"[T]his declaration focuses on a number of issues that the writers believe need to be reaffirmed in our current cultural context."

Kevin Bauder, Scott Aniol, Mike Riley, et. al. ... New Book—A Conservative Christian Declaration

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Jay's picture

I downloaded the PDF of this a few weeks ago and have read through it a couple of times at different points.  While I think I understand what the authors are trying to do, I am not sure that they're successful because, frankly, I'm having a difficult time understanding the need for this.  They say that:

Historically, Christians have committed themselves to perpetuating biblical Christianity by pursuing absolute truth, goodness, and beauty. These transcendent realities, which are grounded in the character of God, are expressed through his works and his Word. In every age, Christians have determined to believe God’s truth, live out God’s goodness, and love God’s beauty, preserving these transcendentals by nurturing expressions, forms, and institutions capable of carrying their weight.

More recently, many Christians have abandoned their commitment to these ideals and are therefore failing, in one respect or another, to pursue fully orbed biblical Christianity. The result is a shrunken creed, a waning piety, and a worship that has become irreverent and trivial. We object to this religious reductionism and desire to reclaim the entire heritage of Christian doctrine, obedience, and adoration.  We equally object to those movements attempting to preserve traditions that are not biblical Christianity but rather a progressivism from the past. An innovation is not made less an innovation because of its antiquity. Humanly invented doctrines, objects of piety, and elements of worship will never be part of a truly Christian tradition.

The following declaration reaffirms a historic commitment to fully orbed conservative Christianity. We believe in transcendent, absolute principles of truth, goodness, and beauty; we are confident that such principles are knowable; and we are determined to align ourselves and our ministries to those principles in our pursuit of the whole counsel of God. We also pledge to conserve those institutions and forms that best reflect a recognition and respect for this transcendent order.

A couple of thoughts.

  1. Historically, Christians have committed themselves to perpetuating biblical Christianity by pursuing absolute truth, goodness, and beauty. I agree with the authors until you get to 'goodness' and 'beauty', which is why I bolded that part.  I do not see where Christians have perpetuated Christianity by 'goodness' or 'beauty'.  I think that I could be persuaded to agree with goodness - as in the works of the Spirit - but beauty, as discussed, is going to need to defined and Scripturally defended, not just made as an assertion to be proclaimed.  When I hear an instrumental piece with no lyrics, it's can be considered "christian" because it's "beautiful"?  By what standard?  
     
  2. Why a 'conservative' Christianity?  I would imagine that an orthodox Christianity would be sufficient.  Right away, it seems as though we need to unnecessarily split the kingdom of God into those who are 'good Christians' and 'bad Christians' who need to be...re-educated, for lack of a better term.  It's not enough to hold to the correct doctrine...Now we make practice just as critical.  While that makes sense for some practices that tie in closely with doctrine (Baptism jumps immediately to mind), I'm not sure I understand why this topic should be important.
     
  3. The remarks about 'fully orbed conservative Christianity' are interesting.  Clearly, they have something in mind, but I have not been satisfied, based on what they have in the PDF (which might be why I need to read the book), that it's actually defined.  And if it isn't defined, then I have to look at this as a house of cards.  They clearly have a goal - and I might even agree with them on the goal in part - but if I can't understand it, why it's important or where to go in order to get there...then I think the communication fails and people are just more confused than when they started.

I know that Dr. Aniol and I have disagreed on this subject before, but I really just don't understand why this issue should be so important and I'm trying to understand why.  That's why I'm skeptical on this project so far.  I think it will be wildly successful for people that already understand (or think they understand) what the authors are writing, but for outsiders like me...there's a fair amount of head scratching.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Andrew K's picture

I haven't closely observed how this works on the ground, but I find a lot of this emphasis worrisome, frankly.

Does beauty objectively exist? and How do we know what beauty is? are two separate questions. Not that this group would deny that, but while most of us would agree on the first, agreement on the second would not be so easily reached. And we have to respect that.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Recommend everybody do more reading on the subject.

