Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Intersection of Revelation and Apple Pie

A Credo is a statement of faith and is Latin for "I Believe." The last big assignment in seminary was to write our own personal Credo. It was quite the daunting task. The combination of putting your belief in writing along with the peer and instructor review process was both intimidating and fun at the same time.

While it is a statement of faith it needs to be so much more than that. It is not just head knowledge but it is also foot knowledge. It should shape how I live my life. And what turned out to be even more difficult than putting my beliefs in writing in order to go through the review process was when I came across something that I realized just did not make it down to my feet often enough. It was always a very good reminder that I am still a work in progress. The end of seminary is not the end of the journey. It is merely one step along the way.

As I was going through the process of writing my Credo I found it quite helpful to research how others - both individual people as well as organizations - formatted their Statements of Faith. It was interesting to figure out what others thought was important to include and in what order they organized the information.

A lot that I came across started with some form of epistemology - or how we know what we know. In terms of Christianity this usually takes the form of Revelation. Revelation is how God reveals himself to humanity and we tend to understand the concept of revelation almost instinctively. We can know something about another person in one of three basic ways.

For example, let’s say you wanted to get to know something about me. One way often the most direct way is when I tell you about myself. Let’s say that you are trying to figure out my favorite dessert. I can simply tell you that it is apple pie. Another way you could learn what my favorite dessert is would be for my wife to tell you. She knows me very well and could accurately tell you my preference. The third way is if you observe that whenever given the choice of desserts, my overwhelming choice would be to take a nice sized slice of apple pie. I will refer to this as the “Apple Pie Method.”

God does the same thing. The first two examples in the "Apple Pie Method" (my wife or me telling you) tend to fall in what is called Special Revelation. Special Revelation is when God spoke directly to people and we read about it in the Bible. This gives us a very direct knowledge about God.

The third example in the "Apple Pie Method" (you watching me eat apple pie) is when we see evidence for God in nature which is called Natural Revelation. There are things in nature that teach us about God but they tend to be limited. We do need to include both Natural Revelation and Special Revelation in order to get a full understanding of God. Yet it is Special Revelation - as in the Christian Bible - where we find the fullest knowledge of God. It is also where most of the information for my Credo comes from.

Over the next few weeks - as I start getting back into writing on a regular basis - I will share some of those things that I felt were important to include in my Credo and how those things should shape how I live my life. Be assured that they don't always do so as I want them to but that it is something that I continue to struggle with. Now to go and find some apple pie.

For further reading on revelation and how God speaks consider Tim Challies article on Revelation, Inspiration and Illumination and Greg Koukl's article on Hearing God's Voice.

For further information on the reliability of Scripture as revelation consider Lee Strobel's videos on the Reliability of the Gospels, The Case for Christ and Dr. Peter William's video on New Evidences the Gospels Were Based on Eyewitness Accounts.

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