Tuesday, April 8, 2008

RE: GRM Question #2(A): “Revelation”

I think this question really revolves around the term “revelation”. I once read that studying theology is like joining in on a conversation that has been going on for thousands of years. As time pass I find this analogy so true. If you have taken part in an internet forum/discussion board that has been going on for a long time you would realize that new terms start to pop up to better describe what they wanted to express. Not only that, the meaning of some words begins to morph and take on new meanings. It is very much the same in theology. Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language reflects the same by defining “revelation” as “a revealing; something revealed; (theol.) God’s manifestation of himself to man; something revealed to man by God”.

Below are some more explicit definitions of the theological terms by theologians themselves (including “general revelation” and “special revelation”). Understanding what theologians mean when they say “revelation” will help us answer this question.

By this we mean God's manifestation of himself to man in such a way that man can know and fellowship with Him. – Erickson.

God has taken initiative and has, in intelligible ways, disclosed himself to people. – Lewis & Demarest

General/Universal Revelation:
General revelation is God's communication of Himself to all persons at all times and in all places. – Erickson

General revelation refers to the disclosure of God in nature, in providential history, and the moral law within the heart, whereby all persons at all times and places gain a rudimentary understanding of the Creator and his moral demands. – Lewis & Demarest

God everywhere gives knowledge of Himself. – Rodman

Special Revelation:
By special revelation we mean God's manifestation of himself to particular persons at definite times and places, enabling those persons to enter into a redemptive relationship with him. – Ericksson

God’s self-disclosure through signs and miracles, the utterance of prophets and apostles, and the deeds and words of Jesus Christ, whereby specific people at particular times and place gain further understanding of God’s character and a knowledge of his saving purposes in His Son. – Lewis & Demarest

Now that we have understood the meanings of these words we can now tackle the question at hand.

I believe it is God who gave us the ability to discover him. If God were to choose to hide himself from us none of us would be able to know him. I hold to the calvinistic view that man is totally depraved, that man does not even have the ability to find God on his own terms. Man did not find God, it was God who revealed himself to us. God chose to reveal himself to us through nature, creation, history, and even by sending his begotten son Jesus Christ. I believe that when it comes to revealing himself, God has the prerogative. It is totally up to God whether or not he chooses to reveal himself, it is also up to him how he wants to reveal himself. It is totally up to him. Our part only comes in after receiving God’s revelation. Then we can choose to accept or reject him.

We do not deserve any of this, however God chose to reach out to us. This is amazing grace.

... I am still amazed.

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