The Power of Beauty


Why think that collecting knowledge is more precious than the experience of beauty? Both the violin and the syllogism provide an expository element to the theodrama of cosmic redemption that would not have been known otherwise. The intellectual without the aesthetic, then, is wonderfully absurd—like art without eyes, or a colorful meal without taste. We are more than repositories of information, we are God-images in glorious, visible performance. Creation is a theatre, and all the stage is one of the theodrama of cosmic redemption. Theologians who do nothing more than map raw data, who do not speak often about the beauty of their subject, and whose capacity to experience wonder has shriveled in the presence of pursuing academic prestige, have, incidentally, rendered their vocation insensible. The dispassionate intellectual is ἀνάθεμα in the theatre of God’s glory.

Perhaps we can go further, and suggest that the task of the Christian theologian ought to be deeply interwoven into the experience of beauty, or else, the entire task ought to die honorably (and be born-again). Theology should do more than tell us something. It ought to show us something worth telling. This is why a concerto can produce what the theological task often fails to do. Good theologians transfigure our imagination, and affectively develop us into passionate artisans of God’s self-disclosure. And unless beauty is returned to the task of theology, unless we learn to speak with fascinating curiosity about God, then we have at present in the fixed patterns of academic theology, nothing more than the art of trivializing the infinite.

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