Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cosmos

“The cosmos declares[1] the glory of God…”  

Nature is never spent. She daily manifests the truth, goodness and beauty that brought her into being. Every morning is a new and fresh declaration of God’s glory. Do I see Him through that beauty, or do I merely glance at beauty and shrug it off in indifference?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 18th century English poet and philosopher, observed two tourists looking at a magnificent waterfall. One said it was “pretty” the other said it was “sublime.” Coleridge thought the first response was silly, the second was exactly right, for sublime means “awe-inspiring,” and “worthy of worship.”

Worship is the only adequate response to beauty when we behold it, for creation’s glory is a reflection of the glory of God. “Glory” suggests an epiphany (a shining out or a manifestation) of God and is, or so I believe, the biblical word, for “beauty.” Theologian Herman Bavinek said as much: “For the beauty of the Lord, scripture has a special word: glory.”[2] God’s beauty is the penetrating light that shines out through all creation.

The word, “translucence” comes to mind. It suggests the capacity of all creation to take on something of God’s beauty and allow that beauty to “pass through” to our eyes. Our task, in turn is to grow eyes that look not merely at, but through the object to the beauty that lies beyond it and to think, “How beautiful must be He who made this beautiful thing?”

Thus, our response to beauty, when we behold it, should be worship, adoration, and thanksgiving—for the radiance of a corn flower, the splendor of a morning sunrise, the symmetry of one particular tree—for all nature declares the ineffable beauty of the One who made it.

C. S. Lewis was walking with a friend as they talked about worship and gratitude. Lewis wanted to know how to generate a thankful heart toward God, and asked, “Should we summon up all we know about God and his greatness?” His friend turned to a brook nearby (it was a very hot day) and splashed his face and hands in a little waterfall and said, “Why not begin with this?”[3] 

A little waterfall, the wind in the willows, a baby robin, a rosebud, the rose moles on a brook trout… Why not begin with this?

David Roper

[1] The Hebrew verb is a participle, suggesting a continuous action.
[2] Herman Bavinek, Reformed Dogmatics (Baker Books, 2004) pp. 252-254.
[3] C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

1 comment:

dorsetbaptist said...

David, do you think that William Blake's words speak to your thought here?

“This life's dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
The Everlasting Gospel (c. 1818)

Taste and See Breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,  and resign yourself to the influences of each.  —Henry David ...