I have been discussing the importance of “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Here are some thoughts which pertain to this important subject:
Some Christians allow contemporary thinking to push out the Biblical Worldview. For example, someone recently wrote that rainbows are not objective realities. Now we grant that no one can find the end of a rainbow. but that is not the same as asserting that rainbows aren’t there. The colors of a rainbow are “there” just as much as the colors on our shirts are there. They may be accidents – to use the scholastic verbiage – but they exist objectively. The rainbow was “put” there by God as a sign of the Noahic Covenant. It is, therefore, of great revelatory significance.
What is often overlooked in these sorts of discussions is man’s position as God’s image-bearer and interpreter of God’s created order. For man to do this task God has to give him language which can accurately verbalize God’s wonders back to Him in worship, and correct faculties of perception which perceive the creation as God made it to be perceived. When man sees a rainbow he sees it as God wants him to see it. A rainbow is not an illusion constructed by our minds, but something God has placed in the extended world which we see and which tells us of Him. From a biblical perspective, that is objective revelation. Further, although there is always a subjective or personal element involved, objective revelation which originates outside of him, and that is all there is.
We are not free as Christians to indulge ourselves in the speculations of immanentistic philosophies (to use Dooyeweerd’s term). Our descriptions of the world must comport with the new man (cf. Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 10:31). Because we don’t begin with man but with God the Revealer, our comprehension and description of the world differs from the worldly description. The worldly descriptions all suffer under the cosh of Hume’s critique of induction and causation. They eventually have to appeal to the pragmatic for verification. For example, Kant saved science and ethics by subjectivizing it.
Psalm 19 is instructive here. In what way do the heavens “declare” God’s glory, or the daily cycle “pour forth speech”? How does natural revelation “display knowledge”? It would seem that they have a revelatory clarity which can be compared to speech. This is because God Himself has already provided men with the perceptual tools to receive and understand this revelation (hence Paul’s “without excuse” argument in Rom. 1:18-22). Verse 3 is most instructive: “There is no language or speech where their voice is not heard.” This verse sets up a connection between non-verbal revelation and human language, or expression of the data of that revelation. Man communicates with himself, his fellow man, and [normatively] with his Creator about the world God has put him in. This means that our speech about the world is itself revelational! But in this world that revelation is obstructed and distorted by sin, so the Word of God (vv.7-11) is needed to correct the impediment. Through the joint contemplation of natural or general revelation (a la vv.4c-6), and verbal revelation, we see our proclivity to distort truth and live sinfully in God’s world (vv.12-13). Thus, the aim of the one who sees this is to line his thoughts up with God’s intentions for the revelation He surrounds us with and confronts us with (v.14).
Thus, we see here man as image-bearer and recipient of revelation (which is for him), responding correctly as a sinner (in the form of the psalmist) to revelation and regulating his wandering self to the purpose of the Creator.
Now, this is what he should do. Romans 1:18-32 is what he usually does do! But for all that, he is without excuse, because the revelation is clearly seen.