What Do Our Longings For Truth, Beauty, And Goodness All Have In Common?
What do our longings for truth, beauty, and goodness all have in common? I think we can find the common denominator at least by two points. The first is a philosophical observation, the second less so.
First, there is the desire for objective value. In each encounter with truth, beauty, and goodness, we eschew subjectivism and claim we’ve made contact with the “really real.” Adherents of Buddhism, Islam, atheism, Marxism, and Judaism believe these worldviews accurately open up the world to us. Our statements about beauty, for example, are intended as statements about the world, not merely our psychological state(s). When we denounce the torture of babies, we’re not simply voicing our opinions. We are saying even if we (i.e. the person making the statement) never existed, torturing babies would still be wrong. Popular opinions, money, and power cannot change the status of baby torture.
While there are people who don’t accept the concept of objective value, most do. But those who reject it cannot live out this view consistently. When we say there’s no ultimate truth, we are making an ultimate truth claim. Christianity takes these intuitions seriously and imbues them with greater meaning. And this greater meaning can be intensely personal, which takes us to my second point.
The second common denominator of the big three is the desire to be united something or someone greater than ourselves. We want to have the truth, but we want the truth to have us as well. We long to be both beautiful and beloved by beauty. We want to live in a good and just world, and live as good and just people. Is there any way this is possible? It’s vital to note how the Bible often describes the relationship between God and his people. This relationship is one of covenant. The covenant is a binding agreement made between two or more parties confirmed by an oath. Marriage is a covenant and this is exactly how the people of God are related to their Savior and champion. Paul entreats husbands to a self giving, to-the-death love for their wives (Eph. 5:25-27). Why? Because this is how Christ loves his bride.
By faith we lay hold of Christ, and through faith Christ lays hold of us.