IT’S TRUE. IT’S GOOD. IT’S BEAUTIFUL.
Christianity is true, good, and beautiful. We can know that it’s true; experience that it’s good; and observe that it’s beautiful. We can do this because we have all been designed to seek truth and accept it. We have been created to be agents of good and to celebrate it when we are the recipients of it. We are made to admire the beautiful and to beautify. These statements are so because the world is the creation of the God who is true, good and beautiful and we are created in the image of this God. Yet there are now people who are now attacking Christianity as evil because they don’t like God or His Laws.
¶ Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
There is no evidence that Goldilocks and the three bears ever existed. But if someone should claim that it was a true story we could apply certain truth-tests to its claims to conclude that it is a fictional fable. Do bears make porridge? Do bears build cabins in the woods? Do bears insist on sleeping on mattresses? The answers to these questions would lead us to the conclusion that the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears is simply a delightful children’s story that someone invented.
¶ In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
But the historical accounts of Jesus of Nazareth are completely different. In Luke’s Gospel he gives precise historical details such as the names of the particular Roman Emperors and officials who were reigning at the time. He gave even more verifiable historical details in his account of the early church, Acts. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers in 54AD in which many scholars recognise that he quotes from Luke’s Gospel. This indicates that Luke’s Gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth was in circulation by 54AD which meant that if his historical accounts were false they could have been refuted by any number of his contemporaries.
¶ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
First Corinthians 15:1-8
The accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth are attested to by the sheer number of ancient manuscripts dating back to the first few centuries AD. Most recently a fragment of the Gospel of Mark was found in Egypt in what archaeologists describe as a first-century rubbish dump. It is a copy of a copy of a copy. (That demonstrates how widely the original copies were in wide circulation.) This Gospel fragment is conservatively dated to 150AD but some experts are dating it as early as 80AD [Source]. The significance of this fragment is enormous. It adds to the growing body of evidence that puts pay to the claim that the Gospels didn’t originate until the late second century and beyond. It also proves how reliable our modern manuscripts are compared with the oldest known manuscripts which confirms just how carefully the original copyists undertook their sacred task.
The claims of Christianity centring on the historical truthfulness of the life, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth are verifiable and therefore valid. As sufficient as this is for religious conversion and devotion, it is not the only thing appealing about Christianity. Christianity is good.
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
First Corinthians 10:24
The impact for good of Christ and His followers on the world is virtually inestimable. This doesn’t just include the history of care for the ostracised and diseased, the education and housing relief for the poor and under-privileged, the establishment of refuges and orphanages, and the crisis relief agencies such as Red Cross and World Vision, it also includes the spontaneous acts of good that have gone on largely unnoticed. For the early Second Century, Christians were going into the town squares, forests, and by-ways where unwanted baby girls were dumped in the middle of the night to suffer the ravages of freezing nights (known as “exposure”) and ravenous wolves. These baby girls were raised by these Christian families as if they were their own children. Eventually their kindness toward these unwanted baby girls changed the Roman cultural view of the practice of exposure to regarding it as a Barbaric practice!
¶ Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
This tradition of Christian goodness still lives on today in both public and unnoticed ways. Following Christ has inspired some of the greatest acts of supererogatory behaviour the world has ever seen. If you have never heard of Dawson Trotman (who founded the Navigators) do yourself a favour and read a biography of his very short life and marvel at why it was so short.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
All of these supererogatory acts were inspired by the selfless goodness of Jesus the Christ. Of course there have been people who identified as Christians do some bad things, but in order to do so they had to violate the teaching and example of our Lord! Christianity is demonstrably good. But this is not the only appeal it has. It is also beautiful.
In C.S. Lewis’s book, The Abolition of Man, he argues against those who claim that there is no such thing as beauty. A beautiful waterfall in a rainforest, he argues, is not merely a collection of hydrogen and oxygen molecules being subject to gravity. It actually is beautiful. Beauty evokes a sense of pleasure. It causes us to admire. We are created to find beauty appealing and satisfying. Things can be beautiful. People can be beautiful. Stories can be beautiful. Acts of sacrifice can be beautiful especially when motivated by selfless love – and there is no greater example of this than the story that lies at the heart of Christianity.
¶ One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in His temple.
The word ‘beauty’ occurs 18 times in one of the most mysterious books of the Bible. In many respects, the story within The Song of Songs, is a microcosm of the Bible’s whole story. It is a love story. It commences with a beautiful garden scene of idyllic intimacy which is then interrupted by an unwelcome intruder who, in the absence of her protector-betrothed, enslaves her and takes her captive. What ensues is a selfless rescue plan which culminates in a glorious reunion and a magnificent marriage [watch]. This account is a shadow of the larger metanarrative in the Bible which describes the beautiful idyllic Garden of Eden setting where God, Adam and Eve, celebrated their mutual love. But then the Intruder came and drove a wedge between the lovers. The Bible then unfolds the patient rescue plan of God culminating in Him becoming a human who gave His life as a substitute for those condemned to death, climaxing in a magnificent reunion and marriage in an eternal paradise. It’s a beautiful story that lies at the heart of the Christian story.
Because beauty is so integral to Christianity, traditional church buildings were built to be beautiful inside and out. Little wonder then that some of the world’s great art has been inspired by the beauty of the Christian story. But perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the Christian story is not merely in its telling, but in how magnificently it has transformed the lives of those whom Christ has rescued and redeemed. And I should know because I am one of them.