A Place for Verbal Aesthetics

 

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Right. What we want is people to know the truth and be drawn, not by our eloquence of speech, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. Even the Bible prompts us that the main tool of false teachers is their ability to scratch itching ears. But that doesn’t mean that truth possesses no beauty and that we are obligated to present it as dry and as mechanical as possible.

There has been, I suspect, a false dichotomy made between beauty and truth; that a beautiful preaching is hot on the 2 Timothy 4:3 hit list, and that a biblically faithful preaching is confirmed of its truthfulness once its hearers start yawning. And make no mistake, this is really happening. The former to the shame of the wicked, and the latter to the shame of the saint. But this is not the norm. Because the God of truth is beautiful, truth will always be beautiful for they reflect Him and lies will always be ugly for they are a sign of rebellion against Him.

It is but the darkness in man’s heart that makes truth annoying and makes falsehood enticing. It is a glitch in the system, so to say. Sin can never create anything original, it can only distort what God has given. And so being lights of the world includes the task of exhibiting how these gifts are properly utilized. We aim to do things according to God’s will and thus creating a bright glow that will disturb the world’s idols. We are in a mission to redeem the gift of art from the greasy basin of corruption into which it has been plunged. And when I say art, I mean to include the kind that involves words.

The Scripture is the finest object that our hands will ever lay upon. It should be, for it is God-breathed. We who handle it dare not reduce it into an encyclopedic reference book of facts. We present it in all its splendor before the watching world, not because our goal is to let aesthetics do the task of bringing dead people back to life, but because that is how a sober witness should speak. We present it beautifully whether people get converted or not, for if we’ve really seen the majesty of the Word incarnate, an intentionally dehydrated proclamation of the Good News is an oxymoron.

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