The Aethetics Of An Argument
Aesthetics matter to me.
This doesn’t mean I don’t like football, or hunting, or fishing…I just really value aesthetics.
I recently had someone ask me about my teaching style and how it relates to my value for symmetry and beauty. To be honest, while I have thought about this before, I had never articulated a rationale of how the two are related. While some might assume that an artistic person would prefer more of a “free form” story teller type of preacher – I actually get bored quickly if there is not a clear, linear, tightly planned argumentation. This might have to do with my own intellectual and spiritual journey more than anything else, but I don’t want to completely dismiss the relationship between aesthetics and apologetics.
Some of my favorite authors and teachers are people who teach from the overflow of a well-studied, yet creative, mind. I think the reason I love speakers like Tim Keller, and authors like C.S. Lewis, is that their train of thought is always intentional, vivid, strategic, and powerfully creative. The aesthetic value does not reside in their gimmicks but in their content. While some modern day speakers are applauded for luxurious props (like having a Lamborghini on stage while they preach) I think such antics reveal a lack of creativity. While I have no biblical nor dogmatic personal preference against such methods, I don’t rate them as “overly” creative.
For me, and I know everyone differs on such preferences, the creativity I value the most comes from the content of someone’s sermon. It is the aesthetics of an argument that I value more than props, gimmicks, store bought illustrations, or the like.
“The Puritans applied such poetic artistry to their sermonizing….” “Puritan writers, readers, and auditors found not only piety, but also aesthetic pleasure in the manipulation of the biblical text”.
(Stephen Nichols. 2007. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. Jesus made in America, 25)