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  In the Greek New Testament the word for ‘revelation’ is apocalypsis (‘uncovering’), the word which gives us the English word ‘apocalyptic’. This is an indication of the import of revelation: the unveiling of God\'s purpose for the end of the age. It involves seeing God as he really is.

The concept of revelation gives authority to scripture in the world religions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, since their scriptures are held to be the vehicle of the revelation of the truth. However, conflict arises between those who see revealed truth as a set of propositions on a sliding scale, some of which can be comprehended by reason (which means that revelation can also be found in natural philosophy) and some which can be grasped only by faith. This leads to a distinction between natural theology and revealed theology and to a debate about the extent to which human reason can comprehend divine truth. Another controversy, between Catholics and Protestants in Christianity and between certain traditions in Judaism, is whether God reveals truth beyond what is set down in scripture. Does extra-scriptural tradition contain revelation? For Christians, at least, the answer has been to find everything necessary for salvation in the Bible (as ‘special revelation’), and to label everything else as ‘general revelation’, accessible to all humankind, indeed what makes people human. This position has been maintained despite the collapse of the idea of scriptural inerrancy in the face of modern biblical criticism: religions which forbid the textual criticism of their scriptures do not have this problem. Belief that general revelation is possible means for some that their God can communicate through the belief systems of other faiths, and thus that inter-faith dialogue is possible. Such dialogue is likely to be even more meaningful if one perceives that revelation is not confined to one set of scriptures, and that God is still revealing his truth in world history. EMJ

Further reading Emil Brunner, Revelation and Reason; , H.R. Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation.



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