The Layered Path to God: Finding God in Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

by Drake Burrows April 4, 2023

The path to God is singular (i.e., Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life [see John 14:6]), but it is also layered. In fact, does not that famous passage—John 14:6—bear witness to the path’s layered-ness? Jesus is one Person in whom all three realities—Way, Truth, and Life—consist. When it comes to Jesus, there is therefore a unity-within-diversity and diversity-within-unity.

Three Stubborn Realities

Following the footsteps of Plato and Aristotle, many of the wisest philosophers and theologians have orbited their thoughts and writing around the ‘three Transcendentals’ of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Though some [almost entirely modern] thinkers have tried to abandon such categories as relics of an old age, these three metaphysical Rascals keep showing up to the party. You can drag them through the mud of your modern philosophical assumptions (and presumptions), you can treat them as if they don’t exist, or you can blithely shrug at the fact that they do exist, and still, one fact remains: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty stand at the door and knock.

Longing for Embodiment

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ to an incredibly diverse crowd of thinkers in the city of Athens. Among this crowd are Stoic and Epicurean philosophers (Acts 17:8), whose ancient philosophical ideas have made a (not-so-surprising) comeback among today’s public intellectuals.1 Smack-dab in the middle of this 1st-century TED talk, Paul says that God providentially places all peoples within their given localities “so that they might seek God, and perhaps… reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). Soon after, he concludes his talk by doing what Christians have done ever since: calls people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus for eternal salvation (Acts 17:30-31).

So, God is not far from you, right now, even as you sit and read this article. More than that, He’s calling you to “reach out and find Him.” He wants you to take hold of all that He is for you in Christ Jesus. He wants you to trust, in your heart of hearts, that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; that He is the fullest embodiment of what those philosophers and theologians haven’t been able to run from; that he is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty “in human form” (Philippians 4:7).

For Those Who Are Lost (Non-believers)

You’ve heard echoes of the God who is Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, haven’t you? The echoes might have been faint, but even so, they’ve been unmistakably, and even hauntingly, there. In the fruity and bittersweet taste of morning coffee that leaves you feeling calm and collected (Goodness); in a sunrise or sunset that seems to beckon you upward and onward to Something in the beyond itself (Beauty); in the delightful book that leaves you pondering the deep and mysterious things of life, things which you know are there, even if you can’t see them (Truth).

Or maybe you’ve heard the echoes in the minor keys of your life. Maybe it was in the devastating loss of a young child (which cried out for Goodness); or the ugliness of a long-and-drawn-out divorce (which cried out for Beauty); or the falsehood of a lying “friend” or co-worker you once trusted (which cried out for Truth). What you experienced in these moments was not a sense of divine Fullness but a sense of the world’s emptiness, maybe even your own emptiness. These minor keys in your life have created an acute sense of absence in your heart and mind.

What I want to suggest is that, in all of these moments, moments of delightful Fullness and vacuous emptiness, the Lord Jesus Christ is inviting you to fall into His loving embrace. Out of his own Fullness, he is calling, “Come to me and receive more than you could ever imagine,” and in the darker moments of your own emptiness, he is saying, “Come to me and be filled until you are full and overflowing.” So, the ultimate question is: will you lay down your defenses and come to the One who is infinitely Good, Beautiful, and True? Will you enter His rest?

For Those Who Are Found (Believers)

If you are a Christian, then the same God who is Goodness, Beauty, and Truth has already drawn you to Himself by the very same means. Was it not your experience that the faint echoes of transcendence, at some point in your life, gave way to the full Melodies of “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)? And did you not receive Him with the empty hands of faith? If so, then you are now a new creation, walking in the midst of an age that is both old and passing away (see Galatians 1:4, 6:15).

And so here’s the trick: don’t forget about those echoes. Don’t forget the fact that God has called you out of evil, ugliness, and falsehood into his own Truth, Goodness, and Beauty (cf 1 Peter 2:9). In fact, the echoes of these things were the very means by which God awakened your dead and dying heart to resurrection Life. Furthermore, in Christ, every last echo you’ve experienced of these things in our fallen world will one day be redeemed and restored in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1-5). Thus, “God [will bring] everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him” (Ephesians 1:10).

There’s only one path to God, to be sure, but never forget: the path is layered with Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

1 One thinks of the neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, whose app Waking Up, resounds with Stoic and Epicurean philosophical thought.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at