The Logos of Beauty by Steve Baarendse

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The Logos of Beauty

Steve Baarendse on the Eyes of the Heart & the Glory of God

What is the end, the telos, of beauty, imagination, and creativity? Some have said that beauty is its own end; in the arts, this was called "art for art's sake." You can see it recited as catechism in John Keats's famous epigram about the Grecian urn: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—That is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

But the Christian knows that this Romantic creed is only a tragic half-truth. Even artistic beauty is not big enough to be its own end; and art, severed from its transcendent source, is powerless to save. Keats died appealing to the beauty of poetry, but coughing up blood. He did not acknowledge the One to whom beauty points, who bled and died for sinners, the One who alone has the power over death.

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Steve Baarendse is an Associate Professor of English and Humanities at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. He and his wife Sara have three children and worship at Lexington Presbyterian Church (PCA).

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18.4—May 2005

Of Weeds & Fairy Tales

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