Concerning the Nature of Belief: Part 3


In my posts thus far I have argued two things primarily. In my first post, I argued that belief is on a spectrum that ranges from a mere knowledge of propositions to deeply rooted inclinations and desires. I argued that belief cannot be life changing unless it reaches our affections. Human beings are shaped not primarily by what they think, but what they desire. In my second post, I argued that our affections are seduced through worship. In worship, our hearts are enticed to accept what our heads always knew. Worship just pulls back the thin veneer of prosaic reality to reveal the true loveliness of the object of our worship, and our hearts are lured by that loveliness into belief. Another word for loveliness is beauty. Beauty controls our hearts because our hearts will only desire what it finds beautiful. Belief, therefore, is all about beauty. If we behold the beauty of something, then our affections will grab ahold of it in belief.

Beauty controls our hearts, because our hearts will only desire what it finds beautiful.

Now everyone has their two cents to say about beauty, but what I want to assert is that beauty has the power to consume our mind and heart, so much so, that it can actually change the way we view the world. In this sense, beauty actually creates worlds. Let me explain. Imagine a married man visiting a prostitute in the quite darkness of night. This man has been seduced by nothing less than beauty. The curves of her body in the perfect shadows of low light draw him in. The scents of vanilla and honey drift from her bedroom as candles light their way to entangled pleasure. He is enraptured by the way her hair falls down her bare back while she closes the door to commence their private tryst.

This illustration shows that beauty can be so incorrectly perceived that it turns ugliness into lying beauty. In this sad story, beauty was a trap that ensnared the man. It was a siren’s call, beckoning him closer and closer to his destruction. However, notice that the man was entranced by beauty, and beauty caused him to forget some things while believing others. The man was probably able to forget about all the damage that he would do to his wife and family, while believing that one night with this woman would satisfy him. This man was thrust, by beauty into a world in which his family didn’t exist, God didn’t exist, and only his desires mattered. In other words, this man began to live in a world that doesn’t exist. Beauty creates worlds, because our desires shape how we perceive the world, and our desires are caused by visions of beauty. This man allowed his heart to fall in love with a lie, and so he lived a lie.

Beauty caused him to forget some things while believing others.

You can do this thought experiment a hundred ways, but what really matters is that our desire for what we find beautiful shapes our perceived reality, and thus creates worlds. Now the problem is that God actually already created a world, and by the way, we actually live in his world. So we have to align our lives with his world, which includes his laws. But what would happen if we started to behold the beauty of the world that he created? If what I have argued thus far is correct, then the more we are entranced by the beauty of God’s world then the more our perception of this world will be in line with the world in which we actually live.

The only problem with this conclusion is that a pesky little thing called sin always ruins it for us. Sin has so captured our hearts that we live in a world almost entirely of our own creation. We take the beauty of God’s world and turn it into a god, and we can’t understand how beautiful this world is because our sinful hearts have already fallen in love with worlds that don’t exist. We need God’s interpretation of this world, so he gave us the Bible. We need people to spoon feed us this interpretation, so he gave us the church. We need to be free from the silly little worlds that we build for ourselves, so he gave us a world that is too good to believe, and asks us to believe. His world is better than we could have ever hoped or imagined.

We take the beauty of God’s world and turn it into a god, and we can’t understand how beautiful this world is because our sinful hearts have already fallen in love with worlds that don’t exist.

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