In my last meditation (The Beautiful One – 04/28/19), I tried to show how beauty can bring us to God. I related some aesthetic experiences that I had, which in their beauty and mystery brought me closer to God. I would like to look at another of the “Transcendentals” to see how it may also bring us to God.
“Transcendental” is a technical theological term that refers to those things in nature, accessible to everyone, which can lead us to God. These are available to everyone in whatever culture one finds oneself. They are familiarly called: the good, the true and the beautiful. Each of them individually and all of them together can bring us to God even if we are not believers yet. These transcendentals work in the realm of what we call Natural Law: that which God imbeds in all of creation to help every human being to come to the truth of belief in God, who transcends tangible reality (hence the name: transcendental).
Having looked at how beauty brings us to God, we turn to that which is true. With this one, we come up to a barrier that is unique to the modern age: there are people today who do not believe that there is anything like ‘objective truth’ (i.e. that which is true for anyone, anywhere). Like Pilate, they ask, “What is Truth?” and then move in the direction of ‘subjective truth’ (i.e. it may be true for you but not for me!).
One of the most important statements of belief that is necessary to make in this world is that there is truth that is true for everyone objectively. We have no problem with this in the realm of science. We all are searching for the cure for cancer. No one would seriously say that when an American scientist discovers it then it would only be true for Americans; that the Chinese will have to find their own cure for ‘Chinese Cancer’! Of course this is absurd! But we strongly believe in this modern world that truth is contingent on culture and on personal approbation for it to be valid! When one discovers something that is true, it must have universal value.
There is a moving moment in the book “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers. For those who do not remember the author, let me just say that Chambers was a secret Soviet spy who had a conversion experience that caused him to reveal to the American people the government officials who were actually
spying for the Soviets, chief among them was a man high up in government named Alger Hiss.
The moment of Chambers’ conversion occurred when he was feeding his infant child. He caught sight of the child’s ear, noticing as if for the first time the perfect construction of it and how exact was the design of that construction. On the spot he began to believe in God and from that moment strove to live morally and ethically. The whole house of cards fell at that moment, which led him to the confession of what he was doing and the exposing of the plot to take down the American government. In short, he
discovered and instantaneously accepted the “Truth” that there is a God and that God requires us to live lives of moral purpose and truth.
The Truth set him free.
Moral action begins in the mind, which is the arena of truth and falsehood. What begins as a thought grows through action and the emotions into action and with time into a way of being that can be false or can be true. It often takes a great deal of time to discover if we are living in truth or in falsehood. Once we are on one or the other road, God or the devil can build a structure that becomes second nature to us and remains unchallenged.
But there is a big difference. God builds in Truth, but the devil in lies. Chambers believed all the lies in the Soviet system. But it took only one truth to destroy that whole system. What God builds, beginning with the mind, is solid because it is true. What the devil builds has only the appearance of solidity, but in the end is a mirage and has no substance.
Like what is beautiful, what is true can lead anyone to God, whether they believe in Him or not!