October 26, 2015
I have been away for the past couple of weeks preparing for and taking part in my daughter Alissa’s wedding. It was a wonderful time but complicated by the fact that it took place in Omaha, NE. I’m back now, a little weary and ready to get away for a week with Ellen. That will have to wait for a bit I’m afraid. ANYWAY… enough about me.
One of the things that differentiates one Seminary from another are the things taught in theology classes. I won’t go into any detail at this point but suffice it to say it’s hard to believe that we can all fall under the category of “Christian” and yet have so many different and seeming contradictory and irresolvable convictions.
I remember my first day in Theology 101. We learned about the word “revelation.” Specifically our professor lectured on the ways that God reveals Himself to His creation. You may or may not know that there are essentially two types of revelation: general and special. Let me begin with special revelation since its actually general revelation that I want to focus on in a bit. Special revelation refers to the ways that God reveals Himself through very specific and personal ways, such as: voice, prayer, prophecy, the Bible, miraculous events, etc. General revelation is a bit more difficult to pin down.
Before I go much further down this road allow me to tell you what happened last week. I was sitting in my living room looking out the window. We have a maple tree in our front yard and the leaves were the most spectacular yellow color. Every year they are that same color in October and November no matter what. I was reminded of the seasons and the cycle of life and death that we see every year on this part of the planet. (It’s one of the things I missed most about my 3 years spent in Hawaii.) And that caused me to remember general revelation. “What” you say? So, what are we talking about?
Simply this: General revelation is the way that God reveals Himself through nature and history and even through our conscience. God has built into creation ways of “seeing” Him through the world and how our Universe operates. There is order and beauty to creation that all can see whether one knows of or believes in God or not. Even some in remote parts of the world today worship nature and the things of creation… sun, moon, trees, rocks and so on. This type of revelation does not specifically show or reveal to us the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus, but it certainly points us in that direction. We can’t make a very effective argument for the personal God of the Judeo-Christian faith through general revelation. But one can certainly make an argument for an Intelligent Designer. Again, look at the world. Consider your own body. Does all of this happen on its own through trial and error? I know the argument is, “Well, given a bajillion years, anything is possible.” I respond to that simply by saying, “It takes as much faith, if not more, to believe in no God or designer as it does to believe in a personal God or Intelligent Designer.” I kind of lean toward the latter but, that’s just me. Either way, “faith” is involved.
On that note I would encourage you if you have access to movies on television to watch, “March of the Penguins.” It is not intended to be a religious film for sure. But one can hardly view that movie and not come away saying, “There is no way those penguins could figure all those things out!” Seriously, I guarantee you will find it very entertaining as well as fascinating.
So when you look out the window or drive down the street today (unless you are one of the unfortunate ones to be in the South and miss all this beauty) be reminded that God is a God of beauty and order.