Essays toward a Theology of Beauty Part I: God Is Beautiful -- By: F. Duane Lindsey

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:522 (Apr 1974)
Article: Essays toward a Theology of Beauty Part I: God Is Beautiful
Author: F. Duane Lindsey

Essays toward a Theology of Beauty
Part I:
God Is Beautiful

F. Duane Lindsey

[F. Duane Lindsey, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

A Rembrandt or a Rodin who creates a work of art deserves from the person who gazes upon it, the response: “That is beautiful!” The eternal God Who is infinite in all His perfections deserves from the believer who contemplates Him, the response: “God is beautiful!”

“God is beautiful?” the pious Protestant may ask, searching his theological tradition for such an unheard of idea, and reacting to the connotation of pleasure, desire, and enjoyment that such an expression may connote.

“Yes, God is beautiful!” The affirmation must be maintained.

“Now wait just a minute,” might continue the objector, “is not God invisible? How, then, can He be beautiful?”

“Well, have you never heard a beautiful symphony? Then beauty does not have to be physically visible, does it?”

“Alright, then, but is beauty not limited to that which can be perceived by some sense experience—you see it—you hear it …?”

“Let’s look at it from another direction. Miguel Najdorf, the Polish chess grandmaster now residing in Argentina, received a brilliancy prize for a chess victory which has come to be known as the ‘Polish immortal.’1 A relatively short (22 move) game, containing diverse actual and concealed combinations of play with seven sacrifices by Najdorf leading through a series of forced moves on his opponent’s part, and culminating in a crushing checkmate, this particular chess game is truly beautiful—beautiful not because of the

shape or color of the pieces used, nor because of the visible movement of pieces on the board, but beautiful because of the logical coherence and variety if the combination of force, time, and space within the principles of the game of chess.”

“But,” the objector, still unconvinced, continues, “does not God transcend space and time? How, then, can we speak of Him as beautiful?”

The answer to this question must come out of the answer to another question: What is it that makes a picture beautiful? What is it that makes a symphony or a chess combination beautiful? What, in short, is the essence of beauty?

There are three basic theories regarding the nature of beauty.2 The first is the formal theory, which locates beauty in certain qualities inherent in realities. ...

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