Beauty Will Save the World

23 Apr

Okay, in teaching this morning (if you must see it: I ended up breathing out words from my latest read, Beauty Will Save the World by Brian Zahnd. Seven chapters that I pretty much took in one a day. Just marvelous. I thought about citing his book, but I had already cited three and was afraid it would start sounding like a commercial or worse an infomercial.

But if I had the time to take, this is the full quote I would have read. Definitely a worthwhile read. I luxuriated in it, which is why I only read a chapter a day. Soul-filling. Beautiful. Well done, Brian.

Here goes the excerpt:

“Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible.”~ Eugene Ionesco (French playwright)

What’s wrong is that we have precious little astonishment in our gospel. We’re familiar with it. It’s become old hat. It’s in danger of degenerating into cliché. It’s anything but astonishing. It has only the faux astonishment of a late night infomercial. For only $19.95! But wait, there’s more! Call now! Operators are standing by! We yawn and change the channel. I’m afraid that’s how our gospel is too often heard. But consider how the gospel sounded upon its first hearing in the first century. As the climax, the capstone of the story of Israel told in their ancient scriptures, a Galilean Jew named Jesus was executed by crucifixion by the Roman government for alleged crimes against the state; three days later God raised him from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the throne of God where he now holds all things together by the word of his power as the new emporer of the world. That’s the gospel! It’s not an explanation, it’s an astonishing announcement…

We have replaced astonishment with something a bit tamer. We have made the gospel reasonable, senisble and practical. We explain the gospel in cogent terms like ‘the plan of salvation’ and ‘spiritual laws’ – as if it is simply the most rational thing in the world. The gospel is no longer astonishing; it is now commonsense, logical, and most of all, ‘useful.’ We have no use for astonishment. Astonishment is not something we can use – it’s not something pragmatic that we can utilize to further our self-concocted and self-oriented agendas. So instead of announcing an astonishing gospel, we find ourselves trying to sell a useful gospel…

The gospel properly proclaimed and properly heard is a mystery evoking awe – not a prospectus eliciting calculation.

Christianity is not God-Mart. It is a cathedral of astonishment.

Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension – these are our soaring arches, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, and stained-glass windows. They are not practical; they are mysterious and beautiful.



Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Church, Doctrine & Heresies


Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “Beauty Will Save the World

  1. Kathy

    April 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Simply, thank you! I am amazed and redirected. My focus this week is to rest in His ravishing love, and live with the Chutzpah of pure awe, awareness, and in the fellowship of He who holds us all in his hand! Miraculous!

  2. wordhaver

    April 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    You’ve got it! Amen! Me too! 🙂

  3. Sheila

    April 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Oh how I am blessed by this perspective. So refreshing. Thanks so much!

  4. wordhaver

    April 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Amen! You are welcome!


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