Today: A New Testament
God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself know to them.”
The philosopher Hegel, whose unhelpful ideas about God’s work through history helped pave the way for theological errors like ‘process theology,’ did provide helpful insight in relation to progressive revelation overall. In his essay, ‘Philosophy of History,’ he refutes the circular notion that ‘history repeats itself’ by pointing out that the Spirit continues to emerge through history in new ways. In other words, history isn’t some merry-go-round of repeated events, but a constantly expanding universe, or an ongoing novel, where each generation is a brand new chapter, and each era forms a never-before-seen episode in the ever-developing drama of redemption. And in that sense, if I understand Hegel correctly, he’s right.
See, friend, we aren’t sitting here in the 21st century effectively living out reruns of former days. The world is different now. Not better, but different. We have airplanes and electric cars and talking robots and social media platforms; we fight different battles, we play different sports, we work at different types of jobs; we deliberate over different ethical and socio-political and technological questions, and who knows how all of that might change by tomorrow? But the fundamental point that the process theologians miss is that while the world is an ever-developing entity, God isn’t. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet He intervenes in each episode of the drama in different ways, adding to our picture of His transcendent character with every new word and name and epiphany He brings. Which is what I love about God’s message here in Exodus 6:2-3. It serves as a reminder that just as Moses couldn’t cling to the coattails of Abraham in his walk of faith, we can’t cling to the coattails of our forefathers’ either, because God will take us down paths today they never blazed.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you perceive it?” says our Lord in Isaiah 43:19, so let’s take that as our divine commission, shall we?