Belden Lane’s Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality (Oxford 2011) is a lovely book. It is a book that uncovers beautiful dimensions to the Reformed tradition. It is accessible, winsome, personal and inviting. Lane does a particularly good job of summarizing some often overlooked and valuable aspects of the Reformed tradition. He dispels many stereotypes about this tradition, especially in its Puritan manifestations. This is a book that I might well use in class to introduce students to the discipline of theological aesthetics in a Reformed context.
If I were to use it in class, however, I would have to point out that this is also a fundamentally incoherent book. Lane is trying simultaneously to embrace and to reject the Reformed tradition, which creates problems for him throughout. He freely admits to being “at best, a reluctant Calvinist” [p.57] who is “repulsed” by doctrines of divine wrath and predestination [p.207]. This does not invalidate the book, but it does mean that readers need to be attentive.