"Everything in this world has a hidden meaning. . . . Men, animals, trees, stars, they are all hieroglyphics. When you see them you do not understand them. You think they are really men, animals, trees, stars. It is only years later that you understand." (Nikos Kazantzakis)
The poet is on to something when he says that the stuff of nature (or, in our view, Creation) is not to simply be taken at face value. The doctrine of general revelation tells us that God is revealing himself to us in Creation. And though unbelievers can, by His common grace, know something of the truth of things, believers can grasp the richness of what it all means, that is, if we bother to look. Why? Because, we have the Spirit and the Word of God. It's also not hidden in some gnostic sense, as if only the elite can understand, but it is open to all, with its fuller riches more available to us as we study it more deeply.
T.M. Moore makes a case for this kind of creational theology in Consider the Lilies: A Please for Creational Theology. He defines Creational Theology like this: "Creational theology is an attempt to improve our understanding and use of God's general revelation in creation, culture, and the actions of conscience. Creational theology involves the effort to bring the doctrine of general revelation into the household of faith in a more lively and beneficial manner, by improving our ability to understand and make better use of the book of the world according to the teaching of Scripture."
For me, what Moore is arguing for is, in part, what good artists have always done: encourage us to look long, listen deeply, and muse on life until it gives up meaning. Apart from faith in Christ, such musing yields mixed results; with Christ and the Word of God, we have a lens through which to understand what we are seeing and hearing. The problem is most Christians don't slow down and give attention to what is all around them. In addition, Moore says that another of the reasons for Christian's deficiency in this area is "because our approach to knowing God --- our approach, that is, to doing theology --- has been so limited to the logical and verbal that we have not felt the need for learning how to perceive and experience His revelation of Himself in the creation around us."
I'll be musing on what Moore says for some time. In fact, you might say that what he is detailing is the kind of practice this blog is centered on: looking at the book of the world to understand what it tells us of truth, goodness, and beauty.
But, for now, let me just mention one thing here that struck me as new. Moore very helpfully turns the verse in Job 31:1, where Job "made a covenant" with his eyes not to look on a woman in lust into a positive injunction for us to train our eyes to look for God's truth in creation, that is "[w]e must make covenant with our eyes' to look for the line that the Lord is sending out concerning His goodness in all the things of the creation that we encounter throughout the day." So, in addition to not looking in a manner that leads to sin, we actually have an obligation to look for good, to look for truth, to look for beauty all around us, and it an enduring and lifelong obligation.
So, today, I'll go out with eyes wide open, open to what God is telling me. It's not optional. That's the way we need to live. And we're missing out if we don't.