Gino Geraci on the Image of God & General vs. Specific Revelation

Last week Gino Geraci, nationally syndicated radio show host based in Littleton, Colorado, came up to record a few episodes for the Theology for the People podcast. Those episodes are available now, and links and descriptions for them can be found below.

Gino is the founding pastor of Calvary South Denver. He recently stepped down as Lead Pastor of that church, and his son Jon took over in that role. Gino now focuses his time on his daily radio show, Crosswalk with Gino Geraci, which can be heard on the Salem Radio Network.

Gino also works with one of my favorite online organizations: GotQuestions.org – a great internet resource based out of Colorado Springs that provides concise, biblical answers to the questions that people are asking about God and the Bible.

Check out these episodes, subscribe to the podcast, and share with others if you find this content helpful!

Episode 1: Imago Dei: What Does It Mean that We are Created in the “Image of God”?

In this episode, Gino and I speak about what it means when the Bible tells us that we, as human beings, have been created in the image of God (Imago Dei in Latin).

What are some of the implications of this doctrine as relates to the value of human life, and what would be the implications if this were not true?

Something I am concerned with is how Christianity, because of our belief in the Imago Dei, believes that people with disabilities have inherent dignity. There are other implications of this, which we explain and discuss in this episode.

Imago Dei: What Does It Mean that We are Created in the "Image of God"? – with Gino Geraci Theology for the People

Gino Geraci is a pastor, Bible teacher, and syndicated radio show host. He is the founding pastor of Calvary South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from which he recently retired and is now focusing fully on his radio and online ministries. In this episode, Gino and Nick speak about what it means when the Bible tells us that we, as human beings, have been created in the image of God (Imago Dei in Latin). What are some of the implications of this doctrine as relates to the value of human life, and what would be the implications if this were not true? You can find Gino's teachings on his website: ginogeraci.com. His radio show can be heard here: Crosswalk with Gino Geraci, and make sure to check out the other ministry he works with: gotquestions.org

Episode 2: General vs. Specific Revelation: How Do We Know What We Know About God?

Is it true that “all truth is God’s truth”? What does it mean when the Bible talks about a “mystery” that has been revealed?

In this episode Gino and I discuss the topic of “revelation,” and the question of how we know what we know about God, including His will for us, our lives, and the world. 

In the previous episode, we talked about what it means that we are created in the “image of God” and what the implications would be if we were not created in God’s image. That discussion ended with a comment that the doctrine of the Imago Dei hinges on the question of revelation.

The Bible talks about two specific kinds of revelation: general and specific. In this episode we give some examples of each and answer questions like: “Does one have greater value than the other?” and “What are the benefits of each, and what, if any, limitations do these different forms of revelation carry?”

General vs. Specific Revelation: How Do We Know What We Know About God? – with Gino Geraci Theology for the People

Is it true that "all truth is God's truth"? What does it mean when the Bible talks about a "mystery" that has been revealed? This week Gino Geraci joins the podcast once again to discuss the topic of "revelation," and the question of how we know what we know about God, including His will for us, our lives, and the world.  The Bible talks about two specific kinds of revelation: general and specific. In this podcast we give some examples of each and answer questions like: Does one have greater value than the other? What are the benefits of each, and what, if any, limitations do these different forms of revelation carry? In last week's episode, we talked about what it means that we are created in the "image of God" and what the implications would be if we were not created in God's image. That discussion ended with a comment that the doctrine of the Imago Dei (Image of God) hinges on the question of revelation. In this episode we delve into that question.  Check out the Theology for the People blog, and find Pastor Nick's sermons on the White Fields Church podcast and whitefieldschurch.com 

Hermeneutics: How Do We Correctly Interpret What the Bible Says?

This week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast is a discussion I had with pastors Benjamin Morrison and Craig Babcock on the topic of hermeneutics and Biblical interpretation.

