Terry Tiessen’s 6th chp asks this question: To whom does God reveal himself? Let us remind ourselves of the basic options — some say God reveals himself only to those who hear the gospel as preached through the Church (ecclesiocentrics); Tiessen will argue that God reveals himself to all (accessibilists). How so?
The major point: “Once we acknowledge that God makes himself known to particular individuals both inside and outside the covenant community, in ways that are not universally normative, we have accepted a truth that is very important for our inquiry” (122). God makes himself known, and humans are to respond to that knowledge. God is “ceaselessly at work making himself known to all people” (122). But God speaks to some more particularly.
I see a few options (in question form): If only those who hear the gospel are saved, is it not inevitable (morally conscionable) that we would have to be Calvinists? Or, if only those who hear the gospel are saved, is the responsibility pushed on to the community of Christians to make God known throughout the world? Or, is it more biblical — and consistent with the God of the Bible — to think that God makes himself known to all and holds all accountable to the light they have received? And, if this is the case, is not the Christian claim that the purity of truth in Christ makes adequate response to the gospel more likely by missionary activities?
God manifests himself to all — this is called general revelation. But God is also revealed to some particularly. And everyone is required — for final participation in God’s presence — to respond in faith and obedience to the revelation they perceive. Not only do all humans have a moral conscience (requirement to live according to basic morals) but also a religious consciousness (requirement to live in light of religious revelation).
First, general revelation. God is revealed in creation (e.g Rom 1:19-20), in moral consciousness (Rom 2:14-15; Acts 17:22-31), religious consciousness (Acts 17:22-31), and providence.
Second, specific revelation to particular individuals. Tiessen sees two sorts here — God is revealed to some within the biblical covenant scheme (Adam/Eve, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, etc) and some outside that covenant scheme (Balaam, Nebuchadnezzer). More controversially, God is revealed to some today — Phillip Wiebe’s famous book Visions of Jesus traces such.