Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Revelation, the act.

There are many ways that God uses to reveal himself to us. I would like to extend the meaning of the verb reveal here; more than just information, for me, to reveal is to manifest one's existence.

First and foremost, God revealed himself to the creation, through his creation, the act, the design, among many other things. The psalmist wrote: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1 NIV). In accordance, an apostle also wrote: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made." (Romans 1:20 NIV)

After the creation, God might have spoken to us face to face as implied in the Genesis chapter three narrative, depending on interpretation. Regardless, there was a significant degree of directness never experienced by living humans after the fall, save Jesus. So in the garden in Eden, God revealed himself to us, as in to disclose, in all his holiness, majesty and glory. However, that mode of revelation is not applicable to us anymore. Instead, God spoke to select few humans, closely resembling prophetic manners:

  • Cain (Genesis 4:3)
  • Noah (Genesis 6:13)
  • The Patriarch, beginning with Abram. (Genesis 12:1)
  • Moses, Ballaam, Samuel and the prophets.
  • Aaron, Eli and the priests
  • The apostles
(God indeed spoke to Jesus, more than just in prophetic manner though he is a prophet. But the list only contain creations.)

All these things, and others, are recorded in the bible. Beyond creation and prophecy, God also reveals through visions (Genesis 15:1), dreams (Genesis 20:3), conscience (Romans 2:15) and other personal experiences. Nevertheless, the bible is special in its place as a form of revelation. It is inerrant, infallible and even parts of it is sufficient for salvation (Acts 8:26-40).

When it comes to the sufficiency of the scripture, I always ask, sufficient for what? Sufficient for salvation, definitely. Sufficient for our curiosity, definitely not. As often coined, the bible is neither a science book nor a history book. Most importantly, it never claimed itself as either.

Through all the mean above and combined with gifts such as reason, more things could be revealed to us, just like how it has been done to the church fathers: Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin and hopefully, Michael Patton. Their writings, just like the bible, just like all other revelations, are valid and useful. And yet, they are not sufficient source of revelation, not inerrant, not infallible, cannot contradict the scripture, they have limited authority and are not to be the ultimate source of revelation.

I believe that is what sola scriptura means.


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