Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Revelation V. Humanism

The existence of God is really a cognition of the human soul, like the cognition of matter or of ourselves. It is so inseparable from the development of reason that wherever we find a man, we find one who is not a stranger to the existence of God. The real problem of Theology is not to prove that a God exists, as if she were instructing the ignorant or imparting a new truth to the mind, but to show the grounds upon which we are already in possession of the truth. It is to vindicate an existing faith, and not to create a new one. The belief itself is universal - as universal as the belief in the soul. However men may differ on other points, they agree in this.

- James Henry Thornwell

We seek to attain our way to God by right thinking. This is wrong. Why? Our thinking, our very best thinking, cannot reveal God -- but, good news! - God has already revealed himself (Romans 1:18ff.)!

Our main problem is not possession of the truth, but suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18).

To see how easily we go astray, consider the fundamentalist v. liberal confrontation in the 1930 in America. The liberals, based on their presuppositions about the world, began to question the Bible: Is this really true? The word of God? Especially trouble to the liberal was the miraculous. It didn't seem possible, based on how they viewed reality, that a baby could be born of a virgin. In response, the fundamentalist, sought to defend the word of God. This is true, they said, and we will prove it. And so, they marched out a litany of reasoned essays and books about the trustworthiness and reliability of the Bible. The fundamentalist mindset continues to our day with all manner of books seeking to prove various things about the character of the Bible (The Bible is infallible), or about the character of Jesus (He is either Lord, or Lunatic), or the events in the Bible (Evidence That Demands A Verdict!). 

However, the fundamentalist doctrine of revelation is rationalistic. It is based on human reason, and therefore, just another form of Humanism. The fundamentalist was concerned at every point to “prove” the Bible is the revelation of God.

There are problems with this.

First, the fundamentalist definition of the word of God, and the whole concept of revelation, was way too limited. The fundamentalist put himself in the corner of autodidactic inspiration of the individual words of scripture, and confined the whole idea of revelation to this. Certainly, God's revelation includes scripture, but not only scripture. The the truth is: God is not shy. God is a revealing God; God delights to manifest himself: he delights to let the glories of his Person sparkle. The truth is, God is constantly talking. Even in his wrath, he is revelatory (Romans 1:18, "The wrath of God is being revealed...). 

His distance is a certain kind of closeness. 

His silence is a certain kind of speaking.

We don't have to do a manhunt for God; He is constantly in our face. 

The second problem? The fundamentalist presumed that the speech of God depended on man, i.e. man must, before believing or bowing, PROVE that God speaks. As if, God's words needed the validation of the word of man. The fundamentalist tried to speak for God; as if, God couldn't speak for himself. The fundamentalist sought, by human reason, to defend God. As if, God couldn't defend himself. The fundamentalist, ironically, leaves God out of the picture, and even shrinks God. The fundamentalist had a limited sense of God’s revelation because they defined it as, "what man has received."

They defined it, in other words, in Humanist terms.

The fact is: God has revealed himself, whether we receive it or not.

Revelation is NOT what God gives to some men to give to other men. Revelation does not depend on man AT ALL.Revelation is, instead, what God has given, all by his lonesome, apart from human aid. Revelation is, not what man has merited by his reason, but what God his GIVEN, freely, and graciously, even to (especially to) his worst and least deserving enemies.

Revelation is not what man does; it is, instead, what God does.  Something, God has always been doing; something God is still doing, at present, via “what has been made (Romans 1:20)." Revelation is what God does; it is not, therefore, uncertain, unreliable, dubious, or murky.What God does, he does surely. God has made sure that it is utterly clear and obvious that he is there SO THAT man would be without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Revelation is not what man seeks, but what man suppresses; not what man runs to, but what man runs from (Romans 1:18, 20).

The letters of revelation are written in the sky in huge blinking neon letters, in PLAIN sight (Romans 1:19). We look at the sky every day and miss it – not because it is missing – but because we are blind as bats.

The truth that man is naturally BLIND is related to doctrine of revelation: the problem is not – as fundamentalist and modernist assumed – with revelation. The problem is with us. The problem is: we are blind.

This problem is not scientific; it is not rational; it is MORAL: we suppress the truth. This problem is WITH US, and it is a willful aggressive rebellion against the plain truth. This has to do with our sinful will. We believe what we want to believe. We harbor pride, and press on, in rebellion against God, in spite of revelation.

The fundamentalist fought for the truth, “God has revealed himself,” as if this truth were in doubt. As if, it needed to be proven. As if. its proof depended on man. The fundamentalist said, "I know God has spoken because I KNOW," i.e. I reasoned it out. The modernist higher critic fought against this. He said, "I don't know what, if anything, God has spoken because I DON'T KNOW." They both depended on human reason. They fought against each other without realizing they were on the same side, both FIGHTING against God. The fundamentalist and the modernist were enemies, in theory -- but, not in reality. There war was a Civil War. They used the same method (rationalism), and they fought for the same side (humanism).

When the fundamentalist entered the fray, he’d conceded, at the beginning, “Perhaps God has not revealed himself.” He conceded this when he presumed to prove God had spoken. He was, in his heart of hearts, no different from the modernist. He questioned the reliability of God's revelation. Only, he came up on the side of "reliable." The fundamentalist, therefore, gave the only ground that was ever worth defending: he measured God's reason by human reasons. When, in fact, human reason is worthless.

God’s revelation cannot, and never will be, proved by human logic or theorems. A man tryin to prove God exists is akin (on an infinite scale) to a flea trying to prove a man exists. We humans are not qualified to prove God. We are not qualified to judge the Bible as "inspired," or not. We are not qualified to judge God's word as true, or not. When we approach the Bible, standing above it, talking about how we can "prove it," we are acting as if we were God. Who are we to judge God? Our words do not prove God's; no, but God's words, by grace, prove ours. 

How can I put this? God doesn't need you (or me). He is not dependent on us. He is not quivering in the heavens, hoping with all his might, that we will rise up and save him from the atheists and doubters. God isn't served by human hands (Acts 17:25); God is the one who gives us life and breath and everything else. God is not teetering, leaning wearily on human hands; He is the one who created our hands. Do you really think he needs them to prop him up? God is, similarly, not dependent on human reason. He is the one who gives us everything, including our reason. How ridiculous, then, that we would try to use our gift of reason to prove/disprove the GIVER. 

God’s revelation is as plain as the sun in the sky. It is madness and irreverence to question it. To question it (like the Fundamentalist) is to deny  it, and continue to suppress it. The fundamentalist made the same mistake as the modernist of his day. He used the same means (human reason), but only declared a different result.

The same ridiculous method is employed constantly. I've often heard,“Prove that God exists by the scientific method, and then I'll believe.” My first answer is: Fine, but first, I want you to prove the scientific method BY the scientific method. If truth can only be ascertained through the scientific method, then the scientific method is, itself, unverifiable. The scientific method can't even prove itself, much less God.

Seriously? Prove God by the scientific method? That's folly. God stands above the scientific method, and whatever is true of that method is only true because of the existence of a TRUE God. 

God doesn't need the scientific method. He doesn't need the fundamentalist. He doesn't need ANYONE to prove He is there. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need me. On the contrary, WE NEED HIM. God isn't a question in a human debate; God IS. And, that's all there is to it. 

Our situation as human being is not a life of perplexity about the questionable existence of a possible God. Our situation is being confronted with the definite certain reality of living God.

The dilemma is NOT: is God there? But, rather, Will I bow?

The dilemma is NOT: has God spoken? But, rather, Will I listen?

No comments:

Post a Comment