Of course beauty objectively exists, just as truth does. God created them and expects us to recognize them for what they are and pursue them, and love what He loves and hate what He hates. Further, beauty is a reflection of God's glory. It shows us something of His character. To the degree we do not love the beautiful and good, we continue to fall short of the glory of God. In other words, we sin.

I think the book is not likely to be all that helpful though, because for the most part, the group does not know how to talk to the people who need most what they have to say. I understand the difficulty. There are so few common denominators/shared beliefs anymore to reason from on these matters. And nobody studies history much anymore. But at the very least, a lot of patience and humility is required. (Some days I might have one or the other, but not usually enough of both... and the whole effort seems pretty hopeless to me, so I guess a whole of optimism is required as well!)

Andrew K's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Recommend everybody do more reading on the subject.

Of course beauty objectively exists, just as truth does. God created them and expects us to recognize them for what they are and pursue them, and love what He loves and hate what He hates. Further, beauty is a reflection of God's glory. It shows us something of His character. To the degree we do not love the beautiful and good, we continue to fall short of the glory of God. In other words, we sin.

I think the book is not likely to be all that helpful though, because for the most part, the group does not know how to talk to the people who need most what they have to say. I understand the difficulty. There are so few common denominators/shared beliefs anymore to reason from on these matters. And nobody studies history much anymore. But at the very least, a lot of patience and humility is required. (Some days I might have one or the other, but not usually enough of both... and the whole effort seems pretty hopeless to me, so I guess a whole of optimism is required as well!)

Yes, as I said, I don't think anyone here would dispute that. But once more, the identity of what is beautiful is not such an easy question.

Here's a very simple example:

I find beauty in literature, such as Shakespeare. My students don't always. Even when the understand him. Are they wrong? Are they failing to recognize beauty for what it is? Should I understand that there is something wrong with them, spiritually or aestheticly--or both?

This is precisely my warrant for dividing the two questions of 1) Does beauty objectively exist (we agree) and 2) How do know what is beautiful?
 

Jay's picture

 and 2) How do know what is beautiful?

Knowing that something is beautiful is a subjective objective.  Yes, Phil. 4:8 tells us to think on things that are lovely, excellent, or full of praise.  It does not, however, give me a criteria to define those things.  So when the writers say: 

In every age, Christians have determined to believe God’s truth, live out God’s goodness, and love God’s beauty, preserving these transcendentals by nurturing expressions, forms, and institutions capable of carrying their weight.

It's hard to quibble with that, until you get to the part where they say that Christians should "nurture expressions, forms, and institutions" capable of these things.  Those are subjective things because the Declaration does not give an objective and Scriptural criteria to define what is beautiful.  Declaring that I should nurture expressions, forms, and institutions because they meet the writers' definition of what is beautiful subtly shifts the emphasis from what is objectively beautiful to what the writers see as objectively beautiful.  

Let's be honest for a moment here.  The writers have a very clear idea in their mind of what is and is not beautiful.  I am sure they they would argue that rap music is not beautiful.  I'm fairly sure that they would argue that modern art and cinema is not beautiful...they even say that things that appeal to the "visceral appetites" are bad.  But how do they make those judgments?  They won't say, and they haven't said when they have interacted with us on SharperIron. Instead, we get tied up in circles arguing about culture and beauty...essentially, whether they are allowed to dictate the terms of the argument or not.  If you reject their definitions or presuppositions, you're in sin.  And that, ultimately, is my biggest beef with them.  They can argue all day long for objective beauty, goodness, and these sorts of things, but I don't see Biblical warrant for making disagreement with them a sin issue.  If I am in sin because I disagree with them, then I need them to explain why from the Bible so I can repent and turn from it.  

We believe in the perspicuity of Scripture.  If so, then act like we believe it and define these things from the Bible, not from websites, articles, or books.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

DavidO's picture

Yes, Phil. 4:8 tells us to think on things that are lovely, excellent, or full of praise. It does not, however, give me a criteria to define those things.

 

We believe in the perspicuity of Scripture. If so, then act like we believe it and define these things from the Bible, not from websites, articles, or books.

 

Care to reconcile your assertion with your request?

