Re: The state of suburban theology

From: Howard J. Van Till <>
Date: Tue Jun 22 2004 - 09:23:48 EDT

I remarked:

>> I am dubious about the distinction between "general revelation" and
>> "special revelation." To put it very broadly, it reminds me far too much
>> of the distinction between "supernatural" and "natural" action categories,
>> which I and many others on this list find theologically problematic.

George replied:

> I don't see that there needs to be such a correlation. God is active in
> the lives of all people & the development of all cultures, not in place of
> natural processes but in & with them (i.e., "naturally.").

I agree, but my suspicion is that the majority of folks in the pew on Sunday
have a different set of concepts in mind.

> But one of the
> things we come to realize is that, because of QM & chaos theory, God can act
> in accord with the laws of physics & still have some freedom in how to act.
> That being the case, I don't see in principle why God could not act in
> distinctively revelatory ways in the history of Israel but not in the
> histories of Greece, China, or Mesoamerica.

I believe that God has been experienced in revelatory ways by all cultures,
not only in the history of Israel as reported (from human perception) in the
Hebrew Scriptures.

...skip a bit...

George continues:

> If God is going to act in distinctively revelatory ways (as above), it's
> not much of a stretch to think that God would also act to bring about
> reasonably reliable (which is not to say necessarily infallible) & enduring
> witnesses to such revelation.

Perhaps "not much of a stretch," but a humanly-crafted (and therefore
fallible) inference nonetheless.

I had said:
>> If "special revelation" is equated to what we find in the biblical text
>> (as often was done in my Calvinist upbringing) then, yes, I would be inclined
>> to re-label it as "selected human apprehensions of God."

George replied:
> I would _not_ equate the Bible with special revelation, at least not in
> a primary sense. The Bible is witness to, & earliest interpretation of,
> revelation.

I agree with you here. But that puts us in the minority portion of the
Christian community. Be careful, George, of the company you keep :)

George again:

> I recall a bumper sticker I saw in Ames on a car driven by some
> Iranian students: "The Qur'an - God's ultimate revelation." Unfortunately
> the response of too many Christians to something like that is to say "The
> Bible - God's ultimate revelation." Jesus Christ is God's ultimate
> revelation & the Bible is witness to that revelation.

I would modify that last line to read: "For Christians, Jesus Christ is
God's ultimate revelation & the Bible is witness to that revelation."

Thanks for the conversation.

Received on Tue Jun 22 09:57:07 2004

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