Category Archives: Articles on Aesthetics

Judging Beauty in Creation (2)

Judging Beauty in Creation (2)

This entry is part 23 of 23 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.

We continue with the next three aspects of experiencing beauty in creation. Immediate Response After contemplating beauty receptively, we experience an immediate response, which is usually unpremeditated and almost instinctive. This immediate response is not the final judgement of the soul upon what it is encountering, only its initial reaction. To take this superficial reaction… Continue Reading

Judging Beauty in Creation

Judging Beauty in Creation

This entry is part 22 of 23 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 two domains of God’s revelation are general revelation and special revelation. God has revealed Himself to all men generally through the created order, and God has revealed Himself specifically to some through His Word, mediated through various agents. If we wish to perceive the beauty of God, we will find it in both domains,… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Description

Beauty’s Description

This entry is part 21 of 23 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 defined may be abstract and remote; beauty described should be concrete. What does beauty look like? For that matter, since beauty is not only (or even primarily) visual, what does beauty sound like, feel like, or seem like? When we have encountered or experienced beauty, what is that experience? The best approach is to… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Definition: What About the Cross?

Beauty’s Definition: What About the Cross?

This entry is part 20 of 23 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.

If beauty is ultimately God’s self-knowledge and communicative self-delight, we can explain easily enough why other theories of beauty have defined beauty as harmony and symmetry, or truth and goodness, or pleasure and delight. For Trinitarian love is the ultimate and absolute form of harmony and unity, being a symmetry not of objects but of… Continue Reading

Beauty’s Definition: Addenda

Beauty’s Definition: Addenda

This entry is part 19 of 23 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.

Jonathan Edwards combined insights from each of the theories of beauty, while being primarily theological. His theory was different from his Christian forbearers, though. Instead of resting on the medieval idea that God’s beauty was equivalent to his being, Edwards insisted that the beauty of God is God’s interaction with his being. Beauty is not… Continue Reading

Beauty Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

Beauty Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

This entry is part 18 of 23 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 23 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

Beauty’s Difficulties: Accounting for Taste

Beauty’s Difficulties: Accounting for Taste

This entry is part 16 of 23 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 23 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 23 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 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

Aesthetic Correspondence

Aesthetic Correspondence

For a couple weeks I have been developing the idea that in order to disciple people through corporate worship, our corporate worship must be shaped by the means God has given us for such transformation—Scripture. This means both that our liturgies must be shaped by Scripture and our music must be shaped by Scripture. There has… 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 23 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 23 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 23 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 23 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 23 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