The Value of Revelation
I ran across a quote by Kierkegaard that nearly blew my face right off – it was just that anointed. And I want to share it here because it exposes a very real temptation that I regularly deal with, and I think most others do as well. I am ever tempted to value the commentary and scholarship of the academics over the personal revelation of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit gives me. Without further ado, I give you Kierkegaard, on fire:
“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in this world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship.
Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”
Kierkegaard wasn’t a man to pull punches, and he’s lit up over Christian scholarship in this passage. Since Kierkegaard is well renowned in this area, that’s an interesting fire for the Holy Spirit to light in his heart. But what he’s really condemning is Christian scholarship for the purpose of obfuscation, not revelation.
Revelation vs. Obfuscation
To obfuscate is simply to make something harder to understand. Obfuscation evades the truth by sowing confusion. It’s one of those rare, delicious words that sounds just like what it means. And Kierkegaard was right: a huge chunk of Christian scholarship prefers obfuscation to revelation.
I’ve begun asking myself some simple questions after I’ve read a new book or article or Biblical commentary. Did this bring me closer to Jesus? Did this reveal any of my heart-obstacles to closer relationship with Jesus? Did this lead to repentance? Did this lead me to experience His presence? Did this remove a hidden obstacle to God in my life? Is Jesus Christ even remotely central to this teaching? Someone who writes or teaches out of revelation produces the fruit of revelation. Obfuscation produces pride, confusion, doubt, shame, and discouragement.
Kierkegaard exposed the heart of obfuscation: separation. Revelation brings me to God. It removes obstacles and creates desire for my heart’s union with Jesus Christ. Obfuscation builds a wall between the Lord and me. It muddies clear waters and depresses my heart. It is the Spirit’s joy to reveal Christ to me, ever deeper and truer, and those revelations are priceless. I am tempted too often to value theological obfuscation over my own personal revelation simply because half the alphabet follows the author’s name. And this shows just how much I still value the world’s hierarchy over God’s. Do you?
[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].
Ephesians 1:17 AMP