Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Objectivity of Beauty (part 2)

Why is the objectivity of beauty important? There are at least five reasons why the objectivity of beauty is important and why Christians need to think seriously about this issue from a Biblical worldview.

5 Reasons Why the Objectivity of Beauty is Important for a Christian

1. Understanding the objectivity of beauty is important for Christians because of the requirement to have a Biblical worldview.

“A worldview is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world."[1]

As Christians, the Word of God forms the interpretive framework, or worldview, by which we make sense of the world.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul urges believers to “[bring] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:5) If every thought must be submitted to Christ’s Lordship, then it follows that there is nothing outside the scope of a Biblical worldview.

In the first chapter of Colossians, Paul tells us in many different ways that Christ has authority over all things. If all things come together and have meaning in Christ, then it follows that as Christians we should seek to develop a specifically Christ-centered way of thinking about every topic. There are no neutral subjects. We have a mandate to apply the categories of the Biblical worldview to everything from trees to turnips, from cars to computers and from bees to barns. And also to beauty.

2. Understanding the objectivity of beauty is important for Christians so that we are not taken in by relativism.

Relativism says that there are no absolutes: what is true for you may not necessarily be true for me.

It is in the area of beauty that Christians are quick to embrace relativism by assuming that judgments about a thing’s beauty are completely subjective. As the common truism puts it, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

By understanding the objectivity of beauty, we are armed against this particular conduit of relativism.

3. Understanding the objectivity of beauty is important for Christian evangelism.

Without an understanding of beauty’s objectivity, Christians are hindered from effectively witnessing to the beauty of God’s holiness since ‘beauty’ is reduced to a vacuous concept. To a world that is slipping into ever deeper degrees of ugliness, a rediscovery of objective goodness, truth and beauty is at the heart of our testimony to the world.

4. Understanding the objectivity of beauty is important so that we can grow in aesthetic wisdom.

If beauty exists merely in the eye of the beholder, then aesthetic growth is impossible since growth implies a standard outside of ourselves towards which we can be moving. If we do not appreciate that beauty is objective, we will have no motivation for growing in aesthetic wisdom.

[1] Norman Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), p. 11.

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