Friday, October 4, 2013

The Ineffability of God's Beauty

The book Eyes Wide Open, among other things, is a treatise on beauty. It concerns itself with many aspects of beauty including beauty's origins and essence. For author Steve DeWitt, the essence and origin of all things beautiful and beauty itself is God.

In discussing the beauty of creation-the vastness of the universe or the intricate design of a water crystal-DeWitt makes a clear assertion: "Creation is beautiful precisely because its Creator is beautiful" (15). That is, things are beautiful as they relate to God because "God defines beauty by His very essence. He is the source and standard of all beauty" (15).

However, God's beauty causes us some problems. And one of those problems is that beauty in general, and specifically God's beauty, is difficult to understand. God's beauty, like many things about Him, is ineffable. Ineffable is an appropriate term; it means beyond comprehension or inexpressible. The author continues, "A popular phrase captures the ineffability of God's beauty: It blows our minds. We cannot see God's beauty (God is spirit); we can not evaluate it (God transcends humanity's ability to critique); and we cannot comprehend it (God is infinite, we are not)" (16).

But despite beauty's mind stretching effect, we are still drawn to it, compelled to discover and apprehend it. This is seen nowhere more profoundly than in our searching and longing (whether we recognize it or not) for God:
We seek out these expressions of beauty because what we can see and comprehend draws us to wonders too awesome not too enjoy. Their ineffability is entwined with their desirability. What I cannot see is mysteriously interesting to me and compels me to look all the more. The same is true of God's beauty and attributes.He is more than we can know and beyond our capacity to absorb. Our finitude limits our comprehension, but what we can see and understand draws us to wonder-which is the prelude to worship.

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