Earth’s participation in God’s beauty


Augustine in his Confessions writes,

It was you, then, O Lord, who made them, you who are beautiful, for they too are beautiful; you who are good, for they too are good; you who are, for they too are. But they are not beautiful and good as you are beautiful and good, nor do they have their being as you, their Creator, have your being. In comparison with you they have neither beauty nor goodness nor being at all.

Michael Haykin comments on Augustine’s observation,

There is a tension here. On the one hand, there is Augustineʼs desire to maintain a clear distinction between the beauty of God and the beauty of creation, a distinction that derives from the emphasis of the Bible on the otherness and uniqueness of God. On the other hand, his imbibing of Plato leads to the argument that what is beautiful in creation derives its beauty solely from its participation in ultimate Beauty.[1]

What makes something uniquely and universally beautiful? Why does it seem that of all the attributes of God, this one is relegated to subjectivity more than any other?

1. Haykin, Michael A. G. “Beauty as a Divine Attribute: Sources and Issues.” Churchman 116, no. 2 (2002): 130.

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