After reading Eckhart Tolle’s book, which sometime in the near future I plan to give some thoughts on, and being at the beach and considering how someone can come to the conclusion of pantheism, although I think Tolle’s view is more panentheism, I have come with a new appreciation for divine revelation. It seems in Christian circles, we treat this too lightly if we’re apologists.
Now I know there’s a time and place for proving things apart from the Bible. Sometimes though, we can seem to reach the point where we want to avoid the Bible as much as possible in such argumentation. There were some medievals who sought to prove the doctrines of the Trinity and of the incarnation apart from divine revelation. Now I believe we can have hints of those, but I don’t think we could know those doctrines apart from Revelation.
On page 6 of the Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas edited by Anton C. Pegis, we find these words from Aquinas:
It was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards these truths about God which human reason can investigate, it was necessary that man be taught by divine revelation. For the truth about God, such as reason can know it, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, with the admixture of many errors; whereas man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore that the salvation of man might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they be taught divine truths by revelation. It was therefore necessary that, besides the philosophical disciplines investigated by reason, there should be a sacred doctrine by way of revelation.
Aquinas was a highly intelligent man. (To be more accurate, he is one as I believe he’s still alive though apart from his body.) However, he knew that few men would come to the knowledge of God apart from God revealing himself. Even if they did, they would come with many errors. His own philosopher he followed, Aristotle, described God as moving the world by being the object of desire of the world and God was only in thought about himself.
We can look back and wonder how they reached such goals, but is it that hard? If there seems to be no message from the outside and all you have is your mind, you’re bound to make mistakes as you have no guidelines. I can understand how someone like Tolle can make the mistake he makes as it seems there is no place for divine revelation in his worldview. I can understand the same happening with the great thinkers of the past like Plato and Aristotle.
However, we’re different. We do have divine revelation. God has not left us in the dark and it’s more than just general revelation. Paul does make it clear that God’s existence can be known and some of his attributes in Romans 1. He does not make it clear though that God can be known to exist in three persons or that God has spoken to the prophets through revelation alone.
Now that we have that revelation, many of our errors can be corrected. Now we can look back afterwards and say “Why yes. That makes sense.” It’s like watching a mystery and when you go back and watch it a second time you realize all the clues that you should have seen along the way and think “How did I miss that?” and realize “Yes. That clue was there. I just misread it all.”
Revelation is a gift we dare not take lightly and if we’re good evangelical Christians, we need to be learning about the revelation that we have in Scripture and of course, the incarnation told to us in Scripture, and seeking every jewel that we possibly can in there. I want it to be clear also that I speak to myself as much as to anyone else. I’m just as guilty at times as taking divine revelation for granted. He did not have to reveal himself, but he did. We should be thankful.