Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder with Brian Chan

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At a Glance
Truth, goodness, and beauty are the hallmarks of the Kingdom of God, but sadly we often overlook the “beauty.” We all see a crystal clear river and say it is beautiful. We see another stagnate with debris and trash and say it is polluted and ugly. Why do we share this universal understanding of beauty? Where does this shared understanding come from? There is an intrinsic answer here that points straight back to our Creator. Today we are joined by artist, entrepreneur, professor, author, speaker, and pastor Brian S. Chan. Brian received a DMin in Christian Philosophy from Talbot, where he did his dissertation on philosophy in films, and a ThM in Historical Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he wrote his thesis on the beauty of God and art in worship. Since then, he has never looked back as he continues to share and deepen his understanding of beauty and the Kingdom. During our discussion, we asked is beauty objective, where does it come from, why do humans pursue ugliness, when did the church have a vision for beauty, and what does a theology of beauty look like? Last, we get practical and ask how can each of us apply this concept into our daily lives.
What You'll Hear
  1. Introduction (1:27)
  2. In order to understand reality, you need to understand beauty (7:42)
  3. Why God is beauty (15:14)
  4. Is beauty in the eyes of the beholder? (25:02)
  5. Why do humans enjoy ugliness and choose that over beauty? (29:26)
  6. When did the church lose its place as the epicenter of the arts? (42:51)
  7. Are Christians recovering a theology of beauty and the arts? (50:13)
  8. How do artists develop a theology of art? (53:02)
  9. How do we find our vocation? (58:41)
  10. Conclusion and how to apply beauty into our daily lives (1:07:08)

Dr. Brian S. Chan is an artist specializing in multiple mediums, an entrepreneur, pastor, author, speaker, professor, and most importantly a husband, father, and child of God. He earned his Pd.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary on the theology of beauty. He is currently transitioning from 17 years of teaching at Biola to head back to DTS as the assistant professor of Media Arts and Worship.

Using the link above, you can read the transcript, listen along, and adjust the speed of the podcast while you listen.

"What is the goal of beauty? It's to fulfill the first and greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." Our greatest love steers everything else in our lives.

Brian Chan (1:11:06)

Go Deeper

The Purple Curtain

What’s beautiful? Beauty sells. From today’s vantage point beauty is defined by personal tastes and popular opinions. But in God’s eyes, what is true beauty? If the Bible could define what beauty is, what would the outcome be? In The Purple Curtain, pastor Brian Chan examines beauty from a biblical perspective and how it affects our relationship with God. Chan contends that understanding true beauty can change broken people as they discover more of God’s loveliness and-in turn-grow to love Him more. He explores cultural ideas about beauty from historical and contemporary philosophers, artists, writers, films, art, and stories. Readers will learn how they can recognize authentic beauty daily and will be challenged to make beauty out of brokenness as they grow in God’s love and as witnesses of Christ.

A Call for Balladeers: Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations

Through a biblical lens, Darrow Miller examines what it means to be a Christian artist and the role of beauty in the world. As the First Artist, God created the universe to be beautiful, and set a precedent for all mankind: to create art, not for religious obligation, but simply for the sake of beauty itself.

With scrutiny and honesty, A Call for Balladeers takes a hard look at the faulty perspective toward art and beauty held by many Christians today and uses the Bible to make a case for why the Church should be concerned with the arts. Miller provides a hopeful, liberating outlook for Christians who find themselves caught in a dilemma between their artistic endeavors and their desire to minister to their community.

Prior to writing his full-length book, Darrow wrote a paper that is available for free download: “Worldview and Art: A Call for Balladeers.”

“Where does the impulse for human creativity come from? What are the implications of this impulse for Christians who have a call to the arts, especially as it relates to the issue of culture and discipling a nation? Why is it that some people are born with music in their soul, dance in their legs, a poem on their lips, or hands longing for a canvas and brush or for the touch of clay? Where does human longing for beauty, goodness, and truth come from? Does my worldview provide a basis for art and music?”

In this paper, DNA co-founder Darrow Miller explores the answers different worldviews give, and he explains what the biblical worldview says in answer to these questions.

  • 13:58 So there’s both on the scientific level and on the aesthetic level paired together, Genesis one is just rich and brilliant. -Brian
    • And they’re paired together. But people for generations have struggled with the question. You have science on one hand, and art on the other. How do these come together? But in a biblical frame, where you have God the Creator that question really doesn’t exist. – Darrow
  • 50:55 I think, relevance is on one hand what we are trying to do and is appropriate. But relevance as an end goal is too weak. You know, trying to find theological relevance between art and the Scriptures is too weak. I think we need a theological framework for beauty and the arts. So that the theology and actually the inspiration for the arts is not that we’re just trying to figure out how did the arts relate back to Scripture, it’s that the scripture is the inspiration for the art. Brian
  • 1:04:24 The church was the epicenter that developed the arts and science. Brian
  • 1:11:06 “What is the goal of beauty? It’s to fulfill the first and greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Brian

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