I was not raised in a Christian home and I came to faith at age 43 never having entered a church. And yet I love the ecclesiastical forms we are so quickly letting go of, the pews, baptismal pool, pulpit, stained glass, church buildings, steeples, and the bell.
The Christian Pundit did a wonderful series a while ago on Ecclesiastical Architecture and it was informative and fascinating. Why do we have pews? How do the design decision our forbears made connect theology and beauty and function? What message do they communicate about our view of God? Here is the list of 8 parts in the series.
Ecclesiastical Architecture (1) Intro
Ecclesiastical Architecture (2) The Pulpit
Ecclesiastical Architecture (3) Sacraments
Ecclesiastical Architecture (4) Baptism
Ecclesiastical Architecture (5) Music
Ecclesiastical Architecture (6) Lighting
Ecclesiastical Architecture (7) Pews
Ecclesiastical Architecture (8) Conclusion
Along that same vein, a course offered at Ligonier Connect called has piqued my interest. I am always intrigued by beauty. Part 1 of my coming to the Lord was through seeing His creation. Having been taught evolution, I understood (with my blinded mind) the function of evolution, but no one could ever answer why the world is so beautiful, too. I wrote about that issue in 2009, in an essay titled Consider Beauty.
Still interested in the issue, last week I linked to a good article exploring the issue of beauty at Answers In Genesis. I'd introduced the piece by saying-
Here, Prof. Stuart Burgess muses on the witness of nature in its design, particularly, beauty. Evolution might be explained to the irrational mind through function. But it didn't have to be beautiful, too. Beauty—The Undeniable WitnessThen along came the Recovering the Beauty of the Arts class and after reading the synopsis below I was all-in.
Universal standards on what makes something beautiful seem to be a thing of the past. Even among Christians, for whom there is a longstanding tradition of appreciation for and commitment to the arts, there is confusion and disagreement.Meanwhile I happened to have my camera in church today and I snapped a few photos. We are a church plant renting a church as our building. The church is a viable church, they have Sunday services on Sunday mornings and evenings. This is why our services begin at 3:30. It's their in-between times. The building we are renting is a traditional building, brick outside, with soaring glass windows, wooden pews, hymnals, a steeple, and so on. I am so glad we are in this space, because it is beautiful. Here are a few photos.
In this course, Dr. Sproul explores ancient and biblical definitions of beauty, the cultural significance of dominant art forms and the messages they communicate, and the place of artistic expression in Christian worship. The end result is a careful guide to recovering a healthy, biblical view of what is good, true, and beautiful.
And don't dismiss the beautiful in your ecclesiastical choices. Every decision yo make, even decisions not to have art or beautiful forms inside your church, is a design decision which communicates something that you believe about God. Theology and beauty are connected. The very first people endowed with the Holy Spirit in the Bible were artisans, creating a beautiful tabernacle for the Lord.