Correcting A Lawyer on the Distinction Between Revelation & Reason

Dear Pastor,

“You are wrong when you say that man’s reason is not part of Revelation. Reason most certainly is a part of God’s revelation, as much as anything in nature is. It is a revelation of an attribute of God, and to attempt to make use of it to deny revelation is ironic in the extreme.

We agree on a lot, but when you whiff, you whiff big!”

Brian Matthews

Bret responds,

Dear Lou,

First of all there is a category mistake here. Revelation, strictly speaking is what we find in Holy Scripture. In point of fact we refer to that as Special Revelation. Revelation is what God gives to fallen man. It is outside of Him and not internal to him.

I Peter 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation. 21For no such prophecy was ever brought forth by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Even should one desire to talk about “Natural Revelation” (all that which isn’t Special Revelation) it is still the case that in order to engage God’s Natural Revelation man must use that which isn’t God’s Revelation and that is reason.

So, reason is distinct from Revelation though in order to understand Revelation aright we certainly must use reason in submission to God’s Revelation. Even with Natural Revelation, in order to read it aright we must use a reason that presupposes the truth of God’s Special Revelation lest we twist the meaning of Natural Revelation.

To insist that reason = Revelation is to discount the effect of the Fall and to suggest that man independently of God can arrive at true Truth. However this cannot be as man’s reason (unlike God’s Revelation) is fallen. This is why we talk about the noetic affects of the fall.

Now, certainly the regenerated man uses his reason to understand Revelation but that is a far cry from saying reason is a part of revelation. Revelation is independent of man’s reason and man’s reason is only as good as its Revelational starting point. Man can either start with himself as the source of Revelation and reason from there or man can, in submission to God, reason in the context of presupposing God’s Revelation as truth. But again we see that it is a deeply confused person who says reason is a part of Revelation.

Indeed, epistemologically speaking the reality that reason is not part of God’s Revelation is seen in the fact that man can only answer the question of “How do we know,” in one of three ways,

1.) Autonomous Reason (Rationalism) 2.) Intuition (Mysticism) 3.) Revelation.

Of course I would expect a Lawyer not trained in theology to make the kind of category mistake that says that “Reason is a part of Revelation.” Just as I would expect a lawyer to not be able to see his mistake.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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