This is a description for a course I’ve developed called “Beauty Ever Ancient, Ever New: An Introduction to Theological Aesthetics.” If you’re interested, drop me a line!
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “Beauty is only skin deep.” For many, beauty is a ‘superficial’ concept whlch seems out of place in Christian theology. However, Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that the person who forgets or sneers at beauty “can no longer pray and soon will be unable to love.” Is beauty of vital importance to our understanding of God? The history of Christian thought is full of discussions of the beauty of God and creation, from Augustine’s beauty “ever ancient, ever new” to theologians as diverse as Jonathan Edwards and David Bentley Hart. Moreover, the past century has seen the rise of “theological aesthetics,” a renewed attempt to recover an approach to both knowing God through beauty and investigating earthly beauty in light of divine glory. This course will examine topics such as the beauty of the Triune God, the beauty of the cross, and the beauty of humanity in the image of God by surveying the work of major theologians from across the broad spectrum of the Christian tradition. We will then attempt to bring a “theology of beauty” into conversation with contemporary cultural discussions of beauty and meaning, including issues surrounding art, justice and the human person.