Religion, Reason and Revelation. Philosophy Paper, Topic 5 Revision Summary. What is Revelation?. A way of knowing God ‘Unveiling something that was previously hidden’ God takes the initiative in making Himself known to us through revelation
Philosophy Paper, Topic 5
Available to everyone. God is often revealed to us through nature. Christians believe that God reveals himself through the world he has created. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms, Old Testament, Bible). Some Philosophers have agreed – William Paley saw evidence of ‘design’ in the world around us as evidence of the existence of God – this is called the ‘design argument’.
God reveals himself directly to special people on special occasions. This might include the prophets from the Bible (e.g. Moses). Many Christians take the Bible itself as a special revelation. The lives of great Christians and the teachings of the Church are often seen as special revelation. Many people claim to have experienced a ‘special revelation’ – hearing and seeing things tat others did not. These experiences often encourage them in their religious lives and can happen during prayer and meditation, whilst reading the Bible, on pilgrimage or sometimes completely unexpectedly during ordinary activities.
The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the books of Bible. It also inspires the Church in its role of interpreting the Bible to its followers. The teaching of the Church is important to Catholics in understanding how they should interpret the Bible.
As the name implies, Literalists believe that the Bible contains unquestionable truth and is an accurate record of historical events. This can cause conflict with the modern world and the findings of science in particular. The Bible should be followed as it is a direct revelation from God. If this brings Christians into conflict with the modern world, it is the modern world that is at fault. This approach is more characteristic of Protestant Christians, especially Evangelical Christians.
The writings of the Bible need interpreting in the light of individual situations. The Bible contains principles that should be applied to the modern world, rather than unbreakable rules that can never be changed. Attitudes to homosexuality are an example of where Liberal Christians might put the general principle of ‘Love’ above the apparent ruling against homosexuality found in Leviticus in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Bible authors were inspired by God, and the Bible should continue to play an important role in human affairs. There is a possibility of human error in the Bible. Generally view the Bible as an accurate record and unwilling to interpret it in to ‘liberal’ a fashion or change it in any way. A popular position in the Protestant Christian world.
Secular = non-religious. Secular people (such as atheists or agnostics) might regard the stories of the Bible as ‘made up’. They might regard the Bible as applying to a particular society in the past, but not necessarily being relevant to ours. Many secular people might see the morals of the Bible as being useful and positive, but at the same time reject its historical accuracy and the supernatural beliefs found in the Bible.