A thesis: “When considering faith, it’s helpful to ask, ‘Is this right?’ or ‘Is this good?,’ as a way to discover ‘Is this true?'” (None of this is new; but it’s stuff I like to work out in writing.)

Consider this analogy: When we think about entering into a relationship, say a marriage (but it could be a friendship or even, taking a job at a company), we don’t ask, “Is this step true?” We ask, “Could this step be good? Could this be right?"* And we only discover the answer after we’ve (1) committed to the relationship and (2) lived out that commitment over time. (See Leslie Newbigin’s reading of Michael Polyani for more.)

This knowledge of the goodness or rightness of a relationship through lived experience would typically be seen as subjective knowledge. But, turning now to faith, let’s not discount experience. If a lot of other people, living over the course of centuries and in a range of families, countries, and cultures, also experience that the relationship with God is good and right, doesn’t that suggest the goodness or rightness are reliable, even if they’re known subjectively? (Is that one reason why Christians live their faith in community, in a “cloud of witnesses”?)*

Moreover, even in a one-to-one relationship, such as a marriage, i.e., Megan’s and my marriage, I am pretty confident in knowing that our marriage is good, though it sounds weird(ish) to say, “Our marriage is true." And like a marriage, our experience of faith probably changes over time (and, one hopes, grows). It’s not static.

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” so truth is crucial. But, because the modern era tends to subject truth claims to the scientific method (or something like it), I think formulating faith in terms of what’s good and right is an important way we discover what’s true.

  • By “good” and “right,” I mean not only “good for me”, but also, “fit, apt, appropriate, etc.” for a purpose (which requires knowing the purpose), and also “imbued with an inherent goodness and rightness” that transcends my personal benefit and, even, the aptness for a purpose.

  • Of course, other faiths can make the same claim, so this isn’t a support for Christianity, per se; it’s just an argument for shared experience being some evidence of a possible truth.