Reading an essay on a different subject today, I came across this quotation from Eastern Orthodox Franky Schaeffer:
Most contemporary American church buildings are symbolically ugly, accurately reflecting the taste of pastor and people alike… The profound ugliness of these churches is not hte result of budget priorities. These buildings are expensive; studied ugliness does not come cheap. Many of these church buildings seem to express the same sense of aesthetics as that of the living-room/kitchen set from the old “Dick Van Dyke Show.” They constitute an assault on the senses: a nightmare of red velvet and prefab ceiling “tile,” StainWare carpet in pastel shades from hell and the Easter Bunny, a Mt. Everest of canned sweet corn and lime Jell-O.
Now at first I just laughed. I thought it was hilarious, and I felt at least partially justified since I can play the “I used to be Protestant” card. Then I realized that it’s more sad than anything, in it’s accuracy. Growing up I sometimes wondered why our church was so ugly, and why every other church I’d been to was, too. Depressingly ugly.
Of course I don’t mean to offend. My question is, is the lack of aesthetic appeal in “low” Protestant churches intentional because of theological reasons? I know that in my former church, the Church of Christ, one could use the “silence of Scripture” argument. It would be sinful to adorn the church in ways not explicitly endorsed by the Bible. Is this true for other denominations? Is architecture and decor that is more than utilitarian a sin?