How Do We Do Theology?
God has revealed Himself to Us!
We could never know God if God had not chosen to reveal Himself to those whom He had created. God chose to disclose Himself by communicating certain truths about Him which could not be known any other way. God’s revelation of Himself has come in single acts and over a very long period of time.
Experts have chosen to classify this revelation of God to his creatures two ways; general revelation and special revelation.
General Revelation of God
God has revealed Himself in nature, history, and even in the human conscience. God communicates this revelation of some part of Himself though the means of natural events that occur in creation and/or history.
The Revelation of God in Creation
Creation testifies to the conviction that God exists. The universe and all that is in it testify of the manifestation of the power, glory, divinity and even the goodness of God. (See Psalms 8:1, 3; 19:1-2; Isaiah 40:12-14, 26; Acts 14:15-17; Romans 1:19, 20)
The shortcoming of the revelation of God in creation (as if one can classify any shortcoming the revelation of God) is that it leaves man with no excuse of seeking reconciliation with that God which has been revealed, but the revelation of God in creation is insufficient for salvation. The purpose of the general revelation of God in creation is to show mankind that God exists and serves to spur man onward in a search for more complete revelation of God.
The Revelation of God in History
We find in the Psalms a very interesting concept that demonstrates that God is involved in history. The fortunes, the kingdoms, and the success or failures of kings is in the hand of the Lord. (Psalms 75:6, 7)
We find in the New Testament that God has determined the time, place, the limitations and set man to know God. (Acts 17:26, 27)
We note that God has revealed Himself in the history of the Israel. From the very calling of Abram until the present God has been active in the life and fortunes of the nation of Israel.
God is involved in history. Whether he is setting up a king or tearing a king and kingdom or whether God is determining the time, place, and purpose of your birth, God has revealed Himself within the confines of what we know as history.
The Revelation of God in Conscience
The human conscience is discriminative and impulsive. The conscience determines whether an action or an attitude is in harmony with a moral standard. The conscience then tells us whether to do the thing that is in harmony with the conscience or to refuse to do that which is in conflict with the human conscience. The prohibitions, commands, decisions and even urges would have no authority if it did not come from a higher and authoritative source. The conscience reveals the fact there is an absolute standard of right and wrong in the universe. Therefore there is a Supreme Law-giver who sets this standard of right and wrong within His own person.
Special Revelation of God
Special revelation of God is those acts of God where He makes Himself and His Truths know at special times to specific people. Some of these areas in which God had revealed Himself are no longer viable means of knowing God today. They served their purpose in their time and place but as the transitional period came to a close, the revelation of God through inspiration and inscripturation was completed there was no need for special revelation and it ceased. Having said that, let’s take a look at some avenues of special revelation:
A miracle is an unusual event that is accompanied by some useful activity that reveals the presence and power of God.
God has chosen at various times to reveal Himself through the means of a prophet or prophetess. For example Christ’s birth, genealogy, tribe, lineage, place of birth, anointed with the Holy Spirit, a death, burial, and resurrection were all foretold.
The general revelation of God did not lead man to a relationship with God. It didn’t even give mankind a clear apprehension of God or His character. Jesus Christ has become the center of both history and creation, God doesn’t speak audibly any longer, He doesn’t speak through Thomas Manton, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Paul, or through the healing of blind eyes, dropsy, deafness, and lameness. He revealed even more of Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is called “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15.)
We have a revelation of the character and nature of God in the Bible. This is a clear revelation and it is even a perfect one since the bible is inerrant (means not only does it not contain errors, it is incapable of containing errors [in the original autographs].) The scriptures work together with creation, history, and conscience as it records the full extent of God’s revelation to us. The Christian is able to go to the Scriptures and find them to be the only supreme and infallible source for theology.
We are not left in the dark about God and His character or nature. God has revealed Himself. Theology grows out the fact that God has revealed Himself to His creatures. God revealed Himself through general and special revelation in order to reveal all that He determined in His good will that we need to know at this time.
To be continued…