YEC / OEC – what are the Differences? – Element 2 – YEC and OEC Views of Revelation

“I don’t need organized religion.  Whenever I need to feel close to God, just go up to a mountain and look at the sky.”  Most of us have hear something like this from a non-believer at some point.  At first glance, our non-believing friend seems to be avoiding organized religion.   Looking further, our non-believing friend has communicated a Biblical truth.  “The heavens declare the glory of god; the firmament showeth his handiwork (Psalm19:1).”  What our non-believing is experiencing is General Revelation. God reveals himself through general revelation and Special Revelation.

An example of special revelation is found in the books Acts.  “Now when they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37).” Peter preached a Scripture filled sermon at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit brought conviction and the people.  They cried for help and about 3000 were saved.

General revelation tells humankind that there is a God and that He reveals his glory in his creation as well as in acts of mercy and providence.  Special revelation is God’s written word.  The Holy Spirit works in the lives of humankind to be open to it, and to be convicted of its truth.  This results in salvation to those in whom the holy spirit is working.

Definitions:

This discussion of Bible Interpretation uses three important definitions: 1) General Revelation 2) Special Revelation, and 3) Naturalism.  These are defined below:

General Revelation: Revelation, general – The term “General Revelation” refers to the process of viewing nature, and the works of creation and providence and this leads any person to conclude that there is a god.  General revelation is clearly described and clearly limited by Chapter 1, Article 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) portions of this article are copied as follows:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. “

Biblically, and per the WCF general revelation is important in showing humankind god’s glory, providence goodness.  However, general revelation is also limited.  It does not tell a person how to be saved or how to live.

Special Revelation: Refers to the Scripture. Special revelation is clearly described and clearly limited by Chapter 1, Article 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) portions of this article are copied as follows:

“Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy.”

Naturalism: This term was excerpted from the PCA Report, Appendix A., Fuller Definitions, 4. Philosophical terms, as follows: “Naturalism is a metaphysical position that the world exists on its own, and that God exerts no influence on any object or event in the world.”

The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is a reliable source for quotations.  Any confession of faith is a summary of what the Bible teaches.  There are a number of very good confessions of faith.  The WCF is the considered the best confession of faith by Presbyterians.  The WCF clearing states that God reveals himself through general revelation and through special revelation.

Natural Revelation: The term “natural revelation” does not appear in either the Bible or the WCF. A good definition of natural revelation may be found in Wikipedia.  This definition, prepared by secularists, is very similar to the definition for general revelation as described in the WCF.  The following was excerpted (without bold face and hyperlinks) from Wikipedia on 11/6/18: In theology, general revelation, or natural revelation, refers to knowledge about God and spiritual matters, discovered through natural means, such as observation of nature (the physical universe), philosophy and reasoning. Christian theologians use the term to describe knowledge of God purported to be plainly available to all mankind. General revelation is usually understood to pertain to outward temporal events that are experienced within the world or the physical universe. The definition may be extended to include human conscience or providence or providential history.

Revelation and Church History: God’s people have traditionally believed in both general and special revelation which are both well-defined both in the Bible and the WCF. Attempts to change the definition of general revelation to the official position of the scientific consensus appear to concurrent with the acceptance of the Day-Age and Ruin-Reconstruction Interpretations of creation in the 1830’s.  Those who hold various OEC views seem to prefer the term “natural revelation” to “general revelation.”   The reason for this is that the term “natural revelation” can be equated the positions of the scientific consensus.  The opinion of the scientific consensus is given the same stature as Scripture.

The YEC View of Revelation:

 The YEC view of revelation has been held by God’s people since creation. It is well summarized in the WCF which itself is based on Scripture.

  • God reveals himself through both General Revelation and Special Revelation.
  • God reveals himself through General Revelation. This general revelation shows God’s glory, mercy and providence.  General revelation makes humankind inexcusable, however, general revelation is not able to save.
  • God reveals Himself through Special Revelation.  This special revelation is Scripture which when used by the Holy Spirit brings humankind to know their sin and call upon the Lord for salvation.  Based – it is independent of outside influences
  • Science is not considered revelation, but rather a God ordained human endeavor that is rooted in the Dominion Mandate. Science is recognized, and the official opinion the 1830’sns of the scientific consensus are recognized.

The OEC Views of Revelation:

The YEC views of revelation were formally introduced in the 1830’s with the Day-Age and Ruin-Restoration (Gap Theory) interpretations of scripture.  Both interpretations placed the positions of the scientific consensus (uniformitarian geology) at the same level as special revelation.  The positions of the scientific consensus began to be called “Natural Revelation.”

  • God reveals himself through both General Revelation and Special Revelation.
  • God reveals himself through General Revelation (typically termed “Natural Revelation”). “Natural Revelation” may mention God’s glory, mercy and providence.  However, “Natural Revelation is typically presented as the opinion of the scientific consensus.
  • God reveals Himself through Special Revelation. This special revelation is Scripture which when used by the Holy Spirit brings humankind to know their sin and call upon the Lord for salvation.  Based – it is independent of outside influences
  • “Natural Revelation” is placed on the same level as Special Revelation. In the event that there is a conflict between the two, the “Natural Revelation” typically wins.

In Summary:

 The YEC view of revelation recognized both general revelation and special revelation. These are based on Scripture and well described in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF).  The study of science by humankind, the opinions of separate from the Bible.

  • In contrast, the OEC view of revelation is based on a perceived need of some make the Bible conform to the scientific consensus of the times. Those in the
    OEC community seem to prefer the term “natural revelation” to general revelation; “natural revelation is generally equated to the opinion of the scientific consensus.

 Homework:

 In our next post, we will look at YEC and OEC views in church history. Your homework is as follows:

  • Read the PCA Report on the history of the creation discussion. The write a summary of this portion of the PCA Report.
  • Add to your glossary your own definitions for: Special Revelation, General Revelation, Natural Revelation, Naturalism and Scientific Consensus.

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