Jay's picture

I get your point, but I don't think it's the same, because I'm not the one with a whole ministry based on telling people what is and is not acceptable to God, and I'm not saying that people are in sin when they do or utilize ______________.  As a matter of fact, I increasingly think that using the Bible to defend or condemn a particular style of art (whether due to rhythm, lifestyle of the artist/performer, or what have you) is a waste of time.  I've laid out principles for judging music's value on SharperIron, but I've been careful to note the underlying Scriptural principles for why I do and don't do certain things.  But even that is limited in scope only to music, not performing art or visual arts (paintings).

Here's my point, though - If the guys want to call the use of certain types of music or art sin, then they're going to need to trace their arguments back to where we are disobedient to the Bible, and those principles have to be clearly obvious from Scripture and they have to be able to be used universally.  So you can't argue that something was valid in the 20th century and then condemn it in the 21st because it would be a violation of a clear Scriptural standard and that would be contradictory.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Nick's picture

I for one make a distinction between physical/form beauty and spiritual beauty.  God is beautiful, but He has no physical attributes.  Christ is beautiful, but not physically (Isaiah 53:2).  I believe it is a sin to not pursue spiritual beauty, which beauty is in my estimation equivalent to holiness.  Holiness is intrinsically beautiful and the objective standard of spiritual beauty.

I am willing to grant that the Old Testament sometimes uses the physically beautiful (according to the standards of their time and culture) as a symbol of spiritual beauty, just as it uses physical uncleanliness as a symbol of spiritual uncleanliness.  Yet I do not believe the two are equivalent, or that we, in the New Testament era, are supposed to think of the two the same way.

So my problem with statements like "beauty objectively exists" and "beauty is a reflection of God's glory" is that they equivocate between spiritual and physical beauty.  I am not convinced physical beauty objectively exists, and besides, it can point to God only by analogy -- God does not have physical qualitities.  Spiritual beauty does exist objectively and it is an attribute of God.  Phil 4:8 is talking about spiritual attributes, none of which apply inherently to physical forms of art, but only in so far as those physical forms of art mean something in a given cultural context.

If you believe physical/form beauty objectively exists and that it is a sin to not pursue physical form/beauty, I am curious how you apply that idea to humans.  It is obvious that physical beauty applies to human beings -- that a man finds certain types of physical features in a woman beautiful according to his own tastes (subjectively).  However, if there is an objective standard for physical/form beauty we are to pursue, and if we are in sin if we do not pursue it, how does that work with a man pursuing a wife?  I know what the biblical standards are for a man looking for a wife and none of them ever focus on physical beauty.

 

Joel Shaffer's picture

How would Francis Schaeffer responded to "a Conservative Christian Declaration?"

“One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary.”  (The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century)  

 

DavidO's picture

Jay, we've hashed this about more than once.  My recollection is that your standards for music are related (almost?) entirely to the words.  Which are not music.  But I'll go back and check my memory.  

As far as RAM goes, if you read them regularly, you might notice that they spend surprisingly little time assessing this song or that style to determine if they belong in the accept or reject bucket.  Much discussion about principles and ministry philosophy, though.

EDIT:  Jay, I'd love to resume our email conversation on "Slow Burn".  Especially having fairly recently been supplied by Dr. Al Mohler with the category of Therepeutic Deistic Moralism. 

Nick, 

Is physical beauty simply a matter of taste, or is there overwhelming consistency between humans about what the basic standards of physical beauty are?

Nick's picture

DavidO wrote:

Nick, 

Is physical beauty simply a matter of taste, or is there overwhelming consistency between humans about what the basic standards of physical beauty are?

Taste for the most part with perhaps a few exceptions.  And even for those exceptions I would not make some eternal/objective Platonic point about them, but rather I would say that's the way we (as humans) are made by God.  Universal tastes are not necessarily an indication of an objective eternal standard coming down from God, let alone a moral one.

At any rate, let me ask you a question.  If you see a fellow that married a woman you think is ugly, and that you would guess the majority of people will also think of as ugly (following your own argument from the majority to a "standard"), is his wife really objectively ugly, or just ugly to you?  More importantly, what does that mean for the guy -- did he somehow sin in marrying her?

