Archive for February, 2009

Theology Ditty 6: “What is the Holy Spirit’s Relationship to Special Revelation?”

February 25, 2009

Since the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and the church is manifold, I will limit my discussion of His role in special revelation to that of the Scripture. At the time of its composition and canonization, the Holy Spirit played the vital role of interlocutor for the Trinity, guiding the thoughts and choices of the authors and the assemblers to produce the Bible that we have today. In the reading of the Bible and its understanding today, the Holy Spirit acts as the interpreter, guiding our thoughts and responses to the Holy Word.

In ancient days, as God revealed Himself to mankind, the Holy Spirit interceded in the lives and writings of the biblical authors to produce the dual source, human and divine, in which God’s revealed truth was transmitted to the people of their day and to us. Through Moses, by bringing recollection of stories passed down the generations and the common law of the civilized peoples of his day, the Holy Spirit codified God’s righteous law and its practical out-workings to the children of Israel. Through David and the other psalmists, the Holy Spirit transmitted the beauty of God’s nature and truth to us in song and poem. Through the prophets, culminating in Jesus Himself, the Holy Spirit expanded and expounded upon the foundations of faith laid down by the forefathers. Through the apostles, the Holy Spirit explained the fulfillment of all revealed truth, as well the higher call of the Christian life and the church as He dwelt within us.

Now as we read the Scripture, the Holy Spirit continues to teach and proclaim the ageless truths of God. He corrects our errors and guides our thoughts to reconcile the mysteries of the spiritual realm with the realities of the world in which we live. He comforts and rebukes by teaching us how to live, showing how we are cared for in life, and bringing remembrance to us out of the storehouse of our memory and meditations.

Theology Ditty 5: “Does Special Revelation Exist Outside of the Bible?”

February 16, 2009

When God reveals some truth to us, be it during Bible study or prayer or even in some reflection on creation or life experiences, that truth in order to be special revelation must certainly align with existing Scripture (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) and must be a previously unknown truth. In this regard, much of what is proposed to be new insight or revelation in recent years is in fact false teaching meant to distract us from the worship of the true God and from obedience to His eternal precepts and requirements. So is that insight I had two days ago during quiet time really revelatory or something else?

Some insights are not revelatory, but merely inspiratory. Sometimes when we read and meditate on Scripture, we see something new, but not something not already known or revealed. Maybe we find a new reference to Christ in the Old Testament. Maybe we see a new connection in the wording or themes of two different biblical authors. Perhaps we find a refreshing hope or renewed joy from an obscure passage. These are not revelatory, in the sense that they tell us and all other believers something not previously understood. These have been revealed by the inspiration of the Spirit, but being not unique, are not equal to a new addendum to Scripture.

Some insights are not revelatory, but sadly contradictory to the tenor of previous revelation. Much of the re-interpretation that results from a reader-centered view falls in this category. Along with this heterodoxy, there is outright heresy as is seen in contemporary and recent cults, where major doctrines or whole passages are ignored or re-worked. In doing so, this “revelation” achieves nothing more than springboarding off the name or reputation of Christianity in order to promote a new (or old) alternative to true faith. It is this kind of insight that the Deuteronomy passage seeks to guard against. These are not revelatory because this “new light” often seeks not to support previous revelation, but undermine it.