This post continues the same theme as the last, Ken Myers‘ concpetion of General and Special Revelation. The previous quotes were from the end of the introductory section, I: Reason and Revelation. The following quotes are from the introduction of his concluding section, IV: Common Grace & Culture
Often in conversation with other Christians, when I talk of appealing to general revelation as a guide to thinking about social and cultural matters, they cite the need for authority as one reason for the absolute necessity of always appealing to special revelation. Reasoning from general revelation is open to debate and disagreement, and therefore lacks full authoritativeness, they argue. Some even accuse those who try to find common ground with unbelievers in general revelation of not really being Christians at all.
Welcome to the Outhouse, Ken.
But of course, if we reason only from Scripture, we are just as likely, if not more likely, to elicit debate and disagreement. Most battles among Christians are over the interpretation of Scripture. Obviously, the authority is there and recognized by all, but no one agrees on what its significance is, on exactly what is being authoritatively revealed. A sheer appeal to authority never absolves us from the responsibility of reasoning properly, of drawing the right inferences from the text, and of developing sound arguments based on those inferences.
And of course, a claim that an argument is “sound” is an none other than an appeal to general revelation.
That holds true as Christians discuss with each other what the Bible says, as well as when Christians explain to non-Christians that the gospel is what the Bible says. In this sense, general revelation is superior to special revelation; or perhaps it is better to say that special revelation is dependent on general revelation. Myers quotes Murray much to this effect: “Without common grace special grace would not be possible because special grace would have no material out of which to erect its structure.” Myers continues on the authoritativeness of general revelation:
I maintain that general revelation is authoritative also [i.e., as well as special revelation], and I believe this to be the classical Christian, the biblical position. … Because someone can draw wrong conclusions from it, or refuses to draw any conclusions from it, does not mean that it has no authority, or that it is always unreliable. General revelation is authoritative because it is from God; even though its intended recipients may deny its source, it is still authoritative. In some areas of life, it is the source God has established as the appropriate court of appeal.
So, returning to the question of resolving differences with general and/or special revelation, here is Myers’ conclusion:
One of the great ironies in this debate is that the authoritative special revelation in Scripture commands that, in certain matters, we rely on and appeal to general revelation. Meanwhile, others appeal to the same authoritative special revelation and assert that general revelation is totally unreliable because of the effects of sin on man’s reason, and that the only way to avoid sinfully autonomous thinking is to rely on the Bible alone. Both of us are appealing to the Scriptures as our final authority in all matters. It’s just that one of us believes that there is a Biblical mandate for not attempting to solve all cultural and social problems with deductions from Scripture.
Take a close look at the first and last sentences there: Myers is advocating not only that the Bible allows the use of general revelation for some purposes; but that it “commands” and “mandates” that, in some contexts, we set aside special revelation, and work with general revelation alone.
Deep stuff. Keep an eye peeled for my planned final installment (here it is!), where Myers gives some practical indications about what that looks like.