I have a test this Friday. My first test in seminary, in my Christian Theology course. I can’t remember the last time I studied this hard for a test, but don’t tell my undergrad profs that. We are mostly covering some basic theological concepts and areas of study. I’m going to focus in on general and specific revelation. For those who don’t know what these are I’ll give a basic intro.
General revelation: God is shown in ways available to all people, i.e. nature
Specific revelation: God is shown to some people in various ways, i.e. The Bible
I don’t immediately have a problem with either. God created earth and it was good, it says in The Bible, so therefore we must be able to “see” Him through nature. God has also given us The Bible in written (and audible in the 21st century) form which is not available to everywhere.
There are still people groups with which the Bible has not been translated to.
It does get more confusing to me when people say that all people must be held accountable where they have heard the good news of Jesus Christ or read the Bible. This is because God has shown himself through nature and people should be able to come to believe the one true God. But let me draw this example up for us. There is a kid born in a remote village in India, who is immediately introduced into Islamic culture and this is all he ever knows. No missionary ever visits his village and he never travels outside his village. At age 18 he dies somehow, having never read the Bible or had the good news of Jesus Christ proclaimed to him. However, he has seen the wheat fields and trees and the mountains in the distance. He goes to his death believing in Muhammad and the god of Islam, but he is held accountable for not accepting the God of Jacob and Abraham. If forced…how could I tell his family that he will is certainly not be in heaven?
How can we be sure that he experienced the one true God in nature?
I believe whole heartily that everyone is accountable and everyone is given a chance to accept God. No one questions whether Moses and Abraham will make it to heaven, yet they never had a chance to meet Jesus or read of his works and resurrection. But I really become confused as to where to draw the line and how on earth I condemn this 18 year old Indian that he denied the one true God.
There is no easy answer, even intellectually. I would rather say argue that everyone is accountable than to say God cannot show himself through nature. Clearly the creation is a glimpse of the Almighty. But it feels hard for me to know that the God I praise might deny someone who has not heard the good news outside of the trees of the forest.
I see myself as appreciating nature because of my relationship with Christ. I find it hard to believe that I could have found the one true God without prior knowledge of who this God is.
The obvious statement is that I struggle balancing all this.