“New when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon on of John! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:13-17)
The word “revelation” is not one we use on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes in a moment of epiphany, or when a new piece of information comes to light, we’ll claim to have had a revelation. Rarely do we speak of heavenly revelations, of experiences of God revealing himself to us in some way. Yet, for the early Church, revelations were a part of their religious life. Revelations were God’s way of directly communicating with humans, to offer guidance, wisdom, or insight. And although we no longer use the language of revelation extensively, God is still speaking.
Medieval theologians often talked about God’s revelation in two sources: the book of Scripture and the book of Nature. Scripture was the overarching narrative of God’s providence in human life; Nature was God’s handiwork which displayed characteristics of the creator. Together, scholars taught, these two books could supply all that was necessary in knowing God and oneself. Revelation was confined to these two channels.
Although reclaiming the book of Nature as a channel of God’s revelation of himself is a major step forward (by stepping backward) from the one-dimensional understanding of sola scriptura, or by Scripture alone, this still leaves a foreshortened view of how God communicates and how accessible God is to every person.
I suspect that the soul of every person operates in some way like a radio receiver. From time to time there is static on the line, we can’t pick up anything from the heavenly realm, and so we use devices to help boost the signal. Those devices take the form of spiritual practices, things like praying, reading scripture, taking pilgrimages, singing hymns, and others. The device we use may simply be to get out into nature and observe the interconnected life all around us.
But most assuredly, we should know that those practices do not create the voice of God within us; they do not work on their own, but they are merely ways to boost the availability of God’s voice to our own souls. Sometimes all that is needed to simply to be quiet and receive what God reveals. In receiving revelation about God from God, we find ourselves enriched and truly blessed. God can speak directly to you today, the only thing needed is to listen.
Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection