Scripture: Letters From Home

“The Holy City is not the Church of this country only, but of the whole world as well: not that of this age only, but from Abel himself down to those who shall to the end be born and believe in Christ, the whole assembly of the Saints, belonging to one city; which city is Christ’s body, of which Christ is the Head. There, too, dwell the Angels, who are our fellow-citizens: we toil, because we are as yet pilgrims: while they within that city are awaiting our arrival. Letters have reached us too from that city, apart from which we are wandering: those letters are the Scriptures, which exhort us to live well.” -Augustine, Exposition of Psalm 91

BTW NOTES: Many places on the internet simply offer the paraphrase “Scriptures are our letters from home.” However, the above is the direct quote. The paraphrase is close, but it’s not exactly what Augustine said (as far as I can tell).

Revelation is Bound Up with the Idea of a Transcendent God

“The fundamental word is “revelation.” Derived from a Latin noun meaning “unveiling,” it indicates that God has taken the initiative to make himself known. The reasonableness of this concept should be plain. For whoever or whatever God may be, he is altogether beyond our knowledge. “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (Job. 11:7). Indeed not. His infinite greatness is veiled from our eyes. We cannot discover him by ourselves. If we are ever to know him, he must make himself known.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

Just a Feeling?

“Pure feeling, if such a thing exists, is non-moral. That can be observed in the sphere of human relationships. What makes my affection for a human friend such an ennobling thing is the knowledge that I have of the character and the needs of my friend. Am I indifferent to such knowledge? Am I indifferent to base slanders which are directed against my friend’s reputation? Not if I am a friend worthy of the name. Human affection, apparently so simple, is in reality just bristling with doctrine; it depends upon a host of observations, stored up in the mind, regarding the object of affection.” -J. Gresham Machen, The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior

BTW NOTE: In other words, to make God a mere feeling is to make him, not more, but less than we are. And as with all things that are ‘less’ than us, a God who is just a feeling is easy to manipulate. One way we see this is in how God always seems to agree with our opinions. He’s gets fashioned in such a way that he always agrees with us.

“Cumulative Revelation?” Nah, Stick with “Progressive Revelation”

“My personal preference is to speak of ‘cumulative’ revelation. It would be possible to see the word ‘progressive’ as registering an advance from a ‘primitive’ to a ‘mature’ understanding, leaving the ‘primitive’ behind. This is not what happens in the Bible: hence the word ‘cumulative’ is preferable. Truth is built up layer upon layer, so that nothing is lost. The earlier statement is not primitive but partial— part of the complete whole that is yet to be.” -Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

BTW NOTE: I don’t think Motyer is correct here. It’s not merely that layer is added to layer, nor that there is a cumulative build up of truth across Scripture. That overstates the unity of revelation. There is an age of types and shadows and there is an age of fulfillment. With the age of fulfillment, it’s not just that layers are added, but some things are taken away and replaced by other ideas.

Progressive Revelation from Genesis to Exodus

“The nomadic patriarchs are few in number and know/experience God as El Shaddai (El/God Almighty), the only patriarchal divine name of El compounded with a descriptive word and not restricted to a given altar. But the patriarchs have never known/ experienced the name I AM. To be sure, the patriarchs invoke the name I AM, but the patriarchal narratives never assert that the patriarchs “know/experience” this name.” -Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology