Thursday, June 14, 2012

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4

What are the implications of general revelation? Erickson in his book Christian Theology offers the following 6 points that don't need any comment from me.

1.  There is a common ground or a point of contact between the believer and the nonbeliever, or between the gospel and the thinking of the unbeliever. All persons have a knowledge of God. Although it may be suppressed to the extent of being unconscious or unrecognizable it is nonetheless there, and there will be areas of sensitivity to which the message may be effectively directed as a starting point. . . . 

2.  There is a possibility of some knowledge of divine truth outside the special revelation. We may understand more about he specially revealed truth by examining the general revelation. We understand in more complete detail the greatness of god, we comprehend more fully the image of God in the human when we attend tot he general revelation. This should be considered a supplement to, not a substitute for, special revelation. Sin's distortion of human understanding of the general revelation is greater the closer one gets to the relationship between God and humans. . . .

3.  God is just in condemning those who have never heard the gospel in the full and formal sense. No one is completely without opportunity. All have known God; if they have not effectually perceived him, it is because they have suppressed the truth. Thus all are responsible. . . .

4.  General revelation serves to explain the worldwide phenomenon of religion and religions. All persons are religious, because all have a type of knowledge of God. From this indistinct and perhaps even unrecognizable revelation, religions have been constructed which unfortunately are distortions of the true biblical religion.

5.  Since both creation and the gospel are intelligible and coherent revelations of God, there is harmony between the two, and mutual reinforcement of one by the other. The biblical revelation is not totally distinct from what is known of the natural realm.

6.  Genuine knowledge and genuine morality in unbelieving (as well as believing) humans are not their own accomplishments. Truth arrived at apart from special revelation is still God's truth. Knowledge and morality are not so much discovery as they are "uncovery" of the truth God has structured into his entire universe, both physical and moral. (198-199)

In a similar vein, Charles Ryrie, in his book Basic Theology, offers his own list of implications (what he calls "values") of general revelation that are worth comparing:

A. To display God's Grace

That God did not withdraw His grace after the first or any subsequent rebellion is itself grace. That He did not cease to communicate with mankind after people turned away from Him is no small wonder. That He continued to provide the means through general revelation whereby people can know something about the true God displays His continuing grace. Some are affected positively by that common grace, showing evidence of morality and often of seeking more truth.

B. To Give Weight to the Case for Theism

It is an overstatement to say that these arguments for the existence of God prove the existence of the God of the Bible. Although a number of truths about God are revealed through general revelation, many important thins will never be revealed through that means. But the questions general revelation raises and the answers it points to end support for the claims of theism as opposed to, say, atheism, agnosticism, or evolutionism.

C. To Justly Condemn Rejecters

These lines of evidence do place unregenerate men and women under responsibility to give some response. God intends hat people should be able to see that a mechanistic, atheistic, irrationalistic explanation is inadequate to account for the highly integrated world and the various facets of man. Mankind should respond by acknowledging that there has to be behind it all a living, powerful, intelligent, super-human Being.

If men do not make that minimal but crucial acknowledgment, but rather turn away and offer some other explanation, then God is just if He rejects them and does not offer more truth. The reaction of what is revealed in general revelation is sufficient to condemn justly. But this does not imply that the acceptance of general revelation is sufficient to effect eternal salvation. It is not, simply because there is no revelation of the atoning death of God's Son. (37-38)

For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy

For more:
Blogizomai - Repost | "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - The Top 5 Essential Works of Theology of the Past 25 Years
Reviews - "Doctrine"
Reviews - "The Good News We Almost Forgot
Reviews - "Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris
Reviews - "Heresy"
Reviews - "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
Reviews - "The Theology of the Reformers"
Blogizomai - Repost | Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology
logizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
Blogizomai - The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
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