What’s the doctrine of “General Revelation?”
General revelation, or what is commonly referred to as “natural revelation,” is obviously general in what it reveals about God’s person, and is revealed to all.
There are two kinds of general revelation — 1) Mediate General Revelation: God communicates His power, glory, and the fact that He exists through his creation. 2) Immediate General Revelation: God’s implanting of a general knowledge about Himself in everybody.
Is it supported by Scripture?
Yes. Mediate General Revelation:
Ps. 18: 2-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. There is no actual speech or word,nor is its voice literally heard.Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Immediate General Revelation:
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness,and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
More texts to consider: Acts 14:17; Matt. 5:45
Why does it matter?
General revelation isn’t enough to save someone, but its enough to condemn. A positive response to general revelation opens the door to more revelation, and eventually a positive response to the Gospel and God’s Word (Matt. 11:20-22; 12:41-42; 13:11-13). However, those who observe creation and do not respond by saying,”Hey, this stuff couldn’t have just happened, there must’ve been a Creator; and He must be powerful, holy, good, and beautiful!” have enough revelation to be “without excuse (Ro. 1:20)” at the time of Judgment. A man living deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea without the Bible in his language will be held accountable in Hell for sinning against the knowledge of God that he had. He won’t be able to protest, “I didn’t have enough information God! This isn’t fair!”
What do the important people have to say about it?
John Calvin in his “Institutes of Christian Religion” said this,
The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God [cf. John 17:3]. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he not only sowed in men’s minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken, but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him (Institutes, I.5.1).