Imatges de pÓgina

redeeming goodness, presents neither the Godhead nor the manhood gloriously mirrored to view in the pages of revelation, and obliterates all the conditions of religious worship, love, and hope.



Seeing Revelation to be the principal and supreme source of Christian theology and what this means in relation to other authority, we must seek a definite understanding of its nature and modes.

1. What is revelation, in the sense in which the term is applied to the Bible as that source? The essential conception of it is that of a supernatural and historical disclosure by God of Himself and of truth needful for the moral and spiritual well-being and destiny of men. It covers the act or process of disclosing as well as the disclosure given by the act. The New Testament word for it is átokálufs, a laying open of what was

αποκάλυψις, a covered (Rev. i. 1), and its import is found in such passages as Matt. xvi. 17; 1 Cor. ii. 10; Gal. i. 12. In its basal significance it expresses the historical movement of God's eternal purpose to provide and make known the way of salvation from the state of sin into which humanity has fallen, and thereby again to enable it to realize the true life and goal to which its creation looked. In its central reality it is God's self-manifestation in the person and work of Christ, including all the special preparations leading up to that, and the succeeding apostolic teachings which have unfolded its redemptive and saving import. It consists, therefore, in that whole providential administration and multiform instruction in which God has made known Himself, His will and grace, and human duty, opportunity, and destiny, through which Christianity has been established in the world, and of which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the permanent records.

That we may see this revelation in its right light we must recall some of its distinct characteristics and relations.

First, it is a special revelation. It is such by the very relation in which it appears. Both by its initial statement of a lapse of human life into a condition of sin, and by its whole declared redemptive or soteriological aim, it necessarily appears as a movement or stage of divine manifestation beyond that generic revelation which God's creational work at once gave, and evermore gives, of His being, thought, power, and will. It has its own distinct and definitive place. There is, unquestionably, a primary, fundamental, perpetual self-revelation of God in the cosmos itself, in the soul of man, in the intelligence of the race.

God has not left Himself without declaration or clear witness. The universe reveals Him, everywhere from atoms to worlds, forever speaking into reason's ear. A general law of divine revelation is thus to be recognized through creation and history. This is to be neither denied nor ignored. It is rather to be emphasized and built upon in forming our conception of the Christian revelation. For the special revelation rests in and upon the general revelatory principle, and exhibits its advance to meet the conditions presented in the lapsed humanity for whose welfare the cosmic existence and order are meant. Thus, though not separated from generic theistic revelation through nature, it is yet distinguished from it by relations and features peculiar to itself. God, indeed, was not taken by surprise by humanity's guilty abuse of the high endowment of freedom and its selfenslavement to sin. He foreknew, and always truly knows, both the world and humanity according to their historical progression and conditions; and the revelatory progress, which belongs to providential administration, attends and keeps pace with their developing conditions and needs. The divine revealing of creation passes on into the divine revealing of administrational love and activity—both connected with and looking to the same moral purpose of the world, the first already disclosing that purpose, and the second conserving it and holding open the possibility of its attainment. And this special revelation, reflecting and explaining distinctively God's providential goodness and redemptive provision, must necessarily exhibit peculiar characteristics and adaptations. What revelation would have been, had there been only a sinless development of mankind, we cannot tell. Possibly it would have been simply the creation itself, in its ever freshly illuminated pages, disclosing the thought, the wisdom, the power, and the will of God. Possibly it might have embraced progressively instituted relations of life and fellowship with God, opening evermore clearer and more beatific vision of His character and love-affording richer and richer views of truth. But lapsed into an alienated state and sinful development, the abnormal condition and the need of recovery called for something more and different. As to humanity itself, its self-made rupture from the divine fellowship and consequent darkening of spiritual intuition left the creational revelation less effective, while the ensnarement in evil made more light absolutely necessary. As to God, only further self-disclosure, beyond creative manifestations, could exhibit Him in the fullness of those attributes by whose vision the alienation might be overcome and recovery secured. Though creation itself was a work of love, it was more distinctively a disclosure of wisdom and power than of goodness or mercy. It invited no return by assurance of forgiveness. It showed no provision for the regeneration of humanity. God must be seen in other than creative attributes. He must add a revelation of His grace, in soteriological economy and teachings, which shall maintain the order of the world's progress according to His “eternal purpose" of goodness to the race. The Christian revelation, therefore, though grounded in generic revelation, is special. It has an aim continuous with that of the divine creational thought and goodness, but becomes specialized as the advancing providence of care and love which holds the historic advancement of humanity to its rightful opportunity and goal.

And it is also supernatural. It must be this too, by its very relation. There is not the faintest reason to think of the divine activity as exhausted and ceasing with the creative form alone. God is Sustainer and Ruler as well as Creator. The deistic notion of His absolute transcendence, in which, after creation, He takes no further concern for creaturely welfare, is as irrational in philosophy as it is contrary to the Scriptures and to the whole moral and religious interest of the world. The self-disclosure through the cosmos, both physical and moral, reveals Him only in His creatorship. This creatorship issues in a given constitution of nature. This natural constitution furnishes only natural revelation-of God as the author of nature, and of His way in nature. But it has no revelatory voice of redemptive goodness and help, no word of information as to the spirit and order of

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