Aesthetics And The Place Of Beauty In Worship -- By: John Mason Hodges

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: Aesthetics And The Place Of Beauty In Worship
Author: John Mason Hodges

Aesthetics And The Place
Of Beauty In Worship

John Mason Hodges

Christians have a spiritual and intellectual war with the surrounding culture on their hands over one thing: unbelievers have adopted a relativistic approach toward the very nature of truth and goodness. Neither side can imagine the other’s position. The Christian cannot imagine how an unbeliever can hold that truth or morality can be different in differing situations. The unbeliever cannot imagine how the Christian can hold to one truth or moral stance in all circumstances because life is so multi-faceted. The result is that each side speaks to the other in platitudes, clichés and bumper stickers, never gaining a hearing from the other. “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” “Jesus, save me from your followers.” “Abortion is murder.” “Meat is murder.” “In the event of rapture, this car will be unmanned.” “My other car is a broom.” In this war each side thinks the other impossibly lost. How can we break down the barriers and make the gospel compelling again in our day?

Any view of the world that is worth discussing must deal with several areas: Is there a God? If so, what is he like? Where did the universe come from? What is man, and where did he come from? And where is he going after death? But also, there are what the philosophers call transcendental ideas. Truth and goodness are transcendental in that they are eternal and supernaturally derived. Any view of the world worth discussing must deal with the nature of these ideas, not just their content. How do we know what is

true? How do we know what is moral?1

There is a third transcendental idea: beauty. So any world and life view worth discussing must deal with the nature of beauty as well. How do we know what is beautiful?

Christians clearly see the need to call the world back to biblical standards regarding truth and goodness. God himself is true—he is what truth is. God himself is what goodness is—his behavior and character are the standard of good and moral behavior. However, the God we serve is not only truth and goodness personified, he is also beauty personified. Psalm 27:4 speaks of David’s desire “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord ...” throughout eternity. Evangelical apologetical systems today usually ignore a discussion of the beautiful, and this article proposes that we will continue to have difficulty speaking in a way this culture can hear unless we include beauty in our apologetics.

If the culture that Christians generate is not beautiful in a way n...

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