July 6, 2014

Things That Can Be Seen and Things We Want To See, Part I

Recently I was pondering the doctrine of Total Depravity or the fact that men like myself are totally debased because of the Fall. That I am born into the world enslaved to sin and apart from the efficacious grace of God, I am utterly unable to choose to follow God, refrain from evil, or even freely accept the gift of salvation as it is offered. With this presupposition I also looked at how God reveals Himself to man in general. I pondered man’s perception of God. I even went so far as to think about what God has revealed about the nature of man and how man views himself through a cracked sinful lens. 

What I find is that the view of man is less than flattering and it is his own fault. Sadly, the view of God is often incorrect too because of the unflattering portrait revealed about man in the Scriptures. Man is warped and depraved. The God and mankind relationship. It is a sort of spiritual dichotomy. God can reveal his perfection but it is man's inability to correctly perceive God that limits man from seeing that perfection and truly coming to grips with God's holiness. It is often just a lofty abstract premise than we cannot get our arms around properly. As a matter of fact, most of mankind will often sit back and curse God in His perfection because God didn't do something for that person that they thought God should have. What kind of degenerate does it take to think like that? It takes a flawed reprobate with poor moral perception and blind spiritual vision. It takes a totally depraved human.

God reveals himself through Scripture and the world. General Revelation out in the world will not give us knowledge that will cause our redemption but we can certainly know that God exists by what we see in the complexities or simplicity of the universe.
Romans 1:19-20 ~ “…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” 
We know also that revelation of God and man’s reason was created in God’s image before the Fall of Creation in Genesis 3. Man was originally created in the image of perfection and uncorrupted by sin…but no more. John Calvin's writing summed up General Revelation before the Fall quite nicely in his Institutes of The Christian Religion.
“The natural order was that the frame of the universe should be the school in which we were to learn piety, and from it pass over to eternal life and perfect felicity.”   
In other words, before the fall God revealing Himself in nature was sufficient for man because man’s reasoning capabilities had not been diminished or damaged irreparably by the Fall and sin. After the Fall on the other hand all bets were off because as the Westminster Confession clearly states in VI, 2, man was…
 “…wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body” ~ Westminster Confession of Faith, VI. 2

In other words, man was totally depraved. The mind and reasoning therefore were totally tainted and distorted…but not totally annihilated. And that is where this post really begins to take off. As I have already quote Romans 1:19-20 it is clear that general revelation is continuing to this day. The question is then begged. Why? The verse above begins to answer the question. It is because continuing revelation allows even the non-believer no excuse to deny God (yet many do).

So when we put both together we have General Revelation that is distorted and insufficient to save us. So when someone says I believe in God. It is not enough. Why? Because that requires Special Revelation and that type of revelation of knowledge can only come through Scripture.  Nature gives a blurred image of God where Scripture is like putting on glasses to see God better. More accurately Scripture helps filter what we see and clears up the debris of sin and the wreckage of the Fall and the effect this wreckage has had on the human mind.

While a weakened human understanding stumbles around, it is not a totally blind to understanding. The Bible calls people that adhere to their base desires and those that embrace their sin “natural” men in 1 Corinthians 2. Yet these natural men tainted by the Fall and the immediate effects of recent sin can still present sharp and penetrating investigation into the things of this world. Along the same lines, God has allowed for the continued ability to investigate General Revelation since it is still given even today so we have things like physics, dialectic thought, mathematics and other scientific disciplines to aid in this task. Does this “science” therefore make itself incompatible with Christian belief? Of course not! Natural revelation is exactly what science examines when it examines and experiments with the physical nature of the universe!

[Continued in Part II]

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...