There are few things that demonstrate our philosophy better than architecture. Indeed, edifices stand as the (semi)permanent physical manifestation of our thoughts. In fact, entire doctoral thesis have been written on the relationship between social psychology and architecture. This is why the changing architecture of the Christian church interests me so much. I can't help but agree with many who think about these things that our architecture reflects our philosophy. There is a drastic dichotomy between the church edifice of the middle ages and the church edifice today. The middle ages and reformation period saw large, ornate, and very very permanent structures. Originally Romanesque, the cathedrals evolved into the Gothic style, and sported macaroni unmatched in recent times. Pillars, buttresses, and stained glass were all permanent decorations that marked the cathedral. To cement all this, the stained glass usually told a story, such as the seven moments of passion in the crucifixion of Christ, or the virgin birth of Christ, etc. Sometimes, frescoes and tapestries added to this decoration.
Contrast the modern worship set. Architecturally, there is little to separate the churches of today from their surroundings: many churches would be equally at home as a civic center or very large bowling alley. And on the inside, stark stages are decorated with plants and very very plastic "worship sets". These decorations are generally changed from series to series, and usually have no story at all. Forget frescoes of The Creation of Man or stained glass of The Passion of The Christ, these worship sets have cool backgrounds that look like ripped denim covered with embroidery, splashed with gaudy (or worse, "artsy") lighting, and have cool names like "cOVER" with a subtitle scrolling on the jumbotron "the Holy Spirit's dominion".
Now don't get me wrong, I am not against worship sets, no matter that their creators often leave room for ridicule. Nor am I against cathedrals, despite their ostentatious nature. I am simply aware of the vast difference between the architecture. The fact is, modern church design and decoration is very plastic and often vapid, a stark contrast to the previous 1900 years of Christianity.
So what is my conclusion? If I had to guess, I would say that our beliefs and doctrines are far less concrete than they were in the past. We shun "permanent" decorations like stained glass because we don't know when the fads will change and we will no longer be relevant. We avoid "concrete" decorations like frescoes, because who knows when some Biblical scholar will tell as that we have been wrong for the last 2000 years, and Adam was actually a primate. And mostly we avoid lasting decoration because we want to dress up our theology in aesthetically pleasing outfits like a Jesus Action Figure. And like a Jesus Action Figure, we have to keep changing the clothes to keep up with the times. The baggy sweater and leggings from the 80s just aren't cool any more. Perhaps it might surprise some of us to realize that when God had to wrap the gospel up in a concrete, visual way, He chose a cross. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about that.