Natural Revelation

A term I hear from a lot of theologians is either natural revelation or God’s truth from nature.  These terms generally are used by theologians in the process of compromising the integrity of the Scriptures by permitting the millions of years. However, there are numerous problems with this approach, despite it frequently being cloaked in Biblical terminology. This article will address this issue and explain why natural revelation is not a solid arbiter of truth.

This idea of natural revelation is sometimes phrased as “all truth is God’s truth”. While that is a true statement, it obscures a sinister underlying motive. In making such a statement, what the person is doing is equating something outside the Bible with the Bible. Usually, the argument is based on the statements in Romans 1:19-20. ” Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Essentially this argument is that, since the Bible says that creation reveals there is a God, when creation indicates something it must be equivalent to the Bible.

This argument is utter hubris.  The Bible specifically says in this instance that creation proclaims that there is a God. This is essentially the “design needs a Designer” argument. It’s a valid argument but it is a single argument with one implication: God exists. This argument is consistent with the entire Bible.  Attempting to use that argument to say that everything that we see in nature is meant to convey truth that, in many cases, contradicts the plain meaning of Scripture, is patently absurd. Yet many theologians attempt to make it say just that.

What is driving this interpretation? I think there really is a very simple answer to this question. Most theologians are being intimidated by the secular scientists into believing that the evidence proves that the earth is very old. They hear the ideas coming out of science and have no idea what is true and what is false, so they swallow them wholesale. This leads to them ceding the authority of the Bible to science. Since they accept the pronouncements of secular scientists, many of them seek to preserve Christianity in light of this conflict. This idea of natural revelation seems to many of them like a way out. It allows them to accept what scientists are saying, and say that the Bible is still true. However, it introduces contradictions that must be explained away.

Of course, this is not the case. The vast majority of the evidence points to a young earth. However, more importantly, so does the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible, beyond the above-quoted passage from Romans, does it indicate that the natural world was meant in any way to influence our interpretations of the Bible.  Even the passage from Romans does not entitle us to change our interpretation of Scripture. Instead, it tells us that the natural world reveals that God exists. That’s it. Extrapolating that to make it say things it does not say is poor doctrine at best.

Unfortunately, despite there being almost no Biblical basis for it, many theologians have embraced “natural revelation”. In so doing, they introduce all manner of contradictions into the Biblical text. For example,  nature tells us that there are no miracles.  Yet the Bible describes dozens, if not hundreds of them. So is nature right, or is the Bible right? Because if the Bible isn’t right, throw out the Virgin birth, and throw out the Resurrection.  But if nature is wrong about there being no miracles, then why should we trust it on anything else?  Therein lies the conundrum. If both are equally true, then they should never conflict. If they do, then one of them is wrong and should not be trusted as a basis for truth.

Of course, nature is subject to the fallible interpretations of scientists. Nature itself does not speak. Instead, people, usually scientists, interpret it and tell everyone else what it says.  The Bible, by contrast, while subject to interpretation, does not need to be filtered through a theologian to be understood by the layman. Every individual can and should form their own views based on what the Bible says.  “Natural revelation” is a false doctrine, meant to allow compromise on important Biblical positions such as age of the earth.

 

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