At the Younger Leaders Summit just prior to the Southern Baptist Convention, Chris Seay (pastor/author) spoke of truth. He actually spoke highly of truth and the need to communicate it, which is why I think it’s funny that his message made a few people uncomfortable. Okay, maybe they got off on the wrong foot when he said Thomas Kinkade’s paintings were “junk art” and implied that the Left Behind series is worthless. In reality what he said was that truth should not only be communicated via propositions. He said the problem is that when truth is laid out there “naked,” in mere propositional form, it often lacks a compelling interest. He said, “Beauty is what makes truth palatable. It’s what makes it work. If not, it becomes dogma, and it’s threatening. And we’ve come to the place as evangelical Christians that we’ve been known as a people of dogma, not as a people of beauty.” The truth of the Gospel must be expressed as more than facts or concepts to be adopted, but also as something beautiful and wooing. Not only do I like what he said, simply put – it’s biblical! One example is song. Consider the place song/music has in Scripture. It is not simply permissible, but commanded of God. These are things God wants from us and for us. He calls us to sing before the nations and through that he reveals himself to the world and draws people to himself. Through art (song) we can declare God’s redemptive glory among the nations.
Of course we are called to preach, to verbally communicate the Gospel to those who have ears to hear, but even this should be done with serious artistic/creative effort. Consider the prophets or Jesus himself. They used metaphor and story to paint a picture of the kingdom that was beautiful. These men did not simply enumerate abstract principles, but they showed how the truth of God’s reign was beautiful and worthy of our attention. You see, beauty is a draw. And nothing is more beautiful than God himself. Beauty leads us to him.
This does not do away with telling the terrifying realities of God. He is a God of holiness, a God of wrath. This too must be preached/taught, but the contrasting truth is the beautiful “good news.” It is shown to be even lovelier when painted on the canvass of God’s judgment.
Chris’ point seemed to me to be a corrective. In preaching the Gospel to the world, we must do more than lay out four spiritual laws, or steps to peace with God. Our evangelism must be better than a recitation of facts, but should be expressed in such a way that the glory (beauty?) of God can be clearly seen.