RickyHorton's picture

DavidO wrote:

As far as RAM goes, if you read them regularly, you might notice that they spend surprisingly little time assessing this song or that style to determine if they belong in the accept or reject bucket.  Much discussion about principles and ministry philosophy, though.

Or is it that they don't have a valid means of assessing a song or style and therefore cannot determine if a song belongs in the accept or reject bucket without admitting that it boils down to preference?  They can talk about principles and philosophy all they like but if they can't apply Scriptural principles to a specific musical score then they really have only opinion. 

DavidO's picture

Yah, Ricky, it's a howler of a shell game they've got over there, but don't tell anyone!

Nick, to your example, are you asking me my opinion?  You've already told me it's merely a matter of taste.  Not sure there's much point, but I'll play along (pointing to an interesting article here, from whence I draw the following.)

In De Veritate Religione, Augustine asks explicitly whether things are beautiful because they give delight, or whether they give delight because they are beautiful; he emphatically opts for the second.

So, based on what you already expect is my opinion (which is what philosophy has pretty much agreed upon up until the last 200 years or so [ibid.]) I can propose the following.

1.  The woman may well be a beautiful person.  People, of course, unlike paintings or trees, are more than just physical, and so the physical is not the only metric by which we judge.  It would be no surprise to me if, after I got to know this woman, I would consider her beautiful as a whole.

2.  This same woman may possess physical qualities/features that humans are hard-wired to find as displeasing.  This, like any physical defect, (and, listen, ask anyone who saw me at my 25th high school reunion--I have, or have grown into, plenty of physical defects, so I'm not looking down here!) could be easily considered results inhereited from the fall, and not something the person is held responsible for.

3.  The woman's husband would not be culpable for any kind of sin (duh?) since we all, to one extent or another, bear physical affects from the fall.  This is just one of the aspects of the fall we hope to be saved from.

4.  I don't see anything in the Declaration above that necessitates a man or woman only pursue mates that match a certain level of "objective beauty".  We are talking about the project of creating worship art.  Your "test" is not apples to apples.

 

 

Nick's picture

DavidO wrote:

4.  I don't see anything in the Declaration above that necessitates a man or woman only pursue mates that match a certain level of "objective beauty".  We are talking about the project of creating worship art.  Your "test" is not apples to apples.

Let me get this straight.  According to you physical beauty reflects the glory of God, and to quote Aaron (who is simply saying many of the arguments I heard at RAM) "to the degree we do not love the beautiful... we fall short of the glory of God", but all of that only applies in a congregational worship service?  Outside a congregational worship service we don't have objective standards of physical beauty we need to pursue. Really?  I like the dichotomy -- it is quite helpful in imposing legalistic standards when one cannot realistically apply them to the whole of the Christian life.  All tied up with a nice touch of appeal to the authority man's philosophy instead of Scripture....  Sight.

DavidO's picture

You're going to tell me the fall did not mar physical creation?  You're going to make the case that each individual is responsible for the ways in which their body's defects diminish the extent to which they reflect God's glory has he originally intended his creation to reflect?

I have made both poems and children.  But I am responsible for the incarnation of my poems in a way that I am not responsible for the physical dimensions and proportions of my children.  So, call dichotomy if you wish, but there's a difference there.  It need not result in the tired charge of legalism.

And I won't ask you to hold Aaron responsible for my statments if you won't hold me responsible for his.  :)  I would nuance what he says to say that our regard (which includes love) for something must be commensurate with God's regard for that same thing.  We love people (made in God's image) in a different way than we love squirrels (not made in God's image).  You're almost reducing our argument to the point at which it is no longer the same argument.  While that probably makes it easier to defeat, it doesn't further mutual understanding.

 

Nick's picture

DavidO wrote:

You're going to make the case that each individual is responsible for the ways in which their body's defects diminish the extent to which they reflect God's glory has he originally intended his creation to reflect?

