On Revelation and God and us
The word revelation is derived from the Latin revelare, “to uncover” or “to unveil.”
In common parlance, revelation refers to our awareness or knowledge of something or someone that comes to us suddenly, surprisingly, proverbially, “out of the blue” or via another’s word or deed. Hence, revelation does not refer to a situation or circumstance when we, by application of our reason in research or study, come to our own awareness and knowledge.
This is an essential distinction when the matter is the relationship between God and us. For when theology(1) uses the term revelation, it always connotes the initiative of God in choosing to reveal, to uncover, to unveil God’s Self, truly, to speak a revelatory word of God’s Self (meaning both who and what God is and God’s way and will).
And whenever God speaks, whether, for example –
As a command to Moses – “Moses, Moses…I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt…I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt”(2) or
As a call to Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…(to) go to all to whom I send you and (to) speak whatever I command you”(3) or
In the person and life of Jesus – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.(4) –
it evokes, provokes a human response of faith(5) that seeks to appropriate (understand) and apply (use) God’s word in daily living.
In this, God’s revelation and the human response to God’s revelation, is the meaning of the “and” of God and us. To put this another way, unless and until God speaks not only is there no revelation, but more principally, we have no one to whom or nothing to which we can answer.
(1) See my blog post, Even More Less Random Thoughts, this time…On Theology, February 16, 2019
(2) Exodus 3.4, 7a, 10
(3) Jeremiah 1.5, 7
(4) John 1.1, 14
(5) This human response to God’s Self-revelation of faith, as I wrote previously (More Less Randomly Ordered Opinions, this time…On Faith, February 15, 2019) “embraces my whole self; not only my intellect, but also my emotions, what I feel, and my will, my power to choose to commit myself to God (in relationship).” My response to God in faith, therefore, is greater than my response to God in belief, that is, that I believe (intellectually assent to the proposition) that God exists. For I can believe that God exists (indeed, that you, whoever you are in the world, exist), but have no relationship with God (and with you).
2 thoughts on “Still More Less Randomly Ordered Opinions, this time…”
Wow!!! Thank you for this distinction Paul!! It’s critically important and I don’t think I’ve ever thought about “revelations” in the way you explained.
I have had “revelations” a lot, where I’d meet someone or help someone and feel as if I had actually met God. And it always spurred me to action because of my faith, as if God himself had directed me. BUT I absolutely understand the difference as you’ve just explained it.
Loretta, what you describe – “I have had ‘revelations’ a lot, where I’d meet someone or help someone and feel as if I had actually met God” – precisely falls within that realm I noted of “our awareness or knowledge of something or someone that comes to us suddenly, surprisingly, proverbially, ‘out of the blue’ or via another’s word or deed.” Yep, I believe these experiences are those of encountering our Self-revealing God!