Art and Beauty in the Bible
Beeson Divinity School Chapel Series
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4
As King David testified here and elsewhere in the psalter, God himself and all his works are truly beautiful, or glorious.
Most of us would agree—and would stand in good company. Augustine of Hippo, John of Damascus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and many other saints have for centuries commemorated the beauty, excellency and glory of the Lord as found in Scripture and the world that it portrays. During the 1960s, a Swiss Roman Catholic priest named Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, published seven major volumes on The Glory of the Lord (Herrlichkeit in German). And in the 21st century, Christian artists like Makoto Fujimura have asked believers to reflect upon and imitate the artistry of God.
Jonathan Edwards, a founding father of our evangelical movement, went so far as to suggest that inasmuch as “God is infinitely the greatest Being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent: and all the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who hath an infinite fullness of brightness and glory.” The Lord, in other words, “is the foundation and fountain of all being and all beauty.” Fujimura adds “from the vantage point of an artist” that God is the prime and ultimate artist, the source of creativity, who calls us to “reclaim creativity and imagination as essential, central and necessary parts of our faith journey.”
Yet beauty remains today the least studied of the trio of so-called “transcendentals” (the most basic commonalities of things that have being: truth, goodness and beauty). And the beauty of the Lord is rarely mentioned in our churches. So in chapel this term, we will explore some of the things that God has shown us in his Word about his beauty, or glory, the beauty of the cosmos, and the ways in which he wants us to reflect and cultivate divine beauty in our lives.
Our prayer is that the Lord will help us all to grow more beautiful by dwelling on his beauty—more ready, willing and able to reflect, and thus magnify, his glory in the world.
All services take place at 11 a.m. in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel.