Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TA'ing Systematics 1 and "the critique of revelation"...

This quarter, I am TA'ing Systematic Theology 1 at Fuller Northwest. Tonight I will be presenting part of the lecture on the doctrine of revelation. I am examining the critiques of revelation, and here is a bit of what I will be discussing:

Instead of God's grace being the central and most important question for theology, one critique of the doctrine of revelation is that revelation per se becomes the most important question. So, instead of asking "What does it mean to be saved, or experience God's grace?" theologians become focused upon the question, "How can I say that I know God?"

Now, it may seem that these are just two ways of saying the same thing, but they differ in a very important way: the latter question ("How can I say that I know God?") is concerned primarily with establishing knowledge of a relationship with God, while the former ("What does it mean to experience God's grace?") is primarily concerned with the relationship itself. It would be similar to the difference between asking, "How do I know that he or she loves me?" and "What does it mean to be in love?" If you spend all your time asking whether or not someone loves you, you're most likely missing out on the experience of actually being in love. The real question is "What does it mean to be in love?" and then stepping into that, even if you aren't completely certain about it.

And, I think this brings up another really important point, which is: Love, grace, everything that God reveals to us is epistemologically uncertain. But that's ok – as finite human beings, we aren't able to have it any other way. In fact, I'm not sure we would want it any other way! How could we desire love if there wasn't the possibility of life without love? Why would we care to know God if there wasn't some recognition of the possibility of life without God?

We do not believe in the truth of God's revelation because we are certain of it, we believe God's revelation is true, and that is the faith that sustains us in our uncertainty. And, here's a fun question to think about: If there was no uncertainty, could there be genuine faith?

1 comment:

SuJ'n said...

Thank you for this thoughtful analysis, Geoff.