The Barnacles of Devotion

Sharing Options

We have noted that simplicity is an aesthetic value, and should not be regarded simply as a theological value. Too many times believers assume that if one’s good, then two’s better, and over the centuries the worship of God gets progressively encrusted with the barnacles of devotion.

But it is not enough simply to develop an aesthetic sense in the abstract and then go build a building that is like that. This is because the sanctuary itself, once built, will have a didactic role. Once we have a church building, and we have a generation of children who grew up worshiping God in that building, we will discover that their aesthetic sense has been trained by their surroundings.

The reason this is sometimes obscured is because of other factors. If you have an elegantly simple church structure, but the children growing up in it are surrounded by doctrinal and moral hypocrisies, those of them that still retain any genuine faith are going to want to get away from “all of that” as fast as they possibly can. Suppose the building is just right, but their father is given over to outbursts of anger. Suppose the building is just what it ought to be, but there is a financial scandal with the church leadership. Suppose the architect wins an award for the design, but the next generation grows up with snooty music instead of robust congregational music. In such cases, what happened is that a beautiful edifice was built in order that we might have something to chase genuine Christians away from. Call it an edifice complex.

If we are to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, as we are summoned by Scripture to do, then it is true that we must strive for the beauty. But at the same time, we must never neglect the holiness and holiness is as much a reality on Tuesday as it is on the Lord’s Day.

So let the stones cry out.

Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 years ago

“Call it an edifice complex”

From now on, I will :)