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No. 34: Twelve Fundamental Avenues of Revelation, Part 5

OPEN BOOK, Views & Reviews, No. 34
Copyright (c) 1997 Biblical Horizons
August, 1997

As we move toward a consideration of Dynamic Cosmic Revelation, there is a further aspect of revelation through action that should be discussed here, and that is this: God is particularly revealed to us in times of crisis and distress. When things are going well, we forget God. When distress comes, we cry out to Him. We see His hand in the distress. All human beings do this, because all human beings know (a) that they are guilty, and (b) that God is behind everything that happens.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy has pointed out, in class lectures on "Comparative Religion," that if we look at the heathen and their gods, we can see the kinds of things that overwhelm men and that are accordingly considered divine. Let us brie_y discuss a few of these.

War and oppression overwhelm human beings. They are "gods" in a very general sense, for they are radically "over" man. Thus, the heathen identi_ed war as a god. The Greeks called him Ares; the Romans called him Mars. Such personi_cations are long gone, but the psychology remains. In the foxholes, men believe that they will not die until their number comes up, until a bullet with their name on it is _red. War pressures men into superstition or faith, or some combination thereof. War thus reveals God as a fearful threat who operates through other men. The fearfulness of war as a revelation of God is, I suggest, particularly related to the Son, the Judge, the "Man of War."

Love overwhelms human beings. We discussed sex above, as a special kind of covenantal action. Love impels people to marry. A man or woman in love can think of little else. Jealousy and unrequited love are intensely powerful emotions. Thus, every heathen society has a god and/or a goddess of love: Aphrodite, Cupid, Venus, etc. The power of love reveals to us that intensity with which the members of the Trinity love each other, and the intensity with which the Son loves His bride.

Enthusiasm overwhelms human beings. When a person is very excited, he is "beside himself." Thus, there are gods of dance and movement and enthusiasm, like Mercury. Enthusiasm makes people dance. Enthusiasm as a revelation of God is particularly to be associated with the Spirit.

Mobs overwhelm human beings. I suspect that "mob psychology" is related to the kinds of "morphic resonance" that Sheldrake discusses. In any event, a person will be "swept along" with a mob, and in the process may do things he or she would never ordinarily do. Positively, the music and liturgy in worship can form a bond among people and make them better than they usually are. Being in_uenced by a group is, I suggest, a revelation of the unity of the triune God.

D3. Dynamic Cosmic Revelation. The "thereness and thatness" of the world and its contents reveals God to us, and that fact is widely recognized by those who write on "general revelation" or "natural revelation." What is not generally recognized or discussed is that we are usually blind to such revelation because it does not come to us in a crisis, in such a way as to force our attention.

It is actually when nature becomes catastrophic that God is pointedly revealed. God is seen in the storm, in the whirlwind, in the volcano, in the earthquake. Such events as these cause man to realize his weakness and smallness before the God behind these events. Thus, the gods of the untaught always include gods of storm and fury, the powers that overwhelm man. The Roman god of catastrophe was Saturn. As a revelation of the true God, catastrophe reveals God’s power.

Of course, we should perceive God in the ordinary activities and events in the cosmos. We should perceive Him and learn about Him from the processes of change and development and transformation in the day-to-day cosmos. But as sinners we _nd it easy to tune all that out. A meteoric strike from outer space is harder to ignore. A _ood is harder to ignore.

Another aspect of the creation that overwhelms human being, and thus is godlike, is wine; and so every people has a god of wine, such as Bacchus or Dionysus. For the Christian, the overwhelming nature of wine reveals the sabbath of God, His eternal peaceful rest, which He shares with us.

The more ordinary activities in the creation are also revelatory. Angels used created things to train human beings, by means of their angelically-stimulated activities. Animals multiplied in the world _rst, and discovered which plants are good to eat, formed trails to watering places, and generally prepared the way for humanity. Some animals serve man, while others punish him for his sin. The same is true of plants, with their thorns, and of the sun, with its burning rays, etc. Thus, the actions of created objects reveal much about God, about man, and about the relationship of man and God.


There will be a test over all this material next week, so go back and re-read this essay until you have it down pat!