I was recently asked, what has religion offered to humanity’s knowledge about the world? In clarifying, this question was unpacked to ask how has divine revelation aided our knowledge about the world?
First I must explain that I don’t divide knowledge out to be the result of unaided man versus what is the result of divine revelation for I see the two are inseparable. All knowledge that lines up with truth is attained because God has given us the ability to attain it through a variety of means whether they are received through the scientific process or received through direct revelation. I would say that all true knowledge is either gained indirectly or directly from God.
To illustrate, consider that as a Christian I see God as being the Author, Creator, and Sustainer of life. Thus all truth is God’s truth for He is its author and its source. He wants us to learn the truth about the world because the way of truth is the way of life.
Now to be fair, I am not trying to skirt the question. I can still talk about direct divine revelation as long as it is understood that I don’t see the indirect as being somehow secular or merely human oriented.
As a Christian I see direct revelation from God coming in two mediums; the written word of God known as the Scriptures or the Bible or through God speaking to individuals consistent with the Scriptures. Thus, the individual doesn’t have license to run with something as being God that is in contradiction to the truth of Scriptures. Now the first is an unchanging objective standard of revelation and the second is a subjective relational receiving of God’s revelation, often referred to in many Christian circles and in Scripture as the prophetic.
Therefore to answer this question from the point of view of a Christian I am examining the contributions to human knowledge from the Bible and the contributions from prophetic experiences. Prophetic experiences come through a myriad of ways such as dreams, visions, impressions, feelings, hearing internally that “still small voice,” seeing internally or externally and sometimes angelic visitation or visitation from the Lord Himself.
The Scriptures have provided a wealth of information for many things in this world. John Locke, who supplied much of the foundational philosophy to form the American republic, quoted extensively from the Scriptures in developing his model for government.
William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending the slave trade in England did so from his moral imperative from Scripture than man ought not to be treated thus as we are called to love one another.
Recently, in the last decade or so,
John Maxwell is a proliferate author in the business world writing to business executives about leadership principals to aid the growth and health of their companies. His books are found in the business section of major book stores, however, he is a Christian, and his principals of leadership are all Biblically based. His books are also on the shelves of Christian bookstores.
These are just a few of the many examples of how Biblical revelation is aiding the world and not just the church and the private lives of individuals. I am going to pause at this point and not continue on to discuss the subjective revelation through prophetic means because if the former is not received the latter certainly will not be for it is much more subjective in nature. Now, of course, if you don’t accept the Bible as revelation then my examples will not aid your understanding of the aid of direct revelation to the world. At least, maybe, it will give food for thought of the value of the Bible.