In the Orthodox tradition, aesthetics are valued as central to worship. This creates a climate of potential influence that is significantly different than that in the evangelical church. In the east, word exists in images. In the west, word is spoken. In the east, the central figures are priest and painter. In the west, the central figure is pastor as scholar. Protestant Christianity in this way is professorial.165 Aesthetics are often perceived as unimportant in evangelical contexts. “In some instances Western Christians even view beauty in a negative light, as something evil, soft, vulnerable, feminine, and fragile, rather than as something tough, disciplined, and rational. Beauty is sometimes considered a distraction…”.166 “In the West Christians typically regard aesthetics as having no importance for their Christian identity; aesthetics is, rather, a matter of private preference or peripheral concern.”

160 Ugolnik, 1989, p. 52.
161 Calian, 1968, p. 140.
162 Clendenin, 1994, p. 73.
163 Ibid, p. 72.
164 Clendenin [John of Damascus, Divine Images 1.17], 1994, p. 75.
165 Clendenin, 1994, p. 77. see reformation examples of Zwingli and Luther.
166 Ibid, p. 75.

There is “…little empathy for social aesthetic, much less a pastoral aesthetic (the idea that aesthetics can instruct us and urge us toward the good).”167 Ouspensky goes on to suggest that in the east the church depicts Christ in icons “…not as an ordinary man, but as the God-Man in His glory…”. This is in contrast to Western art, which depicts Christ “…simply as a man who suffers physically.”168

In the Orthodox Church, intuition and reflection is of more value than rational discourse. “Eastern theology originates in the sanctuary, Western theology in the scholar’s study or university library. The one employs candles, frescoes, mosaics, bells, icons, and incense, the other a word processor…In short, in the West theology takes the form of scientific wisdom; in the East it is sacramental worship.”169 “In the west, the theologian has instructed and even limited the artist, whereas in the East, the iconographer is a charismatic who contemplates the liturgical mysteries and instructs the theologian.”170