Revelation and Inspiration in Neo-Orthodox Theology Part III: Contemporary Thinking about Revelation -- By: Kenneth S. Kantzer
BSac 115:460 (Oct 58) p. 302
Revelation and Inspiration in Neo-Orthodox Theology
Contemporary Thinking about Revelation
[Kenneth S. Kantzer is Charles Deal Professor of Theology and Division Chairman at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.]
Questions about revelation can never be isolated from questions in other areas of theology. Certainly this is true regarding the topic, Does nature reveal God? In seeking to discover and to evaluate the contemporary answers to this question, we immediately find ourselves deeply involved not only in a doctrine of revelation but also in doctrines of man and sin and salvation.
The Roman Catholic church, for example, presents a clear and neat answer to the question, Does nature reveal God? And their answer to this question serves only to raise further questions as to man, sin, grace, faith, and kindred topics. The Roman Catholic Pontiff, of course, has officially decreed that the philosophy and natural theology of Thomas Aquinas will be the ideal and norm for the Roman church. Mystically inclined Franciscans display something less than wholehearted enthusiasm for the statement issued by the papacy; but nonetheless they give lip service to it; and, for the most part, Roman Catholic theologians are loyal followers of Thomas Aquinas (cf. H. J. D. Denziger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, sec. 1642ff, and the works of various contemporary Catholic scholars, such as Etienne Gilson’s Christianity and Philosophy, Garrigou-Lagrange’s The One God, and Karl Adam’s The Spirit of Catholicism.
Natural revelation, according to Thomas, is able to tell us all we need in order to build a complete system of philosophy. Even in his fallen estate as sinner man is capable of availing himself of this revelation. He can erect for himself as sinner a system of true philosophy with correct doctrines about God’s existence, about the nature of God, about the immortality of the soul, and
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about the basic duties of man towards God. The man who did most to erect this true and right system of philosophy, so it is said, was not a Christian, but a heathen—Aristotle. Christians have simply built upon the rational foundations laid down by Aristotle. The only thing lacking to the sinner is the specific way of redemption provided for sinners through Scripture and tradition. The sinner cannot, of course, discover the way of salvation from nature, because nature does not reveal it. Nature was made for sinless man, not for sinful man; and now that man has become a sinner, he cannot discover what he needs as sinner out of nature. Apart from this one lack, however,.man can secure all he needs to kno...
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