Gettin’ to know Theo: Revelation (part 1) Feb 2021
God is infinite. We are finite. God is uncreated. We are created. God is all-knowing, we are not. Therefore, it is God’s prerogative to reveal himself to us. His methods and the extent he reveals himself is also up to him, not us. As we begin to get to know Theo (God), it is important to start with how we can know anything about him. First, understand that we cannot have a full and exhaustive knowledge of God. Why? Because we are finite. We think in terms that are finite, not in the infinite as God. So, we can know God sufficiently, but not exhaustively. That is what is mean when theologians say, “God is incomprehensible.” We are fortunate God chooses to reveal himself to us.
God reveals himself to us in two major ways, through General and Special Revelation. We will look at both in-depth, but let’s briefly summarize both. General Revelation points to something about God that is available to all people in all time and all locations. Direct speech or some other manifestation of God is not needed for General Revelation. Psalm 8 is a good example of General Revelation as it discusses God declaring himself through the creation. Special Revelation is more specific than General Revelation and is best understood as God breaking into human history to reveal himself specifically to an individual. Prophets and Scripture are two good examples of Special Revelation. Both General and Special Revelation can be seen in Psalm 19, where it speaks of General (vs. 1-6) and Special (vs. 7-14). Romans 1-3 is another good example where both are discussed. We will explore both types over the coming months.
Before getting deep into each category as we will do, let’s first recognize a few things about the two and some of the history. Mainly, General and Special Revelation are not in conflict with one another. After reading that, you might say, “Of course not! How could it?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Throughout Christian theological history there have been some that have downplayed General Revelation to the point of saying that there is no such thing. In fairness to them, they were reacting against theologians who were elevating General Revelation to the level of Special Revelation. Analyzing the history of theology you realize it is often a pendulum. When the pendulum swings too far one way (in this case elevating General Revelation) the reaction is to swing too far in the opposite direction (in this case to say there is no such thing as General Revelation). Rarely do you find the pendulum in the center, recognizing that both exist in harmony, yet Special Revelation is superior in that it is a more complete revelation than General Relation. Another reason I bring up that General and Special Revelation are not in conflict is because certain circles of Christianity has become very anti-science. Yet, science is simply the study of General Revelation. Like anything it can be abused and distorted, but science in general should be championed by Christians as it gives insights and it grows our amazement in our Creator, Sustainer God.
Having given those broad definitions and some background, next month we will look more deeply at General Revelation.
Your Resident Theology Nerd,