The statement given offers the viewpoint that scripture is the best way of revealing God. Yet, is scripture any more reliable than testimony or other forms of religious experience? They all claim to be the word of God in some aspect. Scripture still has the margin of human error when being written but this is the case with the human interpreting everything correctly as who knows if how God presents a meaning or matter is truly understood by the human thus relying on the most profound human interpretation. Which leaves the real question of which is the most reliable form of Revelation. I hope to show that scripture is not how God is most clearly revealed by the end of the essay.
Scripture can be a general time for writings of a religious entailment such as the old and new testament. Now if one is to look at the Bible, there are various ways of looking at this. One of which is through divine inspiration which looks at how the Bible is verbally inspired meaning that every word comes from God therefore the implications is that every word should be followed and respected. This would therefore mean that the Bible should be taken literally. In this case, it should be trusted that the scripture is a direct word to be followed without the need for interpretation and if it is the direct word of God then this would be surely point to God most clearly being revealed through scripture? Even with human implications, it is still seen as a direct word yet problems can soon occur with which bits to interpret as true or not? If one section is the direct word, should that mean the whole of the Bible should be taken literally? Or is one a number of select areas to be taken verbally while the others are divinely inspired but if so then how can we decipher between what is and what isn’t to be interpreted creating this confusing complication between people deciding to follow certain rules and not others largely down to subjective views or to fit the conventions of society such as Adultery being deemed OK to be punished with death however this is said to be interpreted due to the modern times but then why should this not be taken literally and others to be. Same with the concept of turning the cheek soon to be adhered by the contradiction of ‘eye for an eye’ or ‘tooth for a tooth’ leaving the statement in wonder of whether any form of scripture is true enough in itself to be trusted as a revealed word of God or whether we just alter due to our cultural views.
Another aspect of understanding the word of God is through propositional and on-propositional. Propositional looks at God revealing himself and this being the absolute truth thus fitting with church teachings as ultimately, the church derives it’s authority from the Apostles which is linked to Jesus thus teachings should coincide with all further revelations. This plays on the fact that revelations communicate facts about God since believers believe they are therefore true and beyond debate. Examples can include the likes of Moses receiving the ten commandments, hence that God is revealing the direct word to humans without an interpretation. Aquinas even stated that propositional revelation is the truth but not demonstrative through reason which seems to be a slight contradiction considering natural law theory plays on the idea of reason being a guidance and humans actively take part in the eternal law of God. Whereas non-propositional seems to highlight the need for a receiver. It looks at how the interaction with God is understand from a humans perspective through scripture such as the Bible. This seems to rely on human testimony and understanding to be fully correct in the right interpretation which is difficult considering the straight away factor of humans having a subjective viewpoint on religious events yet this seems the only reliant source considering it references interactions with God that aren’t as easy to come by nowadays with many shying away believing it was luck or people not being believed largely down to it being hard to believe and human testimony is at error. Yet, this leaves one questioning whether it is possible to have a reliant form of testimony as this is similar with scripture for it has just as much truth behind it as testimony. It is all reliant on a trust in the receiver but is this ever really possible without empirical evidence? With this in mind, it would seem that God clearly isn’t most clearly revealed to humanity through scripture.
Considering this, if one is to argue against scripture, another alternative is religious experience. Which despite the issue of testimony as referred to early, does have some advantages that William James who was an American Psychologist, famous for ‘The varieties of Religious Experience’, suggested ways in which it can be categorised. The first is ineffability which is basically described as ‘indescribable’. This can seem apparent when considering how an experience with a being out of this world would be beyond human understanding and so James makes a valid point. The second is Noetic Quality where it is seen to be a way of gaining insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. Then there is transiency where the experience may go beyond time, feeling out of proportion to human time. Something that would appear a characteristic of a being beyond time and human understanding so it would be very easy to see this occurring. Finally, there is passivity where a loss of control over the body occurs during the event and in reference to God, an event that isn’t possible in human physical understanding could be seen to go into a metaphysical or alternate state to be capable of grasping the meaning and experience. With all this in mind, it would seem James is onto describing why such experiences are so hard to be believed.
So, could this be the best way of God revealing to humanity rather than scripture? Well, when considering these suggestions by James, in actual fact- it can be criticised as Anthony Flew in ‘Theology and Falsification’ concluding that statements without empirical evidence are meaningless and that James’ argument could be deemed too subjective and despite trying not to be bias, James points towards a God but doesn’t explain so the need correctly and therefore leaves little evidence as to the cause of the experience which could be anything from God to an Alien or form of drug that the people may have inhaled experiencing such an event. This may explain such effects experienced in the Toronto Blessing where numbers of people up to 1000 members in the Church ended up rolling around, laughing and seeming completely out of character’ which points at ‘passivity’ but in actual fact, could have been from another cause or a joke that caused people to believe something was happening meaning that they felt thy were needed to join in. Furthermore, James’ characteristics could be criticised by Russell who stated the fact that a belief has a good moral effect upon a man is no evidence whatsoever in favour of its truth” meaning that, when Toronto blessing left many going back and teaching others in their home towns, the affect does not necessarily pont to a truth found and therefore still leaves questions over whether any event actually occurred or a stunt was caused to bring back religion in the light to a modern standpoint considering so little is reported due to the lack of testimony and evidence which was could have been attempted to be done with the Toronto blessing. This is what ends up being drawn from these events as despite the possibility that it did happen and was simply ‘ineffable’, why doesn’t God just allow the experience to occur for everyone leaving a hindrance over Gods omnipotence as Mauldsey questions why God doesn’t do it for everyone rather than the few? Seemingly to show the lacking that God has so profoundly been known for. However, this could all be changed if one was to experience such a miraculous event thus completely altering the essay if so but this has not been the case due to the minimal people that have experienced such events and even they hold little power and authority to actually spread the message and convey what should be heard. With this in mind, it seems that perhaps there is no such way God clearly being revealed to humanity, even through religious experience rather than scripture- God seems to lack a sense of superiority that is associated with God.
Yet, the one thing that draws back religious experience is that if it is carefully selected, perhaps these people are doing something the rest of humanity is not therefore acquiring such religious experiences and the sheer fact that if God is beyond human understanding there is an explanation for everything and so I conclude that Scripture is not how God is most clearly revealed to humanity but miraculous religious experiences are as it conveys an ineffable experience that in rational thinking- makes sense considering the confusion and complication of God. Meaning that, despite the drawbacks, Religious experience is how God is most clearly revealed rather than scripture.