It seems to me that contemporary Christians really struggle with beauty. No, I am not talking about the lack of hotties in church either (!) Rather I am talking about architecture, interior design, aesthetics, art, music ... that sort of beauty. To be sure, this also applies to men and women, but that's not the angle I want to explore right now.
Over at Gentle Wisdom, Peter Kirk is picking up a thread on aesthetics and worship, in particular, the aesthetics of our meeting places used for worship. A suggestion is raised that perhaps we shouldn't even bother about crafting a space with a sacred aesthetic, to which Kirk responds:
I tend to agree. We need functional spaces, buildings to meet in. But it is not for us humans to declare them sacred or presume to make them “crafted specially for a human-divine encounter with God”. If we are to “develop a sense of awe and wonder”, we should do this not through buildings which then become idols, but by beholding and reflecting the glory of God, 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Whilst on one hand I can agree with Peter's statement, I am left troubled thoughts: that this approach can and does lead to a pseudo-gnostic approach to Christian faith, where things of this earth count for little or nothing, and things of Faith is all that matters. Is this why contemporary Christianity struggles with concepts such as beauty, and for that matter, New Creation? If in Christ we are a New Creation, and we await not an ethereal eternity in the celestial clouds, but a renewed physical universe [New Earth], then surely we can't short change issues such as aesthetics and beauty. If redeemed humanity are sons and daughters of the Most High, and if we are taking the cultural mandate seriously ("Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it" Gen 1:28), then surely we can't let what we know is a fallen and decaying world under the power of Satan have the last word on architecture, music, art, and beauty?
In summary, I believe the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit is beautiful, and that whatever God has made in some way reflects his beauty. All beauty originates from God. In addition, as redeemed Sons and Daughters of God, Christians should aim to fulfil the cultural mandate and fill the world with beauty.
Now if this is true, perhaps the aesthetics of the buildings we worship is not completely insignificant. Perhaps the aesthetics of the worship should be considered. Perhaps we need to take a long hard look at how a theology of aesthetics and beauty would change the way the think about mission, worship, art, and work.
Its time for the church and for Christians to wake up to the fact that God is not only truth, and love, and light, and holy, but that God is beautiful. Over the next few days I will try to expand and unpack what this means to us.