Celebrating Past Beauty (1)
So, what specifically constitutes beauty in theological prose? Throughout this blog I have identified and discussed works that have profoundly affected me. Although I didn’t then use the term “beauty,” I realize now that its presence explains much of my reaction.
Some examples in which theological prose achieved beauty include President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, John Calvin’s exposition on Christ’s suffering and death, Wilbert F. Howard’s Interpreter’s Bible exposition on John 2:13-17, Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on Christ’s simultaneous power and meekness, and R.C. Sproul’s The Pelagian Captivity of the Church. Also, to show that beauty is not entirely dead, Wilfred M. McClay’s The Strange Persistence of Guilt is a wonderful contemporary example (although it isn’t primarily theological, it delves deeply enough into this domain to allow inclusion).
However the piece that initiated these thoughts about theological beauty was recently republished at the Providence web site. The article, The Manger, The Cross and The Resurrection: A Christian Interpretation of Our Time written by Paul Ramsey was originally published in Christianity and Crisis on April 19, 1943.
Going forward I plan to comment on some of these examples of beauty in theological prose and then discuss the Paul Ramsey article in greater detail.