20 April 2006

Revelation: Direct

So we (that is both of my readers and I) have discussed (that is, I have written and they have skimmed) general and special revelation so far. The difference between the two is found both in the audience (universal vs. limited) and in the content (general and condemning vs. specific and saving). We talked about different kinds of special revelation (e.g. Urim and Thummim, visions, and Jesus Christ), and how they were different from the Scriptures. How do the Scriptures relate to its broader category of special revelation?

The entire Bible is special revelation in that it is communication from God whose audience and content is more specified than general revelation. Inspiration makes the Bible a revealed book. However, it does not follow that the entirety of the Scriptures were directly revealed.

What I mean by "directly" is that there is no mediating secondary causation in the discovery of the information. For instance, direct revelation includes dictations like "This is what the Sovereign LORD says," (Mal 3:1) and visions or dreams like Nebuchadnezzar's in Daniel 2. As the name implies, direct revelation entails only information that comes immediately from God. God uses no secondary means to communicate direct revelation. However, historical research is alluded to in passages like Luke 1:3 ("I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning." See also Numbers 21:14-15, 1 Chronicles 29:29, and Josh 10:13). These texts indicate that the authors of Scriptures did not always receive their information directly from God.

Keep in mind, though, that inspiration guarantees that the Scriptures are without error. Holy Spirit's superintendence in producing the authoritative writings included determining which and where sources were used so that the final product is as wholly accurate and trustworthy as God himself.

So is there inspiration without revelation?
In one sense, all inspiration is revelation; it is to be classified as special revelation along with direct revelation, Urim and Thummim, and Jesus Christ. In that sense there is no inspiration without revelation. However, not everything that was inspired was directly revealed to the human author.

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