Thursday, August 21, 2014

Revelation and Reason: Revisiting the Dialectical Movement [Part 3 of ?]

Before I move to the next premise in my argument I would be remiss not to mention the authoritative nature of revelation. Van Til writes,

The Christian has derived his convictions on these matters from Scripture as the infallible Word of God. As self-explanatory, God naturally speaks with absolute authority. It is Christ as God who speaks in the Bible. Therefore the Bible does not appeal to human reason as ultimate in order to justify what it says. It comes to the human being with absolute authority. Its claim is that human reason must itself be taken in the sense in which Scripture takes it, namely, as created by God and as therefore properly subject to the authority of God.[1]

The kind of Christianity derived from the Bible asserts that divine revelation is authoritative. Because it is authoritative, it must also be clear. This is true for what we call natural revelation just as much as it is for special revelation. Paul writes to the Roman Christians, making this very point: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.[2] 

We see in this text Paul is clearly asserting that the revelation is clear to all. We also see in v. 18 that men’s willing refusal to acknowledge God in revelation brings with it divine wrath. He also expresses this view to the Athenians not long before penning his words to the Romans. In his great Areopagus address he thunders,

“that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”[3]

Revelation then must be viewed as both clear and authoritative. In summary, we see that Christian theism, that is, the kind of Christian theism taught by and revealed in Scripture, claims that divine revelation is an activity of God that involves the disclosure of facts and information about God and the world around us. Moreover, we see that this revelation is key to our knowledge about and understanding of God and the created order, which includes the physical universe. Indeed, revelation was necessary from the beginning. If Adam was going to understand the world about him, he had to begin with God as its source and interpret his discoveries in light of God’s revelation. Not only is this revelation necessary, it is authoritative and sufficient. From this we should conclude that Christian theism holds to a distinctly revelational epistemology. The idea of a revelational epistemology has far-reaching impacts for the Christian religion, not to mention a distinctly Christian philosophy. In addition, the impact of such a view carries significant weight for the field of Christian apologetics.

At this point we see that revelation is imparting of information. Since God created all things, He is the source of all things. If we want to know anything at all, we must know by way of the source of those things. We also see that as created beings, derivative in nature, we are dependent on revelation. In addition, being fallen humans with a sin nature, revelation becomes even more necessary. In addition, revelation is clear. God made it clear. God made it so clear that those who deny revelation are without any excuse, or apologetic. This revelation is authoritative. God will punish those who refuse to believe it for what it is. Hence, revelation is sufficient for God's purpose even when certain philosophers, atheists, and some God-hating theologians claim that it isn't.

I realize this is a shorter post, but I wanted to wrap up this section before moving on to a discussion about human reason.

[1] Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge. (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1969).

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ro 1:20.

[3] Ibid., Ac 17:27–31.

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