H. Richard Niebuhr quote
I came across this passage from H. Richard Niebuhr in his book on revelation that seemed pertinent given my previous post on pluralism and evangelism.
A theology of revelation which begins with the historic faith of the Christian community is no less tempted to self justification and so to abandonment of its starting point than any other theology.
It may seek to make a virtue out of its necessity and recommend itself as not only inescapable but as superior in results to all other methods. It may direct attention away from..God..and seek to defend the community, its faith, its theology.
A recent book..states that the "question of revelation is at the root of the claim of the Christian religion to universal empire over the souls of men." Such an apologetic statement contains an evident inherent self-contradiction.
For revelation and "the claim of the Christian religion to universal empire over the souls of men" are incompatibles. The faith of revelation is directed toward a God who reveals himself as the only universal sovereign.
To substitute the sovereignty of the Christian religion for the sovereignty of God..is to fall into a new type of idolatry, to abandon the standpoint..directed toward the God of Jesus Christ and to take the standpoint of faith directed toward religion.
A revelation that can be used to under gird the claim to universal empire over the souls of men must be something else than the revelation of the God of Christ who in faith emptied himself, made himself of no reputation to claim the kingly crown.
Whenever the revelation idea is used to justify the church's claims to superior knowledge or some other excellence, revelation is identified with something with what the church can possess.
Such a revelation must be..under human control of the Christian community-a book, a creed, or a set of doctrines. It cannot be revelation in act where by the church itself is convicted of its poverty, its sin and misery before God.