That's precisely what I do not believe, a reductio ad absurdum.  I never mentioned at any time any defects.  There are women without any physical defect I may find physically ugly, but those are only my tastes and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fall.  I do not believe physical beauty in a human body reflects God's glory.  God's glory is not physical, unless you believe in the heterodox idea that God has a body.  I do not believe a given "beautiful" human body reflects God's glory more than an "ugly" one.  The idea reminds me of the racism of old.

DavidO's picture

Do the heavens, which are physical, reflect God's glory?

Do trees reflect God's glory?

How about whales, butterflies, or crocodiles?

 

Nick's picture

DavidO wrote:

Do the heavens, which are physical, reflect God's glory?

God created everything for His glory, and everything at the end of the day brings Him glory, including the dark rainy sky in a flooded area, the bright sky with the scorching sun at the desert, the stormy sky under a hurricane, and the sunny sky at the beach.  Not everything is physically "beautiful" to my tastes, but I can definitely see in which way it reflects His glory (not in a physical way, but by analogy to one of God's spiritual attributes).

Jay's picture

DavidO wrote:

Do the heavens, which are physical, reflect God's glory?

Do trees reflect God's glory?

How about whales, butterflies, or crocodiles?

Does God say that some specific trees, whales, butterflies, or crocodiles​ reflect his glory more than other trees, whales, butterflies, or crocodiles​?  Are you arguing that some specific trees, whales, butterflies, or crocodiles​ reflect his glory more than others? 

Wink

I think I get your point.  God created all of those things, and they reflect his glory in different ways.  God created man to do the same, but man sinned and was deformed.  That doesn't mean, though, that some forms of man's creation are acceptable to God and others are not.  The destructive power of sin ruins all of our abilities.  

Someone said that I wasn't factoring in the effect of the fall on creation in an different music thread.  On the contrary, I think that guys like those at RAM don't take it seriously enough.  They argue for the acceptability of certain artistic styles (and I'm trying to discuss broader than music) on the basis that those styles are superior because they reflect God's 'truth, goodness, and beauty'.  But they don't have any legitimate (as far as I understand what they are saying) Scriptural means to argue which ones do so.  Classical music makes sense as a logical step because it is 'beautiful' aesthetically.  That doesn't make it acceptable to God because we are judging these things by their human standard of beauty.  It's a circular loop.

Someone here mentioned a believer who was exposed some form of classical music via Satanism's black mass (I don't remember the specifics, or I'd link to it). If what RAM is saying is true, then that music he heard is still acceptable to God even though the circumstances dictate otherwise.  Is that really the position you want to take? That's why Nick and I are making a big deal about the 'plumbline' that these men want to use to determine the 'worthiness' of styles.

BTW, I don't read much of RAM.  I've tried.  I have one of Aniol's books on my Kindle app, although I don't remember which one (it's the white cover with the sound dial).  Every time I have tried to read his book, or the other works that are posted at RAM with the exception of Dr. Bauder's Nick articles, I find that I walk away with more questions and confusion on this topic.  That being said, I did see that he has a proof of By the Rivers of Babylon: Worship in a Post-modern Culture on Twitter the other day, and that book does sound interesting, so I would like to give it a try when it is released.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

DavidO's picture

I don't hesitate to agree with you that the fall taints all creative works, period. 

RickyHorton's picture

DavidO wrote:

Yah, Ricky, it's a howler of a shell game they've got over there, but don't tell anyone!

That's about what RAM does as well...simply dismiss it with a wave of the hand.  However, at some point, you have to get down to application of principles and that's where they generally start making logical leaps.  For example, the discussion on beauty perfectly illustrates this.  Music used in worship must reflect God's beauty (here comes the logical leap) and my hymn is beautiful while your music is not.  The application of beauty to music is subjective yet they treat it as if there are set rules which define their type of music.  When you ask them to apply that to a specific piece of music, they simply can't.  Don't misunderstand me though....I have no doubt that they have the best of intentions but their application is faulty.

DavidO's picture

 at some point, you have to get down to application of principles and that's where they generally start making logical leaps.

