Special revelation - what makes us want it?

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Puritan Board Senior
This may be the wrong way to come at it but why do we want special revelation. Before some one jumps on me, I don't. What I mean by we is Christians. More specifically what is it in human nature that wants this? If it is about business ventures, matters of the heart or career choices isn't there some overlap with pagan astrology? The Calvinist in me says man up and not only make decisions but accept responsibility for them. There is definitely some irony in a Calvinist asserting there are some decisions we are free to make.

Beyond the personal what are some of the areas that people see special revelation being relevant in.

My thinking is to locate the reasons and then deal with them. Hope this makes sense.


Staff member
I think the term "special revelation" will be confusing.

Special revelation includes the Word of God revealing his truth to us.
General revelation refers to interpreting Creation.


Puritan Board Senior
How about word of prophecy or a vision or dream. I was listening to Dale Ralph Davis preaching on Luke 5 and one of the things he was trying to say is Just because it is weird does not mean it is from God, sometimes its just weird.

How often does someone say from the lectern God has called me, God gave me or God has told me. I met one man who moved from London to Caithness because of a prophetic word. I heard a Baptist ministers wife tell us God told her she was going to marry the man she met when she met him (no pressure there). I heard another minister explain that he was moving to England to be beside his elderly parents and the used the formula "God is calling me to a church in England'? I have heard men describe the way they made the decision to enter the ministry. More often than not it is "dreams and signs", demonstrable ability to preach usually isn't high on the list. I recall the aforementioned ministers wife counselling a young woman re affairs of the heard to " ask God". That was not code for think it through and pray, she really meant ask God to tell you in a dream, vision or audible voice (bath kol).

These I have covered but what is behind prophetic words about "this generation" - and no I am not talking about "our" reformed churches (hopefully). Is it a misunderstanding of providence? Is it a failure to apply scripture or a belief that new circumstances in the 21st century really means we need new revelation direct from God. A previous generation would have seen revival as an extraordinary Work of God - Jonathan Edwards did! We however seem to be discontent with Gods inaction and want to diagnose the " blockage preventing blessing". We seem to want a "special word" telling us what to do to initiate the revival we want but we have been stopping. There is so much faulty theology in that that I don't know where to begin! And that is my point - help me out here.

If anyone fishes you know what a birds nest is. Its a tangled mess of line that defies attempts to untangle. That is how I feel about many thing - there are just too many variables, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Ask me why the economic shut down was caused by the Wuhan flu and its a birds nest! Ask me why folks seek a prophetic word and I am tempted to feel the same way.

As a reformed baptist I appreciate the framework that a confession of faith gives to me personally and my fellowship collectively. In some way I tell myself that it is one reason (among many) that a baptist minister in kirkintilloch became Dr Liam Golligher in a US Presbyterian church. It is lonely as a confessional baptist! From my perspective interacting with presbyterians I don't think you guys (OK maybe not the PB) know what you have in the WC. It is a bulwark against error and an anchor against the winds of fashion. It is a pharmacapodia (?) from which to write prescriptions. When someone in my fellowship asks themselves what is blocking the blessing, I ask what Biblical truth are we neglecting that makes you ask that question.

We have a subgroup in the fellowship discussing dreams and visions why they continue today and how to interprets them. Why? What are we neglecting that leads to us (collective expression of solidarity not agreement) entertaining the notion?

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
There are so many reasons, how can they be pinned down? Uninformed consciences, and a lack of preaching that informs them, I'd say is the principal cause. We all have fallen hearts that seek by nature after everything except for God, and superstition is one of the results of the fall. Having rejected the revealed truth of the Creator, Adam and his posterity don't know what to believe, nor how to be instructed.
Some are bred to superstition more than others--most of the recovering pentecostals I know are still convinced that the noises in the attic are a demon scratching around, though they live in a city that's crawling with rats and other pests.
I think it's also lazyness--how much easier to make decisions based on a feeling or an accident of circumstance that you wrongly attribute to special Divine instruction than to decide based on duty, logic, and frankly--what guides most of my decisions--what you simply want to do?
It's hard, knowing that God orders all circumstances, to convince someone that the presence of what seems to be a clear sign to them might not mean what they think it does, even though God ordered it.
I think the antidote is to acquaint oneself with the Scriptures, and teach others what they say. They are the only sure proof against error.


Puritan Board Freshman
It may have to do with how we want to go the right way without any problems or trials or mistakes. If we can "hear from God" directly (which of course won't happen anymore since he speaks to us in his word and not by dreams or visions) then we think we will have an easy time ahead of us. This theological error in thinking (thinking we can hear from God somehow directly anymore) is compounded by how God sometimes for our own good brings trials and afflictions upon us.

I think it is just an effort to avoid "screwing up" ourselves (like a lack of wanting to take responsibility as you mentioned before--we want someone else to make the decision for us). For example, say we have two job offers and both are just about equal in every way; we may wish that God would give us a sign to tell us which one to take. If we make the wrong choice and then later find out that the other option (in our view) would have been better for us, (say the company you go with falls through and they lay off most of their workers) then we may wish we could have seen or heard or felt something that would have driven us to make the other choice, not considering of course (as long as the first choice didn't involve any sinful actions) that the choice we made was God's will for us. And even if it did involve transgression, God may punish us and others in this life for our choices that we made (as he did with David and the adultery and murder that he committed), but God will work good out of our bad decisions.

So it seems to me to have something to do with that, and probably none of these things those who think they hear from God think about consciously; I think it's just they associate hearing from God as appealing, some affirmation that that really is the best, the right decision.

From my perspective interacting with presbyterians I don't think you guys (OK maybe not the PB) know what you have in the WC. It is a bulwark against error and an anchor against the winds of fashion. It is a pharmacapodia (?) from which to write prescriptions. When someone in my fellowship asks themselves what is blocking the blessing, I ask what Biblical truth are we neglecting that makes you ask that question.
Man, I hear you there. It's what drove me to read the Bible again. All the answers are there and there's nothing it doesn't have an answer about in questions about God, life, etc. (some of those answers a non-believer won't be satisfied with of course). Nothing I ever heard of explained the Bible in that way, so logically and leaving nothing out (and as you said any theological error is refuted and corrected with an understanding of the doctrines, any and all I've ever heard).


Puritan Board Senior
Thank you for your contributions Ben and Anne, for once I seem to be prompting the sort or responses I was aiming at.:)


Puritan Board Senior
Just found a really good series on guidance (again) on sermonaudio. You can find them here Chuck Vuolo
Maybe I shouldn't say but amongst his other sermons these stand out head-and-shoulders above the others.
I listened to the series some years ago and thought it would make a fantastic book.
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