Re-Enchanting the Gospel

Re-Enchanting the Gospel: The Role of Objective Beauty in Worship

By Dr. James R. Hart, President
The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

The role of beauty in worship
is the communication and application
of the truth and goodness of God.

Dr. James HartIWS Professor Dr. Reggie Kidd wrote the following in his book With One Voice:

A theology that cannot be preached is not worth having, I once heard a preacher declare. I can’t argue with that. Truth that can’t be applied isn’t worth bothering about… The whole premise of Christianity is that to do us any good God’s love had to come down from heaven, right here to where we live.

Here’s a corollary to the preacher’s quip: a theology that cannot be sung is not worth having either. Authentic Christian faith is not merely believed. Nor is it merely acted upon. It is sung—with utter joy sometimes, in uncontrollable tears sometimes, but it is sung.

He goes on to say, “Song is a means he has given us to communicate our deepest affections, to have our thoughts exquisitely shaped, and to have our spirits braced for the boldest of obediences. Through music, our God draws us deeper into a love affair with himself.”

I want to suggest that this is not only true with music, but it is potentially true with all artistic expression. But more to it, this is precisely the role of beauty in worship—the communication and application of the truth and goodness of God that fires our hearts and souls with an intense love of God, and therefore an intense love of all mankind.  [Continue reading. . .]

About the author

Dr. James R. Hart has served as President of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies since 2007. Dr. Hart was a member of the first IWS doctoral class, the Alpha class, and served as Dean of Students during his matriculation. After graduating from IWS, Dr. Webber appointed him as the Dean of Administration, and then Provost in 2006. In June of 2007, he was inaugurated as the second president of IWS. Dr. Hart holds a B.M. in Sacred Music from Oral Roberts University, an M.M. in Trumpet Performance from the University of Tulsa, and a D.W.S. from the Institute for Worship Studies. He was critical to the formation of IWS in Florida and has held administrative responsibilities since its inception in 1999. He is a professional trumpeter, choral director, and worship leader, and a published composer/arranger, songwriter, and author. He has been involved in worship leadership in various contexts around the globe for over 40 years and has taught in the areas of worship, theology, and music in various conferences, colleges, and seminaries. Dr. Hart and his wife, Carol, have three daughters and three grandchildren.