Towards a Theology of Aesthetics
A year or two ago I wrote an essay titled, “The Aesthetic Covenant”. Prior to any reading on covenant theology I had proposed that: a.God made a covenant with mankind in the garden (Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:16-17) b. Adam and Eve violated this covenant (Genesis 3:1-6), and yet c. The blessings and commandments (be fruitful and multiply, have dominion) of this covenant are still in effect (Genesis 3:23). Thus I proposed that an aspect of this covenant, which I now understand as the Covenant of Works, is aesthetic in nature. I argued that prior to the Fall, when Adam names the animals and writes a poem about Eve, he is being obedient to God’s commands. Similarly, after the fall, God’s curses are upon the commands—though the commands remain. Also, Adam renames Eve. Herman Bavinck summarizes this well,
The punishment is also a blessing…that the man will continue living, that he will not immediately fall prey to death, as he had deserved…With that expectation, the first man changed the name of his wife…humanity retains the task entrusted to it from the beginning of creation. (14, The Christian Family)
What logically follows a study of the Covenant of Works is the question of necessity: is it still necessary to obey these commands if Christ Jesus has perfectly obeyed them for us? He is our Covenant Representative, our Federal Head, after all, so why should we be expected to keep the demands given to our forefathers in the garden? But God plainly teaches us that though Christ has perfectly kept the demands of the Covenant of Works, we are still supposed to be obedient to God’s law (Romans 3:31) because it flows from His character. The law is not an arbitrary imposition upon us, but reveals the holiness, goodness, and wisdom of God. Because the hearts of God’s children are regenerated by the Spirit, we are given the desire to keep God’s commandments. For this reason we are urged to maintain our initial commands: be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth, and have dominion.
If we are mandated to work in a way that demands artisanship and aesthetic sensibility, then an important and necessary step for the theologian is to grasp what the Scriptures teach about the nature of aesthetics: ’what is aesthetics? why is there ‘aesthetic experience’? How should we make things?’ As such, it is my goal to study the writings of former theologians on this subject, as well as make my own study of the Scriptures. This blog, then, will be a catalogue of my research.