Lutheran CORE continues to provide monthly video reviews of books of interest and importance. Many thanks to Maurice Lee, NALC pastor and theologian, for doing a review of Mark Mattes’ book, Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal. Dr. Mattes is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Grand View University in Des Moines.
Dr. Lee begins by referring to Dr. Mattes’ “astonishingly prolific and insightful scholarship over many years.” He then goes on to mention how Luther would have come to a conclusion similar to that of the philosophical tradition — that truth, goodness, and beauty are closely interconnected — but only on the basis of his rigorously Christological perspective, in that we can rightly see truth, goodness, and beauty only in the light of Christ crucified and risen.
Luther and the Lutheran tradition did not remove music and the visual arts from the church. In fact, Luther’s praise for music was second only to his praise for the Word of God. This deep appreciation for beauty was in line with Luther’s understanding that God’s Word comes through earthly, physical, and bodily means. The finite is capable of bearing the infinite. The body and earthly things can be channels of grace when appropriated by the Word of God.
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