Hermeneutics is the method by which we interpret communication, particularly texts. Legal hermeneutics, for example, is the study of how laws, or the constitution for example, are to be understood and put into practice.

Biblical hermeneutics is all about how to correctly interpret the Bible, so that we can be doers of the Word, not hearers only.

The reason hermeneutics is worth considering is because different people, reading the same Bible, can come to differing conclusions about what it means. The reason that happens is an issue of theological method (see: Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith & the Bible) and hermeneutics.

It must be said that not all hermeneutics are equally valid. Some hermeneutics are better than others. Sometimes we even intentionally use a hermeneutics in order to properly interpret something, as we do with “Christ-centered hermeneutics” – in which we intentionally read all of Scripture as pointing to Jesus, which we do because Jesus himself told us that this was the proper way to read and interpret the Old Testament Scriptures (see Luke 24:44-48).

Other examples of good hermeneutics would be “biblical hermeneutics,” in which read the Bible understanding all of the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, meaning that each individual part of the Bible should be understood in light of what the rest of the Bible says. We might intentionally choose to read the gospels through a Jewish lens, seeking to put ourselves sin their shoes in order to understand the things that happened or were said.

Oftentimes, however, our hermeneutics are not intentional, and we may not be aware of them, and they do impact how we interpret and understand what the Bible says. How then can we become aware of the hermeneutics we’re unintentionally using so that we can determine if they are good or not?

In this episode we discuss this and other questions surrounding the topic of hermeneutics. You can listen here or in the embedded player below.

Hermeneutics: How Do We Correctly Interpret What the Bible Says? – with Benjamin Morrison & Craig Babcock Theology for the People

In this episode Nick Cady and special co-host Craig Babcock speak with Benjamin Morrison, lead pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk, Ukraine and coordinator for City to City Ukraine, about the topic of hermeneutics: the interpretation of texts, particularly the Bible. Hermeneutics and biblical interpretation is the focus of Ben's masters studies at London School of Theology, Nick's alma mater.  What is hermeneutics, and why is it important? Can't we just read the Bible without having to worry about interpretation? As Ben shows us, everyone who reads the Bible has a hermeneutics and we are all interpreters, the question is: are you a good and faithful interpreter of the biblical text? If, as Ben points out, not all hermeneutics are equally good, then how can we determine which ones are better than others and how do we identify our own hermeneutics in order to examine whether they are good or not? We discuss these questions in this episode.

What is “Epistemic Pelagianism”?

How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor eBook: Smith ...

Looking for some light reading? How about an audio book for your next leisurely drive? This might not be it. If you’re looking for a short but extremely thoughtful book with intensely helpful cultural insights, then here you go:

I have been a fan of James K.A. Smith for several years now, and I recently read his book, How (Not) to Be Secular, which is a summary and study guide of Charles Taylor’s book, A Secular Age.

Smith’s purpose in writing a book about a book is that A Secular Age is both intimidating in its size and is written in a way which is inaccessible to many readers who would benefit from its content. I for one, though I am intrigued by Taylor’s book and its analysis of modern secular culture, balked at the 900+ page tome.

The Imminent Frame: Haunted by Transcendence

Smith’s book introduces you to Taylor’s key concepts and arguments, as well as some of his key terms, such as his analysis of the secular mindset as the “imminent frame.” This reminded me of a conversation I had with a relative years ago, who is my same age (an older millennial); when we started talking about the existence of God, she said, “Maybe God does exist, but: who cares?”

The imminent frame is only concerned with what is right in front of them, “the here and now”, and yet, Taylor explains that exclusive humanists who inhabit the imminent frame are “haunted by transcendence.” Smith points this out by quoting lyrics from The Postal Service:

And I’m looking through the glass
Where the light bends at the cracks
And I’m screaming at the top of my lungs
Pretending the echoes belong to someone
Someone I used to know

The Postal Service, “We Will Become Silhouettes”

Basically, no matter how much a person claims to not care whether God exists, or there is life after death, they are haunted by thoughts of it. I remember another family member describing how utterly terrified she was of dying, yet when I asked her what she believed about life after death, she said she doesn’t know, and assumes there is nothing. I don’t believe her: why be afraid of nothing? There is a nagging, haunting hunch in the heart and mind of every person, that there is something more than this life and this world… A God to whom they will answer, an existence beyond the grave.

