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Article 3: On Transcendent Absolutes

conservative declaration squareThis is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.”

We affirm that truth, goodness, and beauty are absolute realities rooted in the nature of God and inseparable from each other (Phil 4:8). For something to be true, it must also be good and beautiful; for something to be good, it must also be true and beautiful; for something to be beautiful, it must also be true and good. Matters of right beliefs, morals, and affections are not always transparent and require careful judgment and discernment.

We deny that right belief is all that is necessary to please the Lord. We deny relativism in matters of truth, morality, or beauty. We further deny that right beliefs, morals, and affections are always easy to discern.

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Belief in transcendent principles is rooted in a recognition that God is the source, sustainer, and end of all things. Romans 11:36 declares that “from him and through him and to him are all things.” The Bible clearly proclaims that God is self-existent and self-sustaining, and all things come from him. Everything that is true is so because God is True. Everything that is good is so because God is good. And everything that is beautiful is so because God is beautiful. There are no such things as brute facts apart from God; they are facts because God determined them to be so. There are no such things as moral standards that are merely conceived out of convention apart from God; actions are moral or immoral because God says they are. And in the same way, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; something is beautiful because God has determined it to be.

With this in mind, Christians as image-bearers of God must be committed to thinking God’s thoughts after him, to behaving in certain ways that conform to God’s moral will, and to loving those things that God calls lovely.

Perhaps the passage that most clearly articulates such a command is Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Here we find a list of absolute standards by which we must judge all things. Everything we encounter must be judged by the qualities in this list, which could be grouped into the three categories of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Since God is the source, sustainer, and end of all things, a conservative Christian believes in absolute standards of truth, goodness, and beauty.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is on faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He has written two books, dozens of articles, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and two children.

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