The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth

The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth

The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth

The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth

Excerpt

The rather prosaic question that initially prompted this long, elliptical essay in theological aesthetics, stated most simply, was this: Is the beauty to whose persuasive power the Christian rhetoric of evangelism, inevitably appeals, and upon which it depends, theologically defensible? Admittedly, at first, such a question might appear at best merely marginal, at worst somewhat precious; but, granted a second glance, it opens out upon the entire Christian tradition as a question that implicitly accompanies the tradition's every proclamation of itself. Christianity has from its beginning portrayed itself as a gospel of peace, a way of reconciliation (with God, with other creatures), and a new model of human community, offering the "peace which passes understanding" to a world enmeshed in sin and violence. The earliest confession of Christian faith — — meant nothing less radical than that Christ's peace, having suffered upon the cross the decisive rejection of the powers of this world, had been raised up by God as the true form, of human existence: an eschatologically perfect love, now made invulnerable to all the violences of time, and yet also made incomprehensibly present in the midst of history, because God's final judgment had already befallen the world in the paschal vindication of Jesus of Nazareth. It is only as the offer of this peace within time, as a real and available practice, that the Christian evangel (and, in particular, the claim that Christ crucified has been raised from the dead) has any meaning at all; only if the form of Christ can be lived out in the community of the church is the confession of the church true; only if Christ can be practiced is Jesus Lord. No matter how often the subsequent history of the church belied this confession, it is this presence within time of an eschatological and divine peace, really incarnate in the . . .

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