Joseph Minich on the purposiveness of revelation

Could God be more obvious than He is? Could He erase all atheism? Yes. … But He doesn’t. Why? Because God is only interested in His revelation being clear enough for the purposes He has in revealing Himself. That is to say, God’s revelation is about God’s rather than man’s goals. And it is not man, therefore, who determines how clear He must be. Man’s purposes are often at odds with those of God. As it turns out, God is actually not that interested in people simply believing that He exists. Consider the parallel of Jesus in the Gospels. How often does Christ actually conceal His teaching and His identity precisely because He knows that people will simply abuse His teaching or seek to manipulate His identity for their own ends? Christ is most clear to those who pursue, who hunger, who thirst—and he satisfies them, as in the case of the woman at the well (John 4). This does not mean that His identity was, as such, unclear. It means that He was not interested in maximal clarity. His clarity was fitting to His own purpose in coming and revealing Himself and His Father. … Why would He then ‘fix’ what isn’t, by His standards, broken?

from Enduring Divine Absence: The Challenge of Modern Atheism (2018), 68-69.

Rowan Williams on the touch of God

Rowan Williams on the riskiness of revelation The touch of God is dangerous, in that it can be a light too sharp to be borne without hurt or breakage; and when the perception is skewed and redirected, it may run close to the destructive and the hellish. Jonathan Smith, the great anthropologist of religion at Chicago, remarked about […]

Readings on the Nature of Revelation

An account of revelation should speak to a variety of questions. Among them: what has God revealed? (the question of content); how does God reveal? (the question of revelation’s media); and not to be forgotten, where does revelation figure in God’s economy? (the question of revelation’s systematic location). More than a few theologians now have warned that the doctrine only suffers when it’s lifted from its proper dogmatic context and conscripted to serve as the epistemic foundation for the rest of a system. Many more interesting subtopics could be included. So for those with an interest in such matters, here’s a list of relatively recent treatments of the topic. I’ve tried drawing from a variety of perspectives. They’ll give you a sense for the history and current state of the conversation. If I come across other titles that deserve flagging, I’ll add them to the list. Feel welcome to offer your own suggestions.

(listed chronologically — since Barth)

  • Karl Barth, (1932) Church Dogmatics,1.1
  • G. C. Berkouwer, (1955) Studies in Dogmatics: General Revelation
  • John Baillie, (1956) The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought
  • Emil Brunner, (1964) Truth as Encounter
  • Second Vatican Council, (1965) Dei Verbum
  • Edward Schillebeecx, (1967) Revelation and Theology
  • Gabriel Moran, (1967) Theology of Revelation
  • Wolfhart Pannenberg, (1968) Revelation as History
  • Carl Henry, (1976) God, Revelation and Authority
  • Paul Helm, (1982) The Divine Revelation: The Basic Issues
  • Ronald Thiemann, (1985) Revelation and Theology: The Gospel as Narrated Promise
  • Rowan Williams, “Trinity and Revelation,” Modern Theology 2/3 (1986): 197-212.
  • Avery Dulles, (1992) Models of Revelation, 2nd Ed.
  • Christoph Schwobel, (1992) God, Action and Revelation
  • Colin Gunton, (1995) Brief Theology of Revelation
  • Nicolas Wolterstorff, (1995) Divine Discourse
  • Paul Avis, ed., (1997) Divine Revelation
  • Gabriel Fackre, (1997) The Doctrine of Revelation: A Narrative Approach
  • David Brown, (1999) Tradition and Imagination: Revelation and Change
  • Peter Jensen, (2002) The Revelation of God
  • William Abraham, (2006) Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation
  • Richard Swinburne, (2007) Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy, 2nd Ed.
  • John Frame, (2010) The Doctrine of the Word of God
  • Matthew Levering, (2014) Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation