The Word and Some Notions of Today -- By: William T. Riviere

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:371 (Jul 1936)
Article: The Word and Some Notions of Today
Author: William T. Riviere


The Word and Some Notions of Today

William T. Riviere

Although God’s handiwork appears in nature and in history, God’s chief revelation of Himself is through His Word and Spirit. The Bible is a divinely inspired record of the history of redemption. The Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture tells us what we need to know about God and ourselves, about our plight and about gracious divine aid. God has appointed this means of giving us the truth that we need; and our chief source for knowledge of God and His will for us is the prayerful study of the Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture. Our light is the Spirit shining upon the World.

The Bible itself tells us that God is also revealed in nature, though the sinful human mind, Romans 1:18–25, inclines to reject this revelation or to twist it awry. The believer has clearer vision than any other observer, clear vision of the glory of God in the heavens and of His handiwork in the wide range of His creation. The child of God, trusting his Heavenly Father, considers the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and follows Jesus to the conclusion that He Who notes the sparrow’s fall will not forget to provide for us. The Word shows us how to find God in nature.

The human mind desires to unify all attainable knowledge

into one articulated body of truth, so the human mind has built great systems that combine philosophy, natural science, and theology into one interconnected whole. The great medieval synthesis of Bible and Church plus scholasticism is an example. After Descartes the typical synthesis became a sort of inverted pyramid, balanced on the point of some inner certainty of the mind. In the eighteenth century the great systematizer was Wolff, who built on the work of Leibniz the Cartesian optimist. Wolff was the first German professor of philosophy to teach and write in the German language instead of confining himself to Latin. He undertook to develop and publish rational proofs for all the doctrines of Christianity which seemed important to him.

Hume’s scepticism awakened Kant from his Wolffian dogmatic sleep, and Kant undertook to destroy the basis of rationalistic theology with his first Critique, 1781. One would have expected the universal synthesis then to disappear. Human science had made such progress, anyway, that no later Leibniz could be a master of all fields of human scholarship. But before long the Kantian Hegel attempted a synthesis more ambitious than any before him. Hegel’s tower of Babel included a new philosophy of history. In the hands of smaller men, this philosophy of history sometimes becomes an interpretation of recent history in terms o...

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