Archive for March, 2009

Theology Ditty 8: “What are the Sources of Natural Revelation?”

March 16, 2009

Natural revelation, that is the way that we know God and His nature apart from Scripture, is found in four locations. We find God’s providence for His own in the balance of creation. We find God’s nature in the order of the universe. We find God’s character in the uniqueness of human nature. We find God’s love in society and the
family.

When one looks at the complexity of relationships within nature, how every organism at some level is dependent and interrelated to every other, we find that God provides for His creation. He has ensured that every being made is taken care of, that they are fed and sheltered, that they have all that they need to live as He plans (Matthew 6:25-31). This providence is apparent to all men, even when they choose to see it as the result of evolution or natural processes.

The universe, in its simplicity of processes (that the same forces acts at all levels of scale and time) and its complexity of form (molecules, galaxies, and so forth, belies a orderliness that should strikes us as odd. That we find structure and organization as commonplace, even routine, in our world should tell us that we do not live in such a random universe after all. We perceive God as not arbitrary or incomprehensible, but desiring and providing order and ease of understanding.

In the human experience, we discover how God is by His nature and how we are to relate to Him. As with Adam, we instinctively know that we are different from other animals – we see that we are special. We then deduce that a Creator that seeks order and provides for His own is not unlike we are, that we share some characteristics with God. From the love of the family and the structures we find and support in larger society, we learn next how God relates to us, as Father and Lord.

Theology Ditty 7: “Is Natural Revelation Enough to Save a Person?”

March 9, 2009

No, natural revelation is insufficient to save someone because it lacks the ability to reveal in whom that person must rely for salvation. While creation testifies to the goodness and ultimate existence of God, it does not speak to His plan of salvation as such. This might be explained as the result of creation, apart from mankind, not being in active rebellion to Him and thus not needing His salvation.

What is needed to be saved is the knowledge of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ two millennia ago. This was difficult for the people living proximate to him to understand (thus a reason for the resistance of the Pharisees and the Athenians to accept him as Lord and Savior). This is even more true for us living today, some of who doubt Jesus’ very existence. Beyond the mere facts of the gospel, we must also have assurance that our sins are forgiven. Again, this was a difficult concept for those of the ancient Near East to rest in and more so for us today.

Without a clear revelation of how God is acting in history and in our individual lives, we cannot be saved. We need Scripture to flesh out what creation has taught us: that God exists and loves us. Without that explanation, we cannot be saved by mere natural revelation.