Re: The state of suburban theology

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Jun 21 2004 - 12:27:24 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard J. Van Till" <>
To: "George Murphy" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 8:34 AM
Subject: Re: The state of suburban theology

> On 6/20/04 2:39 PM, "George Murphy" <> wrote:
> > Again I think that a difference more fundamental than what we may have
> > about the biblical text has to do with whether there really has been
> > anything corresponding to the traditional idea of "special revelation."
> > is what has been regarded as that just "selected human apprehensions of
> > God" - i.e., instances of general revelation (or what has been perceived
> > such) that some people have been particularly aware of?
> Good question. But before I respond it would be helpful to me to know your
> definitions of both "special revelation" and "general revelation,"
> reference to the manner in which both the means and content of these two
> categories of revelation might differ.

        1st a caveat: I'm dubious myself about the concept of "general
revelation" but make use of it here in the sense in which it's understood by
those who do find it of value.
        General revelation is supposed to convey knowledge of God (personal
or propositional) in a way that is, in principle, available to everyone
everywhere. In that sense it would be like the experience of the world that
is assumed by science. Special revelation, OTOH, is only supposed to be
received by certain people in certain situations, and is available to others
only through the witness of the original recipients. E.g., some would
interpret the 1st part of Ps.19 ("The heavens declare the glory of God...")
as speaking about general revelation & the 2d part (which praises "the law
of YHWH") as having to do with special revelation - i.e., that which took
place at Sinai.
        As far as content is concerned, I think Pollard's distinction is
helpful: General revelation involves an "I-It" relationship while special
revelation is an "I-Thou" encounter.
        E.g., one might say that general experience of the world & knowledge
of things like natural selection reveal that "God suffers with the world."
But unless one has a more fleshed out concept of God, that's rather
abstract. How does an "It" suffer. OTOH, to say that the cross of Christ
reveals that God suffers with the world means that God suffers in some way
that is at least analogous to our suffering, because the claim is based on
the human suffering & death of Jesus.
        But it can be more complicated than that, because the cross of
Christ can be adduced as one example of a general truth - as Whitehead,
e.g., seems to do.
        I've dealt with these questions in greater detail in Chapters 2 & 3
of _The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross_.


        I discussed this in Chapter 2 of _The Cosmos
Received on Mon Jun 21 12:47:33 2004

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