Interactive Gospel
- God Reveals Himself -
by Paul Hazelden


1.   Summary

We believe God has chosen to reveal Himself to the human race.

In one sense, if there is a God, He must be beyond our understanding. But we believe He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. We do not believe we fully know and understand God, but we do believe that we can truly know and understand what He chooses to reveal about Himself to us.

  1. I'll go along with that
  2. Please explain further
  3. I object to what you've said
  4. What are the alternatives?

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2.   Further Details

How does God reveal Himself? In traditional Christian thought, there are three main ways,

General Revelation describes the ways in which God makes Himself known through creation, and through the things we all share as humans.

Special Revelation describes the ways in which God makes Himself known directly - to and through selected individuals. The Bible records of many examples of special revelation, and is itself one of the ways in which God reveals Himnself.

Jesus of Nazareth is the final and fullest self-revelation of God. He is the final revelation, not in the sense of there being no revelation after Him, but in the sense that no later revelation can supercede the revelation through Jesus.

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3.   Objections

People occasionally suggest to me that God could not or would not reveal Himself to us.

  1. God must be incomprehensible
  2. Why would God be interested in us?

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3a.   God must be incomprehensible

If there is a God, He must be so incredibly different from us that we have no possiblity of understanding Him at all.

In a sense, this is right. The totality of God is surely incomprehensible. But this does not mean that we cannot understand anything about Him. It is possible to have true knowledge of God without having total knowledge.

On this level, God is no more incomprehensible than the people around us. We never know and understand everything there is to know about them, but this does not mean that we cannot know anything. The fact that people sometimes surprise us is proof that they are comprehensible, at least in part.

If God wishes us to know Him and relate to Him, it seems absurd to believe that He could not create us as capable of knowing Him.

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3b.   Why would God be interested in us?

A God who is so big and powerful, a God Who can create a universe, would surely not be interested in one hominoid species on a small plant orbiting an ordinary star in one of millions of galaxies.

Firstly, we do not know whether or not we are the only intelligent species in the universe. And if not, there is no reason to suppose that God is more interested in the human race than any of the other intelligent species out there. We believe He is interested in us, not that He is interested in us to the exclusion of interest in any other species.

And secondly, is there any reason to suppose that God in not interested in any part of His creation. If He cared enough to create us, why should He not take a continuing interest in us?

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4.   Alternatives

If we assume there is a God, there are only a few possible alternatives.

  1. God cannot reveal Himself
  2. God chooses not to reveal Himself
  3. God chooses to mislead us

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4a.   God cannot reveal Himself

This is a logical possibility. But I have never heard anyone seriously arguing that God created a universe that He was then incapable of interacting with. It would seem a somewhat pointless activity!

Nobody has offered me any evidence that this possibility is true. I am not sure even what would constitute evidence for this. In fact, it seems to me that this position, by its own definition, precludes the possibility of any evidence existing to support it.

Functionally, if God set everything going and then cannot do any more, this is equivalent to there being no God. God is, in this scenario, no more than a name we give to the 'first cause'.

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4b.   God chooses not to reveal Himself

So, perhaps God can reveal Himself to us, but simply chooses not to do so.

This is slightly more plausible than the first alternative, but suffers in exactly the same way from the lack of any possible evidence.

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4c.   God chooses to mislead us

This is a scary option! It sounds remarkably close to the theory of the bad God. I find it hard to understand a God who actively misleads us concerning His character, other than as being evil. God and truth are so inextricably bound together.

Descartes recognised that if you believe this possibility, then you have no rational grounds for believing anything else at all. A God who decides to mislead us is surely capable of misleading us in every area: our experiences and memory, as well as our reasoning and beliefs. This way, quite literally, leads to madness.

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Copyright © 1999-2005 Paul Hazelden
 
http://hazelden.org.uk/ig/ig_god_reveals.htm was last updated 3 May 2008
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