One more quick thought about my earlier post on truth:
Defending the “truthiness” of truth is as much a defense of beauty and aesthetics as it is a doctrinal defense. Insisting that we guard truth carefully is like defending school bus yellow or fire engine red. There are many variations on red and yellow, and yay for that. But at some point if you keep adding another color, you’re looking at a different color. It’s fun and necessary to understand the color wheel, to see the varieties, the relationships, the resonances in different colors, but at the end of the day, it matters very much which color is which.
Now shift this to words and truth. Poetry depends upon the truthiness of truth. The engine of poetry is metaphor and the engine of metaphor is truth. And what I mean is that metaphor exists because the law of identity is true because God has given particular identities to particular things. It only makes sense to compare them, to set two very different things side by side, weaving them through one another to create a verbal canvas — that only works if there are in fact two different things being compared, being woven. Otherwise, there is no such thing as metaphor.
And of course when it comes to biblical symbolism and sacraments, the same thing is going on. Now, for someone with a low view of language, a low view of the potency of words and symbols and metaphor, they will dismiss biblical typology and a high sacramentalism as “merely metaphorical” — but this is to miss the fact that metaphor is powerful precisely because it is also true. There is a kind of truth that is only seen through the layering of stories and rituals. What is baptism? By faith, it’s standing with Noah in the ark and being saved through the flood of God’s righteous judgment; it’s being delivered with Israel through the Red Sea from Pharaoh and his armies; it’s the new covenant with the new Israel; it’s washing with Naaman in the muddy river; it’s standing with Jesus on the bank of the Jordan and hearing the Father’s announcement of His pleasure; it’s the cross and resurrection; it’s the sign of the Spirit and adoption.
Anyway, my point is that with a robust appreciation for the law of identity and the corresponding law of non-contradiction, we have the playing field on which to explore Scripture, the colors we need for mining it for all the enormous treasures buried there for the people of God in types and symbols and literary motifs and structures. In the same way, the truthiness of truth unleashes the power of language to craft stories, poems, and songs because words have meaning, because there is such a thing as truth.
To invert the title of a book sitting on my desk at the moment, this is truth for beauty’s sake.
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