Revelation: knowledge that is gained through the agency of God. Religious believers consider revelation to be superiour to knowledge discovered through reason or empirical testing - it is also direct and free of misunderstanding and bias.
Propositional Knowledge: Is usually taken to refer to knowing that something is so - it is the 'mental library' of facts that people know, e.g. knowing when your birthday is or knowing some French is considered to be propositional knowledge. It is considered to have a truth value as it can be true, false or somewhere inbetween. Belief