Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Apologetics of Philippians 4:8 (as explained by a Current Orthodox Rebel)

The following is an excerpt (pp. 14-15) from Joseph Pearce's book  Literary Giants, Literary Catholics. Here Mr. Pearce explains the different kinds of Christian apologetics. Specifically, he focuses on the evangelizing power of Beauty.

Truth is trinitarian. It consist of the interconnected and mystically unified power of Reason, Love, and Beauty. As with the Trinity itself, the three, though truly distinct, are one. Reason, properly understood, is Beauty; Beauty, properly apprehended, is Reason; both are transcended by, and are expressions of, Love. And, of course, Reason, Love and Beauty are enshrined in, and are encapsulated by, the Godhead. Indeed, they have their raison d'etre [i.e., reason for being] and their consummation in the Godhead. Remove Love and Reason from the sphere of aesthetics and you remove Beauty also. You get ugliness instead. Even a cursory glance at most modern "art" will illustrate the negation of Beauty in most of today's "culture".

Once the theological understanding of the trinitarian nature of Truth is perceived, it follows that the whole science of apologetics can be seen in this light. Most mainstream apologetics can be seen as the apologetics of Reason: the defense of the Faith and the winning of converts through the means of a dialogue with the "rational" and its sundry manifestations. On the other hand, the lives of saints, such as the witness of Mother Teresa [or any missionary for that matter], can be seen as the apologetics of Love: the defense of the Faith and the winning of converts through the living example of a life lived in Love. Finally, the defense of the Faith and the winning of converts through the power of the beautiful can be called cultural apologetics or the apologetics of Beauty.

Throughout history, the Faith has been sustained by, and has built upon, each of these pillars. Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and other giants of the Church have laid the philosophical and theological foundations upon which Christendom has towered above superstition and heresy, creating an edifice of Reason in a world of error. Numerous other saints have lived lives of heroic virtue and self-sacrificial love, showing that there is a living, loving alternative to all the vice and hatred with which humanity has inflicted itself. Similarly, numerous writers, artists, architects and composers have created works of beauty as a reflection of their love for God--and, through the gift they have been given, God's love for them.

Mr. Pearce's final thought sums up my desire as well:

It is in the last of these three spheres of apologetics, the apologetics of Beauty, that I have found my own vocation, and it has become my aim, indeed my passion, to evangelize the culture through the power [i.e., elements and artifacts] of culture itself.