Suggested Pre-Reading: The Faith Foundations overview
Of the seven aforementioned principles that are essential to Christianity, we will start by discussing the principle “God reveals His oracles”. If God does not reveal His oracles then we cannot talk about the other six principles, for they all derive from the notion that God has spoken to man.
“Divine revelation” is a term commonly used when referring to the oracles (revelation) given to man by God (divine). It is essential that belief in God and beliefs about God are based upon the revelation of God. If God has not spoken, and we only have our own ideas, we will end up in a state of confusion. The world offers too many opposing pictures of reality to make meaningful sense of God and His character. For example, one might say God is a God of love, if they grow up in a nice and tender family. Another might say God is a God of hate, if they grow up in an abusive and dysfunctional household. One might say God wants nothing but the best for us, if they grow up wealthy and healthy. Another might say God is spiteful and wants the worst for us, if they grow up poor and have a chronic disease. Therefore the importance of divine revelation cannot be overstated.
Now, to briefly digress, there is a mode of inquiry into the nature of God that can occur outside of divine revelation. It is known as natural theology and it relies primarily upon human reason to conclude certain truths about God. For example – through natural theology one can come to the understanding that if “good and bad” are to be legitimately objective concepts, then “a god” is necessary to impose the standards of good and bad. If only humans determine the standard, then it is subjective and subject to change in accordance with the whims of society. Therefore, if justice is to be real, if right and wrong are to be real, then a god is necessary. Despite these types of general things that can be concluded via natural theology, it is hard to make specific conclusions. For example, even if we know only God can impose standards of good and bad, how would we know what He considers to be good and what he considers to be bad? We could suggest certain things are bad, like murder or stealing, but we would be unable to come up with a comprehensive list. In order to know what God considers to be good or bad, He would have to tell us.
It is worth mentioning that if you believe in divine revelation then you believe in God. If God has spoken, a corollary is “God exists”. But the inverse is not true. If God exists, it does not necessarily follow that God has given oracles to men. This distinction is important to make, I believe, because one can use natural theology and all sorts of logical argumentation to prove the existence of God, but they have done very little to discuss the claims of divine revelation that exist in the world today. The Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita – these are all writings that make distinct claims about the nature of God and His interaction in human history. You can’t really use natural theology to judge between these three holy books. You actually have to review the claims of the books and examine what is being said.
If there is one thing to take from this introduction, it is this – divine revelation is the foundation for anything specific we could ever know or say about God.