The Beauty of the Lord: Theology as Aesthetics

Bibliographic information:

King, Jonathan, The Beauty of the Lord: Theology as Aesthetics (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).



In The Beauty of the Lord, I begin by discussing four distinct approaches to theological aesthetics, laying the groundwork for the rest of my book. Theological aesthetics does not imply there is homogeneity in the kind of theological scholarship on aesthetics. On the contrary, the diversity of distinct theological approaches to the subject of aesthetics can only rightly be described as heterogeneous. Effectively there are four basic categories in terms of respective concerns and the ways theology applies and is integrated: (1) natural theology of beauty, (2) theology of the arts, (3) religious aesthetics, and (4) theological aesthetics. It is not my interest, however, to provide a comparative evaluation of these theologies of aesthetics, nor explicate any of them except the last one that I am describing as theological aesthetics.

Theological aesthetics is premised on the canon of Scripture being the norm that norms other norms over all matters pertaining to Christian doctrine and practice. Scripture’s authority as such holds preeminence in how we interpret theologically everything considered general/natural revelation as well as expressions of culture. By extension, biblical authority presides over the domain of aesthetics in its understanding of the whole of creation—the theatrum gloriae Dei, as John Calvin puts it. In general terms, theological aesthetics derives from biblical- and systematic-theological work concerning or pertaining to the aesthetic dimension as integral to and as apprehended throughout the canon of Scripture. The fruit of theological aesthetics for theology more broadly is its consequent interpretation and implications for doctrine and practice. In this work, theological aesthetics is directed primarily on the objective beauty of the person of Christ, the beauty of the work of Christ (redemption accomplished), and the beauty of Christ’s work ongoing through the Holy Spirit (redemption applied). The constructive development of this project involves a biblical-theological characterization of God’s beauty—notably in and through God the Son—as reflected economically in the phases of creation, redemption, and consummation.


Lexham Press (website:

Leave a Comment