Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Review of "The Beauty of the Triune God"

Jonathan Edwards has seen a resurgence lately, especially among those writing dissertations and for good reason. Edward's thoughts are rich and full of promise for theologians looking to navigate their way through our post-Christian age. In this vein, The Beauty of the Triune God: The Theological Aesthetics of Jonathan Edwards by Kin Yip Louie holds promise for those seeking to explore what a Christian theory of aesthetic might look like.

Louie admits that his work is largely descriptive and not proscriptive. He explores Edwards' thinking on beauty and metaphysics, God, Christ and eschatology. This to me is the strength of the book since we get to hear from Edwards himself. Rather than a critique of Edwards, I felt that Louie treated the material fairly...even some of the more difficult areas like hell. In essence, Edwards held that hell could be perceived as beautiful since God's justice was being done. This is admittedly a difficult pill to swallow and yet Louie, without fully accepting Edwards' stance, still manages to salvage some pearls from the discussion.

The weakest part of the book to me was the conclusion. After surveying so much beauty in Edwards, I was a little disappointed with the lapse into discussion of art and the cultural mandate and its relationship to postmodernism. To me, Edwards' conception of beauty has much more to say to those engaged in politics, media, architecture, design, church leadership, missionaries, city planners and more. Yet these areas were essentially unexplored and Louie disappointingly steers us back to a narrow conception of art and music. For a work as broad and wonderful as this, I just felt a little cheated at the end.

However, that shouldn't prevent you from read this work. I loved it. There are many quotable lines and many, many moments where you will go "Wow...that's awesome!" For a dissertation-turned-book, I can't think of much higher praise.

*Thanks to Pickwick Publications for providing the free review copy in exchange for a fair review*

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