Our Knowledge Of God: No Wordless Mysticism

Special Revelation and the Word of God, by Bernard Ramm (Eerdmans, 1961, 220 pp., $4), is reviewed by H. D. McDonald, Visiting Professor, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Some books come off the press stillborn; others, in the words of Shakespeare are “born great.” This last is true of Dr. Ramm’s Special Revelation and the Word of God. The subject with which Ramm deals is at the present time one of profound significance, and he treats it in a manner worthy of profound significance. And Ramm approaches his work well-equipped for his task.

Three main topics engage his attention: the Concept, the Modalities, and the Products of Special Revelation. The knowledge of God, it is premised at the beginning, “is the authentic map of the spiritual order.” But a map is not the same thing as a photograph. Maps need to be understood. God is, however, known only in self-disclosure, and revelation is presented as the autobiography of God. General revelation in some way, and special revelation in a very definite way, fit into this context. Ramm’s interest is, of course, in special revelation, and he consequently goes into some detail regarding its centrality and characteristics. His discussion on the modalities of special revelation is of particular interest and importance. First place is given to the modality of the divine condescension, and it is shown that it has a cosmic and anthropic context and that “special revelation possesses the same contours as those of redemption.” It has, however, its own universe of discourse—the knowledge of God—and this means that it must find its expression in “relevant analogies” and various media. The concept of the divine speaking, or the Word of God, is ...

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