God’s Self-revelation: the Prerequisite of all Knowledge of God

“God is first of all the subject communicating knowledge to man, and can only become an object of study for man in so far as the latter appropriates and reflects on the knowledge conveyed to him by revelation. Without revelation man would never have been able to acquire any knowledge of God. And even after God has revealed Himself objectively, it is not human reason that discovers God, but it is God who discloses Himself through the eye of faith. However, by application of the sanctified human reason to the study of God’s Word man can, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gain an ever-increasing knowledge of God.

When we us the term revelation, we use the term in the strictest sense of the word. It is not something in which God is passive, a mere “becoming manifest,” but something in which He is actively making Himself known. It is not, as many moderns would have it, a deepened spiritual insight which leads to an ever-increasing discovery of God on the part of man: but a supernatural act of self-communication, a purposeful act on the part of the Living God. There is nothing surprising in the fact that God can be known only if, and in so far as, He reveals Himself….All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of Himself.”

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941), 34-35.

So, what are we to make of Dr. Berkhof’s commentary? To be Scripture, it must be “a supernatural act of self-communication, a purposeful act on the part of the living God” who “disclosed Himself through the eye of faith.” This assessment is alien to the modern, empirically driven, textual critic. Empiricism, by definition, eliminates the idea of “supernatural,” and “the eye of faith” has been relegated to the trash heap of theological presuppositions and bias. Connecting the dots, to accept modern textual critical practices is to do away with historic, Christian orthodoxy. The two are wholly incompatible, and yet, the synthesis of two wholly incompatible perspectives, somehow, is held by many as a part of normal Christian living. The Scriptures have been transformed from a “supernatural act of self-communication” into a scientific, or computer driven analysis, a relative, ever-changing work on the part of a committee’s majority vote. If pre-critical historic, Christian orthodoxy is not the answer, post-critical scholarship certainly is not, which leaves us, in the words of Pastor and Defender of the Faith, Dr. David Otis Fuller, “let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, and go to hell.”

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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