Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Christian Beauty

I've been thinking about this a bit recently. I think one of the implications that we (or me as a conservative evangelical at any rate) often miss of Christ is that he transforms our notion of beauty via the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2). So part of what it means to be living as a Christian is to be displaying this sense of beauty (and to be becoming more truly beautiful ourselves as we come closer to Christ).

It would be easy to make one of the mistakes Hillsong are sometimes characterised as making here and then using the world's notion of beauty to inform how we should be becoming, but it's rubbish. And it's easy to criticise them as they are stereotyped, but at least they got far enough to realise there was an issue of beauty to be considered!

Here are a couple of quotes that illustrate something of what I mean?

But when the church puts belief into practice, in relation to man and to nature, there is substantial healing. One of the first fruits of that healing is a new sense of beauty. The aesthetic values are not to be despised. God has made man with a sense of beauty no animal has; no animal has ever produced a work of art. Man as made in the image of God has an aesthetic quality, and as soon as he begins to deal with nature as he should, beauty is preserved in nature.
Francis A Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man

Grasped in its proper Trinitarian depth, the gospel narrative not only breaks down all human perceptions of beauty, goodness, and truth, but reorients these broken perceptions around the centre to which it bears witness, and in this way reconstitutes and perfects them. Jesus' cross and resurrection are like a magnetic point around which history and culture take on a shape which could not be anticipated from any perspective they themselves provide, and which they could not otherwise have assumed...
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama

So what does this Christian conception of beauty look like?

The obvious answer is "Jesus", but it's also surprisingly deep. Do we think of Jesus as beautiful? Do we think of the woman's costly and humiliating devotion to Jesus (Matt 26, Mark 14) as beautiful? Do we think of the preaching of Christ as beautiful (Rom 10:25)? Do we think of the gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet 3:4) as beautiful?

There's some more thinking that needs to be done here...

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