1 Cor. 7:25
- Most of the clergy of the United and Anglican Churches (Episcopalian in the U.S.A. and the Church of England in the U.K.) hold the following view of revelation expressed by William Temple:
"There are truths of revelation, that is to say propositions which express the results of correct thinking concerning revelation, but they are not themselves directly revealed."1
- God is viewed as revealing Himself by illuminating chosen observers of "significant events" so that they perceived what the events meant in terms of the divine character and plan. The events, therefore, are considered to gain revelatory status through the divine enlightenment (i.e., through the observer's heightened intuitive and reflective capacities, and sharpened moral and spiritual perceptions). Revelation is not considered to be the act of God communicating words, i.e., propositions. This view of revelation is sometimes referred to as "non-propositional".
- The non-propositional view of revelation destroys Biblical faith which honours God in trusting what He has said. When Abraham (whom the New Testament sets forth as an example of the man of faith par excellence) believed God, "it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6 cf. Gen. 15:6). The object of Abraham's faith was a specific promise, a seed which would become as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Gen. 15:1-6). But according to Temple's theory of revelation there never was an objective revelation of promise to Abraham. However, the Abrahamic promise consisted of informative statements, but informative statements are propositional; therefore, revelation is propositional.
- If revelation is in the event rather than in the interpretation, revelation can be re-shaped according to one's subjective whims. For example, C. Dodd dismisses the divine words of commission which Jeremiah heard (Jer. 1:4-19) as "actual hallucinations".2 Dodd's view requires that a "thus saith the Lord" be read as "I feel quite certain that if God spoke He would say . . . "3
- The view of revelation outlined in the problem nullifies the claim of Scripture for its prophecies. In fact, it must disallow even the claim made in Isaiah, "I am God, and there is none else . . . declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done . . . " (Isa. 46:9,10). It might prove enlightening for such expounders to account for the prophecies concerning the Jew in Deut. 28 and Lev. 26, or Tyre (Ezek. 26), and Babylon (Isa. 13).
- The non-propositional view of revelation in effect makes Jesus a fraud. If there were no revealed truths, then the statements made by Jesus Christ are not revealed truths. But Jesus claimed to have received revealed truths:
- "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me . . ." (John 7:16).
- "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." (John 8:28).
- "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak . . . whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." (John 12:49, 50).
- Since revelation is not considered to be a direct communication of information, (in the non-propositional view of revelation), reliance is usually placed on the "assured results" of criticism. This amounts to a kind of papalism - the "infallibility of the scholars" from whom one can learn the "assured results".4 The task of the clergy then becomes that of reconstructing Biblical history (i.e., what really happened). From the Biblical narratives and the reconstruction, assessment is made of the adequacy of the interpretation of history which Biblical writers have recorded. Attempts at reconstruction, from the "modern" point of view square more easily with a naturalistic, evolutionary, anti-miraculous, uniformitarian outlook than it does with belief that Biblical history has been checkered by God revealing information (content) otherwise unknowable.
- The Greek word for "reveal" is "apokalupto" which means to "uncover" or "unveil".5 Revelation is the process whereby God disclosed to chosen men things otherwise unknowable. (e.g., Dan. 2:22; 8:27; 10:1; 1 Cor. 2:9,10; Eph. 3:3-5; Rev. 1:1).
- Revelation is a divine activity, "God . . . hath . . . spoken". (Heb. 1:1,2). It was a verbal ("hath spoken") and cumulative ("by the prophets . . . by his Son"). Revelation is not, therefore, a human flash of insight or the emergence of a bright idea.
- The chief fallacy in viewing revelation as other than propositional is the assumption that man can read God's mind, learn his character, guess his motives and predict his movements by unaided brainwork.6 "Modern" theology has yet to learn, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Psa. 55:8,9). "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord . . . ?" (Rom. 11:33,34).
- William Temple, Nature Man and God, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1934), p. 317. Return
- C. Dodd, The Authority of the Bible, (London: Harper, 1958), p. 83. Return
- The "death of God" theology is the legitimate offspring of its liberal parents who fed upon such views of the non-objective character of divine revelation. Return
- This point is expanded in J. I. Packer, God Hath Spoken: Revelation and the Bible, (London: Hodder and Stoughteon, 1965), pp. 12-18. Return
- Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, (London: Lutterworth Press, 1965). Return
- Denial of the Virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles and his bodily resurrection is the end-product of current theological speculations. Return