Blogging my thoughts: Revelation and Instrumental Rationality
Blogging my thoughts this morning: June 1st, 2016
I dreamt last night about vertical insight and learning versus horizontal insight and learning. (I was cognizant of a much greater concept in the dream, but I could only come up with “insight and learning” after waking.) I think the dream stemmed from my thoughts about revelation versus reason. Reasoning seems so very superior to taking verses from the scripture and seemingly proof-texting with them. But it is not proof-texting when coherently arguing from revelation. For example, a great deal of contextualizing thoughts and words precede the great oracle in Habakkuk 2: 1-2. But then in verse two, the prophet writes, “And the Lord answered me.” The revelation is the oracle that has its heart in verse four: “Behold [someone’s] soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by faith.” A number of other insights proceed from verse four, but just to take that verse, shows that revelation can be taken seriously and arguing from it can be very coherent reasoning. It would be profitable to explore if revelation in different forms could be the source of all reasoning per se.
Much reasoning can be instrumental and revelation could be the vertical insight that needs the horizontal fashioning, clarification, and precision that such a tool can bring to it. So in a sense, revelation is what reasoning requires in order to get its inspiration, which its instrumentality alone does not provide.
Reasoning always relies on what follows, whether what follows is formally or materially the case. It is valid formally when the structure of the argument, for example, a conditional argument or syllogism, is valid. It follows materially if the best evidence and reasons can be marshaled for a proposition. But when a thought or sentence or proposition follows another, then a spark of revelation could be involved. Revelation could provide the basic source of instrumental rationality or be a continual or continuous source.
In the revelation of Habakkuk, “the righteous shall live by faith,” which is an oracle, the vertical insight most likely produced a horizontal renewal in the thought as well as the realities of the prophet’s day. St. Paul used the same oracle to form the renewal of his theology and the faith that included the gentiles in what had only been the Judaic faith. In the theology of Luther, the same oracle formed the guiding light of the reformation and the vertical revelation brought about a very far-reaching horizontal change.
NB: I tried to learn what the name Habakkuk means in Hebrew and it seems to mean “ardent embrace.” That fits in with knowledge in the Hebrew sense of involvement, participation, commitment, i.e., Adam knew his wife Eve, and she bore a son, etc. It is the insight and knowledge that derives from intimacy, while other insight and knowledge of a complementary nature can be derived from distance and detachment.