Monday, February 20, 2006

Revelation Versus Discovery

How would you define "general revelation?" Wouldn't you think that it is revelation that is general in its content? Sounds like that could be correct. Wrong. So what is it general in? General in its audience. That's right. But replacing the word "audience" with "content" has opened up a whole new realm of employment, spawned hundreds of new books of psychology, and also fooled a great many with the perversion of truth. This is a major issue that has, in many ways, flown under the radar. Let me tell you what's the problem.

Revelation by nature is undiscoverable. When I say that to someone, he often says, "Huh?" Think about it. Revelation must be revealed. If it must be revealed, we can't discover it. If we discovered it, it wasn't revelation. Revelation is unveiled by God, uncovered by Him alone. God alone pulls away the covering. That doesn't mean that everyone understands or thinks about what God has revealed. However, everyone can and should. What God wants man to know, man doesn't know, not because God hasn't given the opportunity, but because man has rejected it. This is the essence of Romans 1:18-27. Verses nineteen and twenty synthesize it well: "That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." The "they" is everyone. Every person is a "thing that is made." Every single person has had revealed to him what God wants him to know. Some grab hold of this knowledge; others don't. When someone doesn't, it's because he exalted his knowledge above God's, becoming vain in his imagination.

So what's the big deal about changing "audience" into "content?" Men have attacked general revelation by altering it into anything that man discovers. If a "behavioral psychologist" watches repeatedly the conditioned responses of humans or animals, he can say that the knowledge he gained through discovery was general revelation. It isn't. It is discovery. It might be valuable information gained through discovery, but it isn't something that God has revealed. Now a whole new branch of psychology, Christian psychology, exists based upon the simple twisting of this one definition. These Christian psychologists or psychiatrists offer their mix of opinion or discovery on par with the Bible, justifying it by calling it general revelation. If people don't know the difference, they might just accept this as true. Many have. People often are looking for help and with a bunch of letters after his name, the Christian psychiatrist looks like he might be the place. Sometimes you'll hear someone say, "All truth is God's truth." That's, well, not true. God's truth is revealed by Him. Something someone observes in a laboratory can't rise to the level of what God said. Since we are sanctified by truth (Jn. 17:17), and sanctification is God's purpose for our being here (Rom. 8:28, 29), you can see what harmful results come from confusion on this definition. At best, all discovery and human observation must be submitted to biblical criteria to test their truthfulness. By doing so we keep all discovery in its proper place, secondary to and subservient to everything that God has revealed.


Anonymous said...

Good post! Secular psychologists can make observations but they have no framework of truth to make accurate evaluations of what they have seen. God has given us much light on human behavoir in His Word and He has included infallible evaluations.

By the way, where do you get the great illustrations that you use in your posts?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Jack. Google images.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

In my understanding, the "All truth is God's truth" statement is meant to say that, regardless of who (Christian or secular) has discovered, propounded, whatever the idea, if it is true Christians should believe it and "use" it. In other words, if an unbeliever popularizes truth, that doesn't mean he owns it. If it is true, it is God's.

Is this a different context than what you are referring to here?

Kent Brandenburg said...

I believe underlying this popular statement is the general revelation conflict, raising the level of "2 + 2 = 4" to revelation. I don't assume everyone takes it that way, but I think it is there, nonetheless. What is the locus classicus of this "all truth" statement, which would shed light on what people intend it to mean. I don't know.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I believe it was Frank Gabelien(sp?) who coined the term recently. See the book The Pattern of God's Truth. He took the idea from John Chrysostom

Kent Brandenburg said...

I googled the phrase tonight, not having looked at all on line. The first article was:

It agreed with my estimation.

Same thing here:

This guy is the same thing:

I thought this one was pretty good too by a Christian M.D.:

You'll find people who go the other direction. I'll look at Gabelien, but I think it is worth considering these articles as saying the same thing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Here is an article that is saying what I was warning about: