This is in response to Orange Mailman’s question on my last post:
Creation preaches Christ. Creation cannot save. I definitely want to uphold both things. And Romans 10 is a great place to highlight both.
Verse 14: How can they hear without someone preaching?
Verse 17-18: Psalm 19’s Word of Christ goes out to the ends of the earth.
Perhaps we have trouble putting those two truths together because we tend to think like this:
- We don’t ‘hear’ creation speaking about Jesus
- When our fallen (and very western) minds assess creation we just ‘hear’ some kind of unitarian revelation of a creator god.
- Therefore we conclude that this is the sum total of what creation is actually saying.
- Then the Christians among us conclude: “Ah yes, so that’s why creation doesn’t save. It doesn’t proclaim Christ.”
- Then we say, “So that’s why we need special revelation. Special revelation fills out the general revelation (which is silent about Christ) and adds to it extra information about Jesus.
- Ergo – That’s the fundamental difference between general and special revelation – a difference of content. General revelation is sub-Christian. Special revelation is Christian.
But, as my last post was arguing, this is not how we should think. The bible does not say that the sermon of creation is a minimal thing. No, no, no. It is an immensely wide, long, high and deep revelation of the Logos of God, the Logos of this world – the LORD Jesus.
If we don’t see that, then it just shows how blind we really are. In thinking these things through again yesterday it struck me just how estranged this world really is from the life of God, and yet how intimately related! How completely insane it is that we are not living in the direct personal presence of Christ our LORD! Once we were. One day again we will be. But how far have we fallen!!? In Him all things hold together. And yet… how ignorant the unbeliever is, and how forgetful is the Christian most times. He is the true Light that enlightens every man and yet we live in the midst of such darkness.
All of this is to say that the fall is HUGE! MASSIVE! Beyond our reckoning. If I don’t hear Jesus proclaimed in the creation my first reaction should be: “What a wretched person I am! How blind to the Light of the world!” What I should not do is conclude: “Creation is an indistinct and minimal word.” The bible never says that. It says the very opposite.
If you asked the Hindu what creation is saying, they’ll hear many gods. If you ask the atheist what creation is saying, they’ll hear nothing ‘spiritual’. And let’s be honest, the only reason we think ‘general revelation’ speaks of some single creator deity is that we’re conditioned by centuries of western philosophy, not to mention centuries of western theology that thinks of the one creator God separately from the triune God revealed in Jesus.
So really this is a plea to take the fall seriously. And to say that only the proclamation of the church will pierce deaf ears and remove the scales from blind eyes. Not because of a different content but because of a different mode.
Not sure if this illustration is helpful but perhaps we are a bit like Mary in the garden of the resurrection. There is the risen Christ. THE RISEN CHRIST!!! It’s not like she doesn’t have all the information she needs. It’s not like she’s only been presented with a minimal, indistinct word! There is the very Glory of God shining at full strength. And she thinks He’s the gardener!! But then she hears Him speak her name and suddenly what has been true all along comes home with living power. That’s a bit like the revelation of creation and the revelation through human proclamation. Both are saying the same things, but only one awakens faith.
As for why creation doesn’t save, I remember asking Richard Bewes that question (former Rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place). He thought for a second and said “God’s not enlisting individuals, He’s building a family.” It’s people-on-people contact that grows the church to bless the world. I think that’s the best answer I’ve heard to that question.
Feel free to come back to me on this stuff…