Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

“All the LORD’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep his covenant and decrees” (Psa 25:10).

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you” (Psa 31:19).

“I have asked one thing from the LORD; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking him in his temple” (Psa 27:4).

Truth. Goodness. Beauty. What accounts for these? They are not material objects, yet everyone has a concept of them. Everyone longs for them. They cannot be found by buying them online in a store. They cannot be found as physical objects to grab onto or move around. Still, they are part of the reality by which we all live. Materialism cannot account for them.  

What is your standard of what is true? How do you determine what is good? How do you know beauty? Remove God from any answer and what will you have? Personal preferences? Whatever society says? Human experience? What other options are there? Are these sufficient enough to answer the questions?

Once God is taken out of the answers, no other standard suffices to provide us with what is universally true, good, or beautiful. Personal preferences provide no standard for anyone but self. We might as well debate the favored flavor of ice cream. What society says is in constant flux, and often one culture has generally accepted what others would consider to be immoral practices. Why are they wrong? There is no standard there. And human experience? Once we allow human experience to be a standard of what is true and good, just about anything will go, for human experience includes the most perverse evils conceived along with those who would defend the evils. Why shouldn’t they be allowed, too? None of these give us any standards outside of ourselves, and we are miserable makers of definitive rules. You can disagree if you wish, but what standard will you use to make your case? What if I reject your standard? Why would it matter?

Removing God from the answers leaves us lurching for something solid to grasp, and we aren’t finding it. We are trying to feel our way through a darkness that has no hope of light. This is why Paul’s point in Acts 17 is significant. We are reaching for something, but what is it?  Paul argues that God made humanity “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” (Acts 17:27-28) People long for something that is true, something that is good, something that is truly beautiful. God made us this way, but are we looking in the right place?

We innately reach for God. Denying Him is pointless, without excuse (Rom 1:20). The true, the good, and the beautiful find their answers in Him because they are intrinsic to who He is. With God, the standard does not come from within a corrupted humanity, but from the outside, from the only One who has never been corrupted. Only God has the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to provide what is universally needed because only He stands above the creation and sees the total picture of reality. Truth, goodness, and beauty are grounded in who God is. These are not arbitrarily imposed preferences coming from corrupted, finite, ignorant people. Our worldview matters because it says something vital about the standards we choose to accept and reject. Again …what is your standard of what is true? How do you determine what is good?

Christians know that their standard is God. “Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!” Like Peter asked, we ask, “Lord, to whom shall we go” (John 6:68). Where else can we turn? The Lord shows us what is good because He is innately good. We are then called upon to imitate the Lord to the best of our abilities. What this means practically is that, as one author put it, “Christians are called to be creators and cultivators of the good, true, and beautiful” (Paul Gould, Cultural Apologetics, 24). We become lights to the world through conveying to the world the truth, goodness, and beauty that emanates from our God. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth…” (Eph 5:8-9).

Truth, goodness, and beauty connect together. In our Lord, these appear in their perfection and fullness. In turn, as we reflect Him, being conformed to His image, we show the world what it means to look to the only true and perfect Standard.