Sunday, February 03, 2008

theology of beauty - why???

many have asked why we'd "bother" doing a series like this, so i'll reprint my rationale below (taken from the intro of our Teaching Atlas)

There are four major (and perhaps innumerable minor) reasons why we’ve chosen to address the topics of beauty, creativity, aesthetics and creation in Fusion.

1. beauty is a signpost to God

Because all beauty comes from God, reflects God, and reveals God we can have conversations about God every time we see something truly wonderful. Even more significantly, independent of any conversations about beauty, God can use beauty itself to reveal Himself directly to people.

2. imagination is one of our four core values at Westwinds

While our recent series, Sweet Dreams are Made of This, focused on the permission piece of iPac (imagination, permission, authenticity, community), and many other talks have focused on being real and being in community, we realized that it has been years since we spoke specifically about the role of imagination in faith and we felt it was appropriate to do so now. In particular, we wanted to do a series on imagination that was guaranteed to have a teaching atlas provided, so we could be sure to always have that on hand at Sound Words so anyone with questions about this value could have some document to work off of.

3. we want to explain why we design our corporate experiences in the ways that we do, to foster a better understanding of our values

We do things so differently at Westwinds than at other churches, and people always ask us why. To be honest, it can be fairly tiring to answer the same questions all of the time, so we thought that a public, systematic approach, would serve to answer many of those questions once-and-for-all (yeah…right).

4. the Church in the West is severely deficient in its understanding of a Theology of Beauty; and, as a result, instead of looking for, creating, and authenticating those things that are beautiful in the world we spend most of our time concerned with the world’s ugliness. This leaves us woefully out of balance and unable to fully articulate who the source of all real beauty Is.

The Bible is an incredibly rich and varied book, with many themes and movements of God described in many, many, ways; however, much of Western theology in the last several hundred years has (inadvertently) truncated and abbreviated the Bible to be solely about Sin. While it is true that Sin is a major theme throughout scripture, it is not the only theme, nor is it either the first or primary concern of God in the scriptures.

Our role as participants with God is so often overlooked, and plays such a key factor in any biblical understanding of beauty, that we feel it deserves to be elevated to a position of equal consideration with the doctrine of satisfaction.

In this way, we’re attempting to bring together three of the main strains of 20th Century theology: Reformed theology, Orthodox theology, and Wesleyan theology. Such a unity is rarely dared, almost never hoped for, and almost never celebrated; but we believe that these three great understandings find far more harmony within the biblical text than within our varied religious traditions and, at Westwinds at least, we feel like its part of our job to try and bring them back together from their fracture.

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