General Revelation is “general” because it is the revelation of God made available for all men at all times, in every age. In other words, it is common, even between believers and unbelievers. This truth may lead some to assume that general revelation must also be religiously neutral, but this assumption is mistaken. Common ground does not mean neutral ground. As we saw in the last post, general revelation clearly reveals that there is an Eternal Creator who is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-good. “The light of nature and the works for creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable,” as the Westminster Divines said (WCF 1.1). Neutrality would undermine the very claim of unexcusability.
In a religiously neutral world, people are satisfied with some vague sense of the “divine” or some inner sense of “spirituality,” perhaps even claiming that all religious paths lead to the same transcendental end. General revelation on this account becomes synonymous with the world of multi-cultural, religious plurality where no one person’s path is really any better or worse than anyone else’s. As long as one believes some higher power, acts politely, and helps others, he will surely enter the opaque “promised land” of religious neutrality. Who are we then to criticize another person’s spiritual journey when we all end up at the same place in the end?
The Christian can have no part in such nonsense and should not assume general revelation complicit in it either. In fact, general revelation is the very thing that brings condemnation on the adherents of religious neutrality for the denial of God the Creator. Not only does it condemn all for denying the existence and nature of God (i.e., unbelief) it also condemns all for not following the moral law written on the hearts of men (i.e., unrighteousness). Recognizing a higher power and being a nice person fall very short of the glory God revealed by creation.
He has gifted men with reason (the light of nature) to enable all to understand his works (creation and providence). His works reveal who he is and what he requires, and does so in a manner that is readily knowable by those who seek after him; He is not hidden in the “cloud of unknowing.” Instead, He is hidden from us because we have closed our eyes, plugged our ears, and worshiped the creature rather than the creator. Some will be uncomfortable with an appeal to our faculty of reason. Is not reason fallen and autonomous? Is it not the very enemy of our faith? We will take up these questions in the coming posts.