Series: Doxology: A Theology of God's Beauty

In Pursuit of a Doxology

In Pursuit of a Doxology

This entry is part of 22 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

Beauty in the Hebrew Bible

Beauty in the Hebrew Bible

This entry is part 2 of 22 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

Beauty in Scripture’s Words and Forms

Beauty in Scripture’s Words and Forms

This entry is part 3 of 22 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 as Scripture’s Theme

Beauty as Scripture’s Theme

This entry is part 4 of 22 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 and Christianity’s Primary Endeavors

Beauty and Christianity’s Primary Endeavors

This entry is part 5 of 22 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

The Value of Beauty

The Value of Beauty

This entry is part 6 of 22 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 Reality

Beauty and Reality

This entry is part 7 of 22 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

Beauty and Knowledge

Beauty and Knowledge

This entry is part 8 of 22 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, Ethics and Worship

Beauty, Ethics and Worship

This entry is part 9 of 22 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

Beauty and Motivation

Beauty and Motivation

This entry is part 10 of 22 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’s Difficulties: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

Beauty’s Difficulties: Philosophy versus Biblical Authority

This entry is part 11 of 22 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’s Difficulties: Subjective and Objective

Beauty’s Difficulties: Subjective and Objective

This entry is part 12 of 22 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: 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 22 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: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Beauty’s Difficulties: A Case of Mistaken Identity

This entry is part 14 of 22 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

Beauty’s Difficulties: The Problem of Taste

Beauty’s Difficulties: The Problem of Taste

This entry is part 15 of 22 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: Accounting for Taste

Beauty’s Difficulties: Accounting for Taste

This entry is part 16 of 22 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 Definition

Beauty’s Definition

This entry is part 17 of 22 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 Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

Beauty Defined (With Some Help From Edwards)

This entry is part 18 of 22 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: Addenda

Beauty’s Definition: Addenda

This entry is part 19 of 22 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’s Definition: What About the Cross?

Beauty’s Definition: What About the Cross?

This entry is part 20 of 22 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