General Revelation And Biblical Hermeneutics -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 09:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: General Revelation And Biblical Hermeneutics
Author: Robert L. Thomas


General Revelation And Biblical Hermeneutics

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament

General revelation’s noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable. Considerations for prohibiting general revelation from including such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music include the following: (1) “General” cannot refer the content of the revelation; (2) biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God; (3) sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields; and (4) general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in various fields. Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation. Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation, a step that is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study. The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the integration of secular disciplines with biblical hermeneutics. Psychology’s promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.

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In recent years, the field of general revelation has had a significant impact on methodology in biblical interpretation. An investigation of how that has happened divulges interesting information about the relationship between general revelation and biblical hermeneutics and whether or not that relationship is a healthy one. First in order of business in such an investigation must come definitions of general revelation, hermeneutics, and terms and expressions relevant to them.

Definitions

General Revelation

Its scope. Demarest and Lewis define general revelation—sometimes referred to as natural revelation—as “the disclosure of God in nature, in providential history, and in the moral law within the heart, whereby all persons at all times and

places gain a rudimentary understanding of the Creator and his moral demands.”1 Demarest adds, “General revelation, mediated through nature, conscience, and the providential ordering of history, traditionally has been understood as a universal witness to God’s existence and character.”2 He l...

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