A disputed election with great ramifications for America’s future lingers on. Covid still stalks the land though a vaccine is near.
This week a majority Americans said Thanksgiving 2020 was the most stressful holiday of their lives. And Christmas is coming.
Now, more than ever. you need to be enlarging your cultural trinity.
What is the cultural trinity and how do I grow it in my life?
Are You Growing Your Cultural Trinity?
Cultural trinity is a new term for me. The moment I read it, it resonated in my spirit. Darrow Miller, author of Wisdom: The Way to Human Flourishing, provides a definition:
“Who am I? Why am I here? What does life mean? Where is my life going? “
“By the time we’re eighteen years old we all ask those basic questions. Why does everyone wonder about such questions? That every human being asks such questions suggests that the answers exist. Just as hunger suggests there is such a thing as food, so questions about transcendence suggest there is such a thing as metaphysical truth. And if there are answers, there must be an Answerer. One who has spoken.”
“The Bible explains the meaning of human existence, the direction of history, and the nature of the world around us. The Bible gives meaning to life. “
“All of reality may be considered from two dimensions: breadth and depth. Let’s say the breadth of reality is represented by the history of the world, the grand sweep of story from creation to today and beyond today to the end of time.”
“If the breadth of reality is history, the depth of reality is the grand story of meaning, the sum of what is true, good and beautiful. These three–truth, goodness and beauty–capture all that humans were created for. Sometimes this is referred to as the cultural trinity.”
“To the extent that an individual is operating rationally, this cultural trinity captures all that he or she is seeking. To understand this fact is to be on the path to wisdom.”
The cultural trinity. Truth, goodness, and beauty.
Miller declares we were created to be attracted or naturally drawn to these three qualities–if we are in our right mind. As moral beings made in the image of God, deep down we all long to:
- Know the truth about life and our part in it.
- Seek a right, good and virtuous way to live.
- Enjoy many aspects of beauty around us.
The longing for these three qualities–truth, goodness, and beauty–exist as a part of the God-shaped vacuum inside of us. God is truth and can reveal it to us. God’s character exudes moral perfection–goodness–which we are drawn to emulate but fail because of sin. And God’s being or essence radiates a glory/beauty to which we are naturally attracted.
To summarize: When we are thinking clearly, we want to know the truth, desire to be good, and enjoy and seek beauty.
This cultural trinity should be growing throughout our lives as our anchor in a dark world.
Are you growing your cultural trinity?
During my mid-teenage years, I began a passionate pursuit of truth. I wanted to know if God was real, how I could come into a right relationship with Him, and what His plans were for my life.
I first gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ because I found him to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). I developed a strong appetite for the Bible which proclaimed that “the sum of God’s Word was truth” (Ps.119:160).
My desire to know the truth led me to important Bible training in New Zealand and Europe which formed a foundation for my future. I also discovered God’s calling or plan for my own life (the truth about me) and began to live it out.
By the time I was in my early twenties, I understood the basics of truth about God, life, history, and what He wanted me to do. For the past forty years I have sought to grow those truths in all areas.
Interestingly, the first major teaching I gave in Youth With A Mission (two weeks of training) was given in the nation of Zimbabwe in 1975. I called it the “Kingdom of God,” and it contained all the truth about God, sin, law, and salvation I knew at the time.
I had found the truth and was excitedly sharing it with others. Today, that series is called “The Kingdom of God and Its Six Self Evident Truths.” You can watch it on video here.
My personal encounter with Jesus made me keenly aware of the need for God’s forgiveness and empowerment to live a good, holy, virtuous, and righteous life. Notice the three synonyms in the previous sentence that describe goodness. The New Testament teems with words and phrases that teach us what is good.
All these traits describe aspects of God’s wonderful character. When we learn to practice them, we bring glory to Him, bless, and encourage others, and bring joy into our own lives.
Over some decades, I developed a teaching series on godly character based on 2 Peter 1:2-11 where eight virtues are mentioned. It became my number one series all over the world because of the importance of goodness in our lives (much of which I shared from the failures and tests of my life). You can watch that video series here.
It’s not Santa that wants you to be “good.” You were created by God to display His goodness–and share it with others.
I arrived at this destination later in life. The older I get, the more I appreciate God’s beauty in creation, the color and design in art, architecture–and even the recent putting up of Christmas decorations in our area. Some of you were attracted to beauty much earlier or have a calling to share it with the world through your personal gifts.
This past week Shirley and I sent a Thanksgiving e-card to many friends. It was a beautifully animated collage of birds, trees, exquisite scenery, and a joyous family gathering at harvest time.
A former pastor of ours, Derrel Emmerson, who shares a keen eye for God’s beauty in nature, sent this response:
“We love the imagery. Thanks for your message and may you be blessed. Color still remains here in Georgia and we are full of thanksgiving these days for the years of feasting our eyes upon the wonders and beauty of God. They speak to us of the grander things in His new earth and coming.”
Derrel gets it.
Francis Shaeffer taught in How Should We Then Live? that our beliefs about God translate directly into the art we create and enjoy. When we glimpse God’s glory, towering cathedrals and superlative naturalistic paintings adorn the landscape. When we are broken by sin and have forgotten our purpose, art becomes disjointed and meaningless.
So, open your eyes to savor the beauty of a flower, the majesty of a sunset and the wonder of a masterpiece. You were made to appreciate God’s beauty all around you.
Truth, goodness, and beauty.
We were created for all three as Pooh Bear is drawn to honey. Pursue the truth in all areas of your life. Hunger and thirst for right living and its manifold fruits. And open your eyes to God’ beautiful world which beckons you toward eternity.
In this dark and confusing time, aim for a “doctoral degree” in the cultural trinity.
That is what you were created for.