Pastor’s Bookshelf: Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation

One book I recently finished was Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation by William Abraham. I had Dr. Abraham for a class in seminary at Perkins School of Theology, SMU about religious knowledge. It was nice to reexamine this interesting text.

This book is very dense. Abraham talks about how we know what we know—which might sound complicated and abstract at first glance, but it really is applicable for everyday life! How do you know that Christianity is true? How do you believe that God exists? How do you have assurance that Christ loves you and died for your sins? These kinds of questions are at the heart of what is known as religious epistemology—a fancy academic word meaning the study of how we know stuff.

Abraham argues that historically speaking, our culture has struggled with things like divine revelation, or things we believe to be acts of God. We are perfectly content arguing from a standpoint of so-called “rationality” or scientific evidence, but we tend to shy away from religious appeals. This hesitancy does have some good reasons behind it. For instance, think of a cult leader coercing followers to commit crimes because he said a divine figure told them so!

But Abraham notes that in order to truly grasp hold of Christianity, one needs to experience God for him or herself. As we come to know the love of God, other things in our life begin to make more sense than they had before. (Abraham argues for what he calls “canonical theism”—that is, a faith grounded in the traditions of things like scripture, the witness of the church, the creeds, saints who have gone before us, and so forth).

One of the key illustrations Abraham uses is that of a threshold. Consider for a moment approaching a mountain pass. You are hiking up a winding trail and can see this pass from a distance. Once you arrive at the high point, you are able to see all behind you, as well as what is on the other side of the valley. Crossing the mountain “threshold” gives someone new perspective. The same is also true if you were to cross a threshold of a house. As you enter the doorway, you can then see what is actually inside. The point is that an area of transition gives someone new knowledge.

This also applies to our faith with how we “know” the love of God. To truly know God is to experience the nature and character of Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus is much more important than knowing any other fact in the world. As Christians, we don’t need to shy away from sharing the testimony of God’s revelation in our own life. It is certainly meant to be shared… and it can also change the life of another person we witness to as well!

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