Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coherent or Incoherent Imagination, Depending

First, a little office cleaning.  I'll be continuing my unpopular series on the ark narrative.  Doing doctrinal or exegetical pieces like that indicates that controversy does in fact sell.  Notice the feeding frenzy on the Petraeus story now that the affair is involved.  This is not say, however, that I write controversy for audience.    I don't, or else I'd never write things like the ark narrative.  I'm just stating the fact that I have less readership when I write those.  And then we will be getting up the audio of this year's Word of Truth Conference that finished on Sunday.  It was a good conference with good sessions.  We have some on video right now at youtube.


There is one God and He is one.  The one God is true, good, and beautiful.  God is right in doctrine, practice, and aesthetics.  An imagination that reflects who God is, a theocentric one, will recognize and accede, therefore, to what is true and good and beautiful.

Since God is one, you cannot separate any one attribute or quality of God from another.  A particular imagination might be nourished or developed in the beauty of God, as testified by the aesthetics of that person.  He loves the beautiful---beautiful art, beautiful music, and beautiful literature.  That same person, however, does not manifest the same love for the true and the good.

Whatever God says is good is indeed good.  A dress standard taught by God in His Word is good.  If you reject modesty in dress, for instance, and yet profess to embrace beauty, you possess an incoherent imagination.  Your view of God's beauty could not be coming from a moral imagination when that view contradicts God's goodness.  A right view of God, a moral imagination, a Biblical worldview, a theocentric one, is coherent.  You cannot separate God's goodness from his beauty.

You can read men online who are critics of an evangelical and fundamentalist imagination of beauty.  They see an impoverished imagination almost indifferent to a theocentric aesthetic, as witnessed by deficient art, music, and literature.   There aren't many of these critics.   Most don't understand or care.  And yet of these critics, some of the most ornery don't do good.  They are hyper about beauty and dismissive about good.

Beauty is objective, that is, real beauty is found in the object, not just in the perception of it from the point of view of the subject.  It is beautiful in itself.  The same is found in goodness.

When someone forsakes goodness and truth, he forsakes beauty.  If someone abandons one, he does the others too.  God is one.  Since He is one, His truth, goodness, and beauty are coherent.  An imagination that deserts one for the others, in fact renounces them all.  His world view is incoherent.  It can't be coming from God.  In a sense, it only borrows from a theocentric imagination for one aspect of morality.

If you hear someone tout beauty and deny goodness, he can't be believed or trusted.


d4v34x said...

More of the "all or nothing".

How do you know "these critics" don't do good?

If you're talking about uncomfortable interactions with commenters, then some of your comrades here at WIT don't do good. Ergo, by your reasoning, cannot be believed or trusted.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi D4,

In his savage attack and intensely mocking post on my modesty essay, he wrote against objective modesty. In his presentation, which is all we can judge, he opposed objective modesty and made it only a matter of the conscience (which also shows a misunderstanding of the conscience, and I'll talk about that more in an upcoming post at some time). He also ridiculed me for seeing that as somehow the major problem at Maranatha, that excluding what he thought was bad or worse about MBBC made what I wrote to be worthless. He obviously also was telling massive untruths about me, and when corrected, he would not defer to that. You saw that. He could care less if he let lies and falsehoods and errors on the table for all to view.

Regarding the way he talks, that is a way of life for him, which is different than what some will use here. They and I answered him according to the very style he uses, which Proverbs mentions and Jesus uses. However, I don't use that as a non-stop habit. And that does relate to goodness.

On top of that, he himself has been a member of a church with doctrine and worship he doesn't even believe, by his own profession.

However, all that being aid, my first paragraph is what this is about, and it was the point I was making to him when I answered him in the comment section. You can't have it both ways. You can't criticize the aesthetics, the beauty, and then leave the goodness alone, because God is one. But He (nor you obviously) could catch that. By the way, you allowed him to get away with what he was doing and didn't step in like you do so many times here for others. We can talk sometime about how that makes you look.

d4v34x said...

He doesn't leave goodness alone. He made it clear where he thought the root of the shorts problem was. At least it seemed clear to me.

I probably look about as well as I behave. Sort of hard to hide that stuff.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Yes, the modesty problem was a subjective problem in their perception. But modesty isn't perceived. He's making it a perception, which is essentially nominalism. It is convenient for him to make modesty a perceived modesty, instead of an objective modesty, but he wants beauty to be objective. I agree with objective beauty, but also objective modesty. Sure, if modesty were a subjective issue, which is what men want it to be, because of their rebellion, I would agree with that. But why would he savage me for wanting objective modesty, and how would that be a problem? He made it a problem. I guess you can't see that, which is curious to me.

You didn't deal with some of the other things I wrote. Am I wrong on those?

And I didn't say he left goodness alone. That wasn't my point. He mocked what I was writing about goodness, which was objective goodness. And that's why I said, you can't have it both ways. I'm guessing you aren't going to agree here, although I don't see why not. You don't give a good reason why not.

Dave Barnhart said...

Actually, your series on the ark is quite interesting. However, you do sometimes take a few posts to develop your arguments, and you are just now getting to the interesting (at least for me) part.

Most of your readers (me included) already accept that what God tells us, we should do, though we would sometimes disagree with you in the application. You are just now getting to how we determine what is acceptable to God in worship, starting with the idea of objective beauty. That is where the crux of this argument is, because if we don't know what God wants in worship, it's hard to give it to him.

So I assume you are going to get around to showing why things that are used in worship in many modern churches are unacceptable to God and how we know that. I figure you will generate controversy (and comment) enough once you get to that.

Joshua said...

Just finished up my final foray into that cesspit. Definitely learned some things, including that I agreed with him more than I'd previously realized. Nevertheless:

You've hit the nail on the head in regards to goodness and beauty. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was providing him with meat for his pleasure... which is vicious scoffing - a remarkably ugly trait in a man, yet clearly something honed to a fine art over his 7 years of blogging.

By binning goodness, he's having a great time defending beauty in the ugliest way possible.

The rejection of goodness also goes a long way to explaining Dave's selective defense - I remember thinking, when I first read Norm's blog about 3 years ago, that "If I ever post anything to correct this man, he is going to absolutely rip into me with everything in his considerable sarcastic armoury... better tread carefully here".

I'm a trifle ashamed to admit it, but that threat was quite effective at muffling me for a while, and I let a lot slide by.

By way of encouragement and personal testimony Dave, I can tell you it'll be a wonderfully liberating day for you when you finally pipe up and taste the fury!