And I do.  In my local church as we discuss these matters as covenanted brothers, sisters, and elders.  But, with a few examples, RAM seeks to discuss pertinent principles while allowing local churches who find them helpful to use them in their own application.

You're not giving them enough credit for filling in where you say they leap.  They discuss aesthetic principles or point to where those ideas can be interacted with.  (as I did to the Stanford article above).  If you want proof texts in favor of Watts and in rejection of Cosper, no, you won't find them.

you ask them to apply that to a specific piece of music, they simply can't.

Except I've seen it done there.  Not that everyone there agrees every time.  But they aren't after agreement in application as much as reaching agreement on principles.

 

Jay's picture

The book is now on sale in Kindle format for $1.99.  

I also noticed that there is a Conservative Christian Network that people can join, if they are so inclined.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

RickyHorton's picture

DavidO wrote:

Except I've seen it done there.  Not that everyone there agrees every time.  But they aren't after agreement in application as much as reaching agreement on principles.

I've read where they talk about entire genres or styles but haven't run across any where they were able to get down to a specific piece of music.  Take the conversation about rap they did with Shai Linne, for example.  Even though the entire series was on rap, Dr. Aniol did not attempt to take one of Shai Linne's songs and show how the music itself was immoral (Shai asked for this).  I agree with much of what they say about worship, but their application fails when it comes to music.  Getting more back on point though, like Jay says above I am trying to understand the need for this book as well.  It seems like the emphasis of the book (conservative) runs astray from what Scripture emphasizes.  However, I should probably read the book before I draw too many conclusions based on the title and short excerpts from the pdf linked above.

Jay's picture

I just posted this to the free ebooks thread, but David de Bruyn's work "Building Conservative Churches" is free on Kindle.  I figured I'd mention it here since he's involved with RAM.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Tim Emslie's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Recommend everybody do more reading on the subject.

Of course beauty objectively exists, just as truth does. God created them and expects us to recognize them for what they are and pursue them, and love what He loves and hate what He hates. Further, beauty is a reflection of God's glory. It shows us something of His character. To the degree we do not love the beautiful and good, we continue to fall short of the glory of God. In other words, we sin.

I think the book is not likely to be all that helpful though, because for the most part, the group does not know how to talk to the people who need most what they have to say. I understand the difficulty. There are so few common denominators/shared beliefs anymore to reason from on these matters. And nobody studies history much anymore. But at the very least, a lot of patience and humility is required. (Some days I might have one or the other, but not usually enough of both... and the whole effort seems pretty hopeless to me, so I guess a whole of optimism is required as well!)

 

Very interesting observation Aaron- You're right, one could toss out hyperlinks like grenades to quotes like this:" Those affections that are truly holy, are primarily founded on the loveliness of the moral excellency of divine things. Or (to express it otherwise) a love to divine things for the beauty and sweetness of their moral excellency is the first beginning and spring of all holy affections." ( http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/religaffect/rapt3sec03.html ), but the ensuing discussion would be nothing but talking past each other due to uncommon denominators. I have a pet theory- tell me what you think. There needs to be a fundamental disposition of willingness to listen to ideas from the past (which I would hold distinct from simple nostalgia). And that needed disposition takes an everyday beating from the physical realities of modern life, even in the absence of an overt attack on ideas from the past. Example: casual mention about how we used to cope with previous technology-phone, cell phone, TV, computer, medicine, etc.-  will draw a chuckle and a head shake from any polite listener. Could thinking about that tide be a common denominator? (throat clear..Ken Meyers... throat clear)

Ron Bean's picture

Historically, Christians have committed themselves to perpetuating biblical Christianity by pursuing absolute truth, goodness, and beauty.

It's been a long time since I took Church History in seminary, but I would like to be reminded of when Christians started perpetuating biblical Christianity by pursuing............. beauty. Examples would be helpful. 

Secondly, beauty is subjective.

Finally, is this something like "worshipping the Lord in the holiness of beauty"?

 

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

DavidO's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
Secondly, beauty is subjective.

See Jay's note above about defining your aesthetic theory only from the Bible.   Don't make me pull out the L-word here.