Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Importance of Revelation

It's overcast here today, and the wind is quite brisk. It's refreshing, to be sure, and I realize that the days are coming when the temperatures will soar, and I'll long for these cool stormy days!
As a Christian, I look at the weather conditions, and I stand amazed at the glory of God evident in his creation. But I see it that way, only because God has revealed himself to humanity in words and ideas--written down in Scripture--and not merely through the natural realm. Without that information, I might be just as likely to believe that the wind or the clouds were gods at war with the sun god, battling to keep him covered up! Lots of ancient cultures did believe such things. (The Egyptians come to mind, especially, but that's probably because I've been watching the 50th anniversary edition of DeMille's "Ten Commandments" over the last few weeks. There's plenty of extras & commentary there.)
The psalmist gets at this idea a bit when he opens the 121st psalm, "I will lift up my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from?" The hills and mountains were places where altars and temples were built to the various deities that the people living in Palestine worshiped. Perhaps, they might also have thought--as did the Greeks--that their gods lived on top of the mountains.
But the author of the 121st doesn't stop there! He (she?) continues, "My help comes from Yahweh, who made heaven (the sky) and earth!" He goes on in the succeeding verbs to depict a God who does not sleep, who is always watchful, and who is in control of the entire natural world!
Where did this songwriter get these ideas? Were they merely intuited from the observation of nature? No. The psalmist has had this revealed to them because he has been steeped in the teaching of the Torah--the first 5 books of the Bible--which depicts, among other things, a creator God who is superior to nature and who made humanity the highest pinnacle of nature!
One might, strictly by observation, come to the conclusion that there is a Divine Artist who put all this together. However, it would be impossible to deduce that this Artist is morally good, loves us, and wants to enter into a relationship with us. This is the realm of specially-revealed truth--the 95-cent theological term for this is "special revelation."
This is why reading and internalizing the Bible is so important! In it, we find out things that we would never have guessed on our own! We find in Scripture the heart of God!

Listening to: The blowing of the wind through the trees


Anonymous said...

But all is not lost on the "unsaved". We may be too narrow in our concepts of what special revelaition is all about. Maybe special revelation is like unto special education and is needed only for the slow of spirit.

I have recently been porfoundly impacted by eph 3:19 - "that you may know the love that surpasses knowledge". We all could drown in the depth of that prayer. To our limited western minds it sounds like a logical inconsistency. To God, however, it is the only way to communicate a great truth.

Yes I beleive in the importance of special revelation. I would only question the scope, occurance and speciality of the revelation. For western Christians it seems obvious that scripture and the life/death/resurection of Christ is of paramount importance. But what if those extream measures were necisitated by our self imposed "logical" limits that we place on God? Maybe we are "special" and needed the extra help.

Random musing my friend. Some close to heresy I know. But at the end of my life I truly pray I will have learned what cannot be taught and know what surpasses knowledge.

Allen said...

You're right. That's pretty close to heresy.
I don't deny that--for instance--"God placed eternity in the hearts of people," so that we long for something beyond this life, nor do I deny that there are some things that we may (must?) know experientially, such as Paul expresses in Ephesians. But these alone are hardly enough to enter into a real covenant relationship with God.
If the need for special revelation is a result of a "special" problem, it is a human problem, not merely a Western one. Apparently, God thought Adam and Eve needed to have him reveal himself to them--before the "Fall."
And it was to the very non-western descendants of Abraham that God made his initial covenant and revealed his law. And if God really thought people could know him on their own, apart from any special revelation, whence the call upon believers to declare the Gospel to all nations?
I may have somewhat overstated the case in my post, but, while all may not be lost on the "unsaved," they remain lost apart from the revealed truth of God's Word.