

Affect or Effect

Affect or Effect

This entry is part 47 of 63 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The difference between affections and emotions is seen in what art is used in worship. Since worship uses art, worship leaders can use it in precisely one of these two ways: to affect us, or to create effect. They can work with poetry, music and the spoken word to work with the imagination. There the… Continue Reading

Beauty and Knowledge

Beauty and Knowledge

This entry is part 8 of 11 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.

Beauty does not only encourage a pursuit of reality, but beauty encourages a Christian epistemology. It teaches how we know what we know. The Enlightenment project involved pursuing certainty without relying on revelation or authority. If a thinking, knowing subject could be “neutral”, pure reason would lead to truth. This resulted in a general suspicion… Continue Reading

Beauty and Reality

Beauty and Reality

This entry is part 7 of 11 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.

Beauty has made a comeback. After years of being relegated by intellectual elites to the junkyard of old and outdated concepts, it is now popping up everywhere. The terminology of beauty is, strangely enough, now heard often in scientific and mathematical discourse, speaking of the beauty of mathematical models or theorems, the elegance of “nature’s… Continue Reading

A Parable About Pop Music in Church

A Parable About Pop Music in Church

Christian 1: So I hear you have a problem with lollipops? Christian 2: Lollipops? No, I think they’re just fine. Christian 1: But you apparently won’t eat them for family meals. Christian 2: That’s true. I prefer my family eats some kind of meat, vegetables or healthier food for their meals. Christian 1: So you… Continue Reading

The Value of Beauty

The Value of Beauty

This entry is part 6 of 11 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.

What possible value can the study of beauty deliver? Isn’t this fiddling while Rome burns, counting daffodil petals while barbarians lay siege to the city? In times of apostasy, false teaching, deception and darkness, shouldn’t aesthetics go to the bottom of the priority-pile? When caricatured as effete aestheticism, then yes, beauty will seem to be… Continue Reading

Beauty and Christianity’s Primary Endeavors

Beauty and Christianity’s Primary Endeavors

This entry is part 5 of 11 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.

Once we understand that beauty is close to glory in meaning, we will without any difficulty find beauty at the heart of many Christian endeavors. The most obvious is worship. Worship is the act of returning to God affections corresponding to His beauty. Psalm 29:1-2 captures this: “Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,… Continue Reading

Beauty as Scripture’s Theme

Beauty as Scripture’s Theme

This entry is part 4 of 11 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 idea of beauty is present in the first chapters of the Bible, as God creates and then makes the evaluative judgement that it was “good”. God was not judging the morality of the world, but praising the the beauty of creation. The Bible opens with God creating a cosmos which was aesthetically pleasing to… Continue Reading

Beauty in Scripture’s Words and Forms

Beauty in Scripture’s Words and Forms

This entry is part 3 of 11 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.

C. S. Lewis once wrote that the modern dilemma is either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste—or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience or to lack another kind because we are outside it. As thinkers we are cut off from… Continue Reading

Beauty in the Hebrew Bible

Beauty in the Hebrew Bible

This entry is part 2 of 11 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.

Few Christians would say that beauty is unbiblical. After all, they vaguely remember references to “the beauty of holiness” or the desire “to behold the beauty of the LORD”. But many might think of beauty as extra-biblical: mostly an aesthetic and philosophical concept, more at home in art galleries and philosophy lecture-halls than in churches… Continue Reading

In Pursuit of a Doxology

In Pursuit of a Doxology

This entry is part of 11 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.

In 1962, A. W. Tozer warned that the evangelical church was missing a jewel. “Now, worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism. We’re organized; we work; we have our agendas. We have almost everything, but there’s one thing that the churches, even the gospel churches, do not have: that is the ability to worship.… Continue Reading