I once wrote a 25-page doctoral research paper in which I defended the idea that there is a normative, objective standards of beauty just as there is a normative, objective standard of truth. Unfortunately (though some might say fortunately), that tome seems to have been lost to the great hard drive crash circa 2005.
I’ve also written on beauty here several times in the past (like this and this). The point of these writings was to make the case that beauty is an objective reality that is based in the nature and character of God.
In that vein, I came across an interview with a pastor named Brian Zahnd in which the subject was addressed in a really thoughtful, helpful way:
I talk about beauty being an interpretive lens for Christianity. The Greek philosophers spoke of the prime virtues of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Later, the church fathers identified these with attributes of God. But during late modernity, these prime virtues have been under pressure—modern man is skeptical about absolute claims pertaining to truth, goodness, and beauty.
In defending truth, the church has created Christian apologetics, and in defending the good, the church has created Christian ethics. But by and large, we have ignored the virtue of beauty, relegating it to the demoted status of mere adornment. Yet the recovery of beauty as a way of interpreting and expressing the Christian faith may be just what we need at this time.
Along with Christian apologetics and ethics, we need some Christian aesthetics. In a culture that is suspicious of our truth claims and less than impressed with our claim to a superior ethic, beauty may be a fresh way to communicate our message. Beauty has a way of sneaking past defenses.
I know very little about Brian Zahnd, but I really like what he says here about the need for the Church to become champions of beauty.