Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Is Natural Revelation Infallible?
I’ve been reading through the free ebook A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture by Keith Mathison, and I came upon some interesting passages discussing natural revelation in the Reformed tradition (I’m Lutheran, so this is from an outsider). Mathison is keen to show that natural revelation–that is, that which God demonstrates through the created order–is capable of conveying truth. But his claim goes well beyond that modest level:
God’s revelation in creation is equally as infallible as His revelation in Scripture, because in both cases, it is God who is doing the revealing, and God is always infallible. (Kindle Location 208-212)
Mathison’s point, I think, well-taken. The fact is that natural revelation, if we assume is something God does, would be by definition infallible. After all, God cannot err. Thus, Mathison is correct. What I think is often missed in discussions about this and other topics related to creation is that although it is perhaps easier for humans to make mistakes when it comes to the natural world, it is quite possible (and obvious) that mistakes are made in interpretation of special revelation–Scripture–as well.
What do you think? Is natural revelation infallible? If so, what does this say about how we should interact on science-faith issues? If not, how does error creep in? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Keith Mathison, A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture (Ligonier Ministries, 2013).
Depends on what is meant by ‘infallible’. That’s such a big word in that it encompasses so much territory. I’d like to see the question made as specific as possible, because it is, indeed, a fascinating and important question(s) that are embedded therein. As to how error creeps in, it seems that man’s sin nature and just man being a created being this side of heaven, would explain that. We live in a glass darkly and our vision and rational faculties are clouded and distorted. Much more (? all) will be revealed in time.
Looks like a great book – hope you’ll do a review J.W.
Thanks for the comment!
The book is really short (and free) so I’m probably not going to do a review, but it is worth the read. I read it on a walk actually (I know it sounds weird but sometimes I read while walking, oh well).
Your questions bring up a lot of other issues with much relevance. I think the issue of interpretation is indeed front and center here.
“……. sometimes I read while walking, oh well”
I’ve done that before and it can be hazardous indeed. Anyway. I do appreciate a dedicated bibliophile!
I completely agree with Mathison on the revelation of God’s truth through nature, but talking of infallibility in both science and theology is problematic. God is infallible, but our ways of knowing him and knowing the truth are hardly that. One thing that is becoming increasingly certain about contemporary science is how little is fixed–ideas, theories, even solid laws such as Newton’s law of gravity have proven to be incomplete or in error. Really enjoy your blog and your insightful thoughts.
Natural revelation is infallible… But where does the Bible teach that things such as the age of the earth or the electrons on an atom or any other scientific pronouncement is part of natural revelation?
Scripture says God is revealed in nature. But many Christians, especially old-earthers, get confused and think this means scientific theories are revealed by God–are part of God’s “revelation”. It’s a silly mistake when you think about it.
I agree…His disclosure of who He is in natural is infallible.