General Revelation

The revelation of God that is available to all man, not expressed in words (non-propositional) or specific actions, but in creation, conscience, and history.

General Revelation is knowledge of God that can be perceived by all mankind.  It is universal, available throughout all creation (Ps. 19:1-6; Matt. 5:45).  It is also available to all men, although they may not understand it (Acts. 14:17; 17:27; Rom. 1:201 Cor. 11:14).  General Revelation is seen in God’s preservation of the world (Col. 1:13; Heb. 1:3) and in his providence (Matt. 5:45, Acts. 17:24-28; Rom. 8:28).

General revelation also encompasses rational arguments for the existence of God.  Theologians and philosophers have proposed five major arguments:

  1. Cosmological Argument (Cause and effect).  The universe is the effect of a greater cause, an intelligent Creator.  The universe cannot create itself or come from nothing, therefore must have come from something else.  God then, is the single uncaused cause.
  2. Teleological Argument (Order/Intelligent Design).  The universe displays an amazing amount of order in its chaos.  But even more, it exhibits design which necessitates a Designer.
  3. Anthropological Argument (Humanity reflects deity) – Man’s extraordinary abilities, superiority over creation, and his “mannishness” (Schaeffer) reflect a greater personal Creator.  Some stress man’s rational abilities, while others see the relationships with the Trinity as key to man’s personality.
  4. Moral Argument (Common Morality) – All men have some sense of right and wrong and some set of common code. Man’s sense of morality reflects the divine image of a moral God.
  5. Ontological Argument (God’s definition requires existence) – Anselm first set forth this powerful and difficult argument.  It argues that the definition of God as the greatest of beings necessitates His existence.  1) The idea of a thing is greater if it exists in reality, than if only in the mind.  2) Man conceives the greatest being – God.  3) For the idea to exist in the mind as “greatest” it must exist in reality or not be the greatest.