Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A Brief Reflection on God's Beauty and Glory
In the biblical traditions—despite the variety of perspectives in its various books—there remains a remarkable unity about beauty. It is woven with God’s goodness and most importantly, the divine glory. Beauty does not stand alone and certainly never apart from God as its source.Thus, in the Scirptures, the centrality of God’s glory and the people of the covenant’s call to glorify God. To glorify God is to point to God’s own glory. Divine glory involves God’s very character of holiness, and holiness is first of all God’s otherness because the nature of deity is perfection. God’s holiness thus evokes our awe and praise. In Hebrew and Greek, God’s glory (kabod and doxa) also includes God’s beauty. The Reformation finds God’s glory throughout the deep grammar of Scripture as well as in specific biblical texts. For example, Isaiah 6:1-8 describes the prophet’s famous call; Isaiah finds himself in a divine throne room. YHWH’s presence evokes wonder and fear. Similarly, the Reformed understanding of worship builds on Isaiah 6 as it seeks to evoke God’s majesty and power. The worship service is designed to lead the congregation in glorifying the Lord. In other texts, such as Moses’ experience with YHWH in Exodus 40:34ff., God’s glory even includes a certain luminosity. So glory implies wonder and fear, and the human response to God in worship seeks to mirror this experience.