Does Revelation Have Value?
- Revelation has a crucial role to play in the founding of religions. Without Muhammad’s revelation from God, there would be no Islam. Without God being revealed in Jesus, there would be no Christianity. Without St Paul’s conversion to Christianity the religion may not have survived let alone become the largest religion in the world. This tells us that for billions of people across the world, revelation events have enormous significance and value.
- From an Islamic perspective, the idea that God might reveal himself to individuals is not really accepted. However, some Christians believe that God regularly reveals messages to individuals, and this is an important part of supporting that individual’s faith by showing them that their faith is true and that God really does exist. A good example of this is Nicky Cruz, whose miracle experience where his throat was healed led him to a belief in God. Not only that but it has inspired him to help change the lives of many young people affected by gang culture.
- One of the most important ways in which revelation has value is that is changes people’s lives. There are many stories of people who believed they had an experience of God and it made a significant impact on their life. In the cases of St. Paul, Muhammad and St. Bernadette and Nicky Cruz, we can see that what they experienced made a dramatic impact. Clearly such an impact must mean that what they experienced has great value and significance to them.
- For those people who believe that the faith in God is part of a relationship with God, revelation helps give a sense of being connected to God, of being in a relationship. Sensing that God is speaking to you through scripture or through nature, or feeling that God is giving you a message has great value for religious believers in their journey through life with God.
Issues with General Revelation:
- General Revelation is simply based on A person interprets a beautiful sunrise or a powerful storm as evidence of God’s existence and personality. How do we know this interpretation is right? When an atheist sees a beautiful sunrise or is caught in a powerful storm it is simply nature. This kind of revelation is meaningless to a non – believer.
- When reading scripture a believer chooses to hear God’s words. Are they really God’s words?
Issues with Special Revelation:
- Might convince the individual eg Nicky Cruz that God exists or that he has experienced a miracle but not other people. Religious experience is too subjective to be convincing.
- Seeing a vision or hearing a voice could be explained in other ways eg mental illness, epilepsy or physical issues such as starvation or dehydration. Even alcohol or drug abuse may be Bernadette Soubirous, who claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary had lived her whole life in extreme poverty and had always been a sickly child. Could she have been suffering from illness at the time of her visions?
- The Philosopher David Hume would ask us to weigh up the evidence. The evidence against claims of revelation is much weightier than the evidence for. (Try to include Hume in essays)
Exam Tip – Look at the 12 Mark Q below. Can you answer it? If not, please ask your teacher in class or via e mail.
‘Revelation has no value’ (12)
The word Enlightenment means to see things differently or to gain insight and knowledge about God through meditation, prayer or self discipline.
For example, a Christian or Muslim might study closely a piece of text from the Bible or Qur’an to gain a glimpse of what God is like.
St Theresa of Avila
Was a nun who frequently used a form of meditation/prayer which she believed gave her an insight into God. She wrote many pieces on the importance of meditative prayer. One of her most famous writings was the ‘Interior Castle’. In it she described her vision of the soul as a diamond in the shape of a castle containg seven mansions which she interpreted as a journey of seven stages, ending with union with God.
The term Enlightenment is more commonly used in Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism rather than Christianity and Islam