Yesterday’s post on Reformation Day generated a lot of comments, so let’s keep it going.
Amy responded to some of the comments about Luther’s beliefs with:
Guys, what matters is TRUTH, not the failings of Luther or anyone else. How has God revealed Himself?
Good question! I’m going to lift my answer out of the comments and do it here instead.
God reveals himself in two main ways: natural and supernatural.
The natural means of understanding God is to study nature and the things God created in order to learn about God through those means. (For example, we can know that God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.) We can study natural law and know about God’s values from the basics of the things he made.
Natural means would include philosophy and logic, things like “I exist, and I know I didn’t make myself, therefore something else made me.”
Supernatural revelation is an understanding of God that cannot be achieved through natural means. Direct communication from God would be one kind of supernatural revelation. Seeing God in a burning bush, or finding a golden book with God’s instructions, or receiving enlightenment under a tree, or being tackled by the Archangel Gabriel in a cave and told to write would all count as supernatural revelation.
Christianity divides supernatural revelation into Public Revelation and Private Revelation. Public Revelation ceased with the closure of the Biblical Canon. Private revelation still continues through the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives, both in a profound way (apparitions, locutions, visible signs) and in ordinary ways (lights and graces.) Private revelation mustbe discerned to make sure it’s really from God.
Catholicism and Orthodoxy understand tradition as the aggregation of established teachings and the combined private revelations that have withstood the test of time. Private revelation and tradition can never contradict the Bible. Canon law is derived from both tradition and scripture.
And like it or not, modern American Protestantism has its own full set of traditions. For example, “accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.” What’s in the Bible as necessary for salvation is merely “repent and be baptized” (according to Peter.)
And I think that covers how God reveals himself to us. Did that satisfactorily answer your question, Amy?