Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Scripture References in this Resource
Romans 12:2; Romans 8:29;
WHALEY, ANDREW D. “THE ECLISPE OF ELEGANCE: TOWARDS ACONTEMPORARY LUTHERAN AESTHETICS OF DISCIPLESHIP.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2018. 214 pp.
It is no secret that, from the time of the Reformation Iconoclast controversy through the period of Pietism, and even into the twentieth century, aesthetics has had a troublesome existence in many, if not most, protestant denominations. This, of course, includes my own denomination, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In such cases, aesthetics has unfortunately been forgotten, ignored, or viewed with such deep suspicion that its place in theology has been outright denied. The result is that the aesthetic aspect of human life has been reduced to mere addendum. This, of course, has had a negative impact on discovering, experiencing, and expressing a holistic fully-embodied and fully-embedded Christian discipleship as it takes place in the midst of everyday life.
The aim of this project is to illustrate how aesthetics are actually essential to what it means to be fully human, and therefore to everyday discipleship. To this end, the research question is as follows: working with and within a contemporary Lutheran framework can we appropriate anon-foundational philosophy of art, such as that put forward by Susanne K. Langer, to point us toward the development of a theology of aesthetics for Christian discipleship that argues for the essential role of aesthetics in shaping lives that are more holistic, creative, and communal in the midst of a world that is increasingly fragmented, utilitarian, and individualistic?
The research question is answered through an ad hoc correlational approach to the interdisciplinary dialogue between a contemporary Lutheran theological frame and a non-foundational philosophy of art. By way of engaging music (more specifically jazz) as an artistic form of vital import, this project argues that this interdisciplinary dialogue reveals that aesthetics are indeed essential to everyday discipleship, and therefore, should not be dichotomized and compartmentalized out from the theological attention given to ethics, and doctrine. Thus, aesthetics is not to be treated as mere addendum to the Christian disciples’ life but as essential to ongoing spiritual formation.
On this basis, it is recommended that our seminaries, universities, and local congregations, move to engaging more intentionally and creatively aesthetics (and therefore different mediums of art) as a vital part of their ongoing educational and discipleship formation. Further research could be undertaken to identify other artistic mediums (not just music) and the ways in which they are helpful in helping the disciple of Jesus Christ live each day more artistically and creatively.
Whaley, Andrew, "The Eclipse of Elegance: Towards a Contemporary Lutheran Aesthetics of Discipleship" (2018). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 63.
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