Truth. Goodness. Beauty. These three words appear in Latin on Morning Star’s school seal, and our desire for our students is that they will seek Truth, Goodness, and Beauty — and find them! Where should the search begin? What do we mean by each of these words, and why do they appear together? Our spring blog series will take us on a tour.
In the classical era, Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato conversed and wrote about the nature of reality. They held that there were ideals “beyond” human experience and existence; ideals to which humans must conform in order to properly flourish. These ideals were “cosmic”— over and around all the created world that humans could observe. In the Christian tradition, these ideals are identified with the mind of God — what he thinks about things and how he has defined the truth of all things.
Christians discover the unity of these cosmic ideals in the person of Jesus Christ — in Greek, the Logos. Colossians 1:17 declares, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Christians can proclaim that Jesus himself is True, Good, and Beautiful!
In this post, let’s look more deeply at Truth. At the most recent in-service day, Pastor Chuck Rennie spoke to Morning Star faculty about the nature of Truth and posed the question: Is Truth whatever I conform to my thinking … or is Truth something to which my thinking must conform? He explained:
1) If Truth is whatever I conform to my thinking, then I am the subject. (The subject would be the “actor”— ask your Grammar student for a quick lesson!) And if I am the subject, then the Truth is subjective. It emerges from my personal identity or values. My truth shows itself through my self-expression. So I can twist it.
2) If Truth is something to which my thinking must conform, then it is based in the truth of the object being observed. It is objective. Truth derives from something outside myself. It corresponds to some greater reality; it is not constructed to make reality. So I can seek it.
But wait … There’s an exception! God is the Subject, and the nature of reality does in fact conform to his thinking. Subjectivism is God’s prerogative alone. All of the created order is an outworking of the Mind of the Maker. It is patterned after his own thinking, and it is presented to us — men and women made in his image — to discover and enjoy. Christians would say he creatively conformed the cosmos to the Truth of his own thinking. This is why Truth is referred to as a “transcendental.” Because it is an essential aspect of all things, the truth of all things is able to point us to the Transcendent One who created all things.
How does one discover and enjoy objective Truth? Through cultivating moral and intellectual virtues — a central goal of classical Christian education. Virtuous students will exhibit, for example, humility, patience, and courage in their search for the Maker’s reality. Virtues are not only “right-thinking”; they are the right-ordering of what a person desires. We are called by our Maker to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12 and Deuteronomy 6).
Classical Christian education is built on these foundations: Truth is objective. Our existence is grounded in a Truth beyond us. We can discover Truth … and love it above everything else! Children are formed (or malformed) by their education. Are we raising up Truth twisters or Truth seekers?
Want to go a little deeper? Look for our next two blog posts on Goodness and Beauty, and consider reading Stephen Turley, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It’s a short book that unpacks Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in a way that keeps them all connected. The Morning Star library has a copy.