Beauty and Idolatry
David, the Israelite king, chosen and inspired by God, wrote: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” Here you read the phrase, “behold the beauty of the LORD.” This is to say that the LORD is beautiful.
Since the LORD is beautiful, beauty is transcendent, that is, it relates to God. Beauty is objective, not in the eye of the beholder. “Numinous” means “having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity.” Theologian Rudolf Otto called the numinous the experience of beauty that propels its observers beyond sheer materialism or naturalism, and towards supernaturalism. He identified the numinous as a “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self."
The Christian worldview depends on transcendence and supernaturalism, because it starts with God. As an example, God is one, which necessitates oneness in His creation, that is, unity and harmony, which are qualities of objective beauty. One cannot relegate beauty to nothing more than pleasure and preference.
When it comes to aesthetics, the recognition of beauty, believers start with the nature of God and look to His creation. Acknowledgment of beauty associates with affections. Affections start with a right assessment in the imagination. When beauty becomes personal taste, someone cannot rightly imagine God. The imagination of God proceeds from His revelation of Himself through His creation and His Word. What we believe about beauty and our imagination of God come together. If not, we become idolatrous.