Q1: What is the chief end or purpose of humankind?
We believe that created persons (both male and female) were created to experience a divine relationship with Him; and to live in community with God and the other called-out members of His great plan so as to serve God and glorify His name forever.
Q2: Can humankind ever truly know God?
Q3: So then how can humankind come to know and to experience Him?
God has chosen to graciously communicate truths and the Truth about Himself and His purposes so that a man and a woman might be able to enter into fellowship with Him. It is only through God’s self-revealing communication that anyone may know of Him and His purposes. God began by speaking His word in the creation of the world, spoke through the prophets and writers of old to reveal His purposes, and has acted in and through history to establish His church as the community which reveals His ongoing purposes in the world. In this sense God has revealed Himself through 3 ways and means. On the local level, one person’s relationship to revelation might be discussed in terms of God drawing, transforming, and sustaining.
Q4: How is it that God’s revelation works to draw people to Himself?
We believe that God has revealed general truths about Himself through many and varied mean that are common to the experience of all persons for the purpose of drawing out a community. We call this experience the natural or general revelation of God.
Q5) What shape does this revelation take?
Q6) For what function does this revelation occur?
These revelatory acts fulfill three functions for all created persons. First, these actions create an awareness of God and his very existence. Second, these actions create a desire within a man and a woman to know more about this god that is at present unnamed and unknown, but present in some sense in their thoughts and beliefs. Third, this revelation leaves no man or woman without an excuse as to the lives in which they have lived. In this sense we mean that men and women realize that there are certain moral truths which cannot be crossed without consequence.
Q7) Is there any power in this revelation?
By these means humankind may be drawn to God and the idea of Him, but in no means is revelation of this nature able to provide a man or woman with the experience of God’s saving power. In this sense this general revelation is said to be non-salvific and non-transforming to humanity’s experience in the world.
Q8: What is this transforming revelation of God?
We believe that God has revealed Himself in power and authority through the divine Word (logos) of God, and through the written word (graphe) of God for the purpose of transforming the members of his covenant community into His likeness. We call this the Primary, Special, or Authoritative Revelation of God.
Q9) How is this revelation termed special?
God has worked in what might be termed the “scandal of particularity” to make known that which was previously unknown. There is scandal in that the God who is wholly other has chosen to make Himself visible in the flesh as the god-man Jesus Christ; as well as, through His inspired revelation given to a special or called-out people (first to the people of the man Israel, and second to that entity known as the body of Christ, that is His church) in the form of Holy Scriptures.
Q9A) How is God revealed through the person of Christ?
In His human nature, He is revealed as ultimate example of what it is to be really human, and in His divine nature, He is reveals the ultimate reality of who God is.
Q9B) How is God revealed in the scriptures?
In the scriptures we have the unfolding story and explication of God’s work within the course of human history. At the center of this work is the story of the divine logos becoming in fleshed in the god-man Jesus Christ.
Q10) What are the characteristics of this special revelation as understood in the scriptures?
There are five main characteristics of scripture that must be understood. First the scriptures are said to be inspired. That is to say that the Spirit of God superintended over the writings of scripture to ensure that these writings are true, holy, and just down to the very choice of words used by its authors. That is not to mean that the Spirit overwrote the personalities and circumstances of the human authors, only that the Spirit worked through these means to give accuracy and clarity at even the most basic levels of the writing. In this way, we can also say that the scriptures are inerrant and infallible within the original autographs. This means that there can be no errors of fact or purpose; nor are there any contradictions of any kind. The believer can take heart that the scriptures are true and without blemish even when they may not feel as such. In this way the writings of scripture are to be understood as incarnational. That is they are the truths of God taking on the shape and form of our particular experiences and viewpoints. Last we must say that the writings of scripture are interdependent. That is to say that the writings of scripture are understood to be sum which is greater than its separate parts. It is a progressive revelation of God’s work leading up to Christ, as well as an understanding of God’s work in light of Christ’s work. Any attempt to understand one part without understanding that parts place without the whole will lead to danger.
Q11) How is this revelation termed primary?
The revelation of God in Christ and in the scriptures is all that is necessary for the salvation of a man or woman. This revelation is therefore to be deemed salvific in a way that general revelation is not.
Q12) How is this revelation to be termed authoritative?
The revelation of God in Christ and in the scriptures is all-sufficient to accomplish the task of humanity’s complete salvation. This revelation is the pinnacle and absolute rule of faith by which all other revelations are to be judged. Nothing further can be added to the words of scripture, nor is any further action required on Christ’s part to achieve full victory over the many evils of the world. It is what the prophet Jeremiah foresaw when he prophesied that the law of God would be written on the hearts and minds of the believers of God’s new covenant. What is said in scripture is absolutely binding to the believer. What is clearly taught must be obeyed in totality. What is not so clearly taught or thought not to be addressed within scripture must be understand in the best light of the scripture precedents and moral instruction. And what is clearly forbidden by scripture must be avoided in the life of the believer at all costs.
Q13: How is it that God’s revelation functions to sustain the members of the called-out community?
We believe the Holy Spirit has been given by Christ to illuminate His work, and sustain His people. We call this the subordinate or secondary revelation. By this we mean that the Spirit works to sanctify and empower His called-out community.
Q14) What does this revelation look like?
God, by His spirit, works within the called-out community to sustain His people through three means. First, His spirit works through the illumination of the scriptures to enable the people of God to understand who He is. The illuminated reason of the believer becomes the organon by which he or she can understand God’s revelation. Second, His spirit works through the traditions (both of orthodoxy and orthopraxy) of the church to preserve the right knowledge and right practice of God. In this way we can talk of tradition as the normed norm by which every person can judge his knowledge and practice. That which differs from this normed norm is to be viewed as less worthy of consideration and more prone to errors of interpretation. Last, the spirit works through the experience of faith to empower and enable the believer to understand and practice the faith given in revelation. In this we believe that God can still move through his giftings and charisms to give insight into His will, purposes, and plans. By these means of experience, the revelation of God may be proved true in the heart, mind, and life of the believer, and should provide an enduring witness of the power of God’s purposes and people.
Q15) What is the relationship of this type of revelatory work to that of Primary Revelation?
These are to be understood as subject to the authority, clarity, and all-sufficiency of God’s revelation in Scripture. Apart from Christ and the right understanding of His work recorded in scripture there can be no revelatory power.
Q16) How does this revelation function in the life of the called-out community?
There must be an understanding that scripture and the life of the community will include essential elements where unity is required, non-essential elements where liberty is to be given, and all other things upon which the members of the body must act in charity one to another. This guiding line of love of the fellow believer is to be taught and practiced in all discussions of God’s revealed actions.