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. . .]