Another aspect of the secular, exclusive humanism is the concept Taylor called “the buffered self”, which refers to the idea that an individual is an island unto themselves: that there is a firm boundary between the self and others, as opposed to the “porous self” which characterized people in previous eras.

Epistemic Pelagianism

James K.A. Smith’s book is not just a summary though, he also applies many of Taylor’s ideas to Christianity: both how Christianity contributed to and is influenced by this modern secular age.

I first listened to half of this book via audiobook on a drive to climb La Plata Peak, a Colorado 14-er. Later on, I picked up a hard copy to read as well, as there are some parts of the book which aren’t particularly well-suited for digesting properly listening at 1.5 speed while driving at dawn through the mountains.

One phrase Smith used, which my friend who was listening with me in the car ended up discussing for a while afterwards was: Epistemic Pelagianism. It’s the kind of phrase that forces you to hit the pause button and break it down in order to unpack what these two words together mean.

  • Epistemology = the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. Epistemology deals with questions like, “How can we know that what we believe is really accurate or true? To what degree do we have the capacity to accurately discern truth and/or reality?”
  • Pelagianism = Pelagius (354 – 418 AD) was a theologian who denied the doctrine of original sin. He argued for the innate goodness of human beings and for absolute free will. Pelagius argued for these things in contrast to Augustine of Hippo, who taught from the Scriptures that human beings are fallen, and our fallen condition affects our will and nature.

“Epistemic Pelagianism” therefore refers to the idea that as human beings, we are capable of figuring everything out by ourselves, without any help from God.

Epistemic pelagianism denies the fact that we don’t see everything clearly. It denies the idea that, apart from God’s intervention in our lives, we are fallen, limited beings whose hearts are not pure. It places far to much confidence, to the point of hubris, in our ability to accurately discern and interpret the data we take in, in a way that can lead us to all truth, apart from any intervention or help from God.

Rather than epistemic pelagianism, the Bible teaches us that without God’s help, we cannot see clearly, and are incapable of objectively assessing and interpreting things. We need God to remove the blinders from our eyes, in order for us to see clearly.

This biblical epistemology leads us to humility rather than hubris; it leads us to the conclusion that we can’t see or know everything, that we can be wrong.

The Bible teaches that we only see in part, as in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12), that a natural person is incapable of comprehending all truth apart (1 Corinthians 1:14), that our hearts are fundamentally broken and have a tendency to mislead us (Jeremiah 17:9), and therefore it is possible to hear and not understand, to see and not perceive (Acts 28:26).

There are things that we can know (Romans 1:19), but even in those cases we have a tendency to suppress that knowledge if we don’t like the conclusions it would lead to (Romans 1:18)

Thus, confidence in our ability, or willingness for that matter, to comprehend and follow the truth, apart from God’s intervention, is misguided. Instead, we need to take a more realistic and humble view of ourselves, which admits that we need outside assistance in order to receive, comprehend, and appropriately respond to the truth.

Conclusion

Ultimately, we see that theology shapes the way you view all of life. Modern exclusive secularism is based, at least in some part, on bad theology which is clearly refuted in the Bible. Good, robust, comprehensive Biblical theology therefore, is an antidote to many modern philosophical pitfalls.

If you’re looking for an accessible book that helps you understand Charles Taylor’s piercing insights into the exclusive humanism which is prevalent in many of today’s Western cities, as well as the cracks in those theories, and ways in which the gospel uniquely speaks to people today, check out James K.A. Smith’s book How (Not) to Be Secular, but make sure to take the time to break down and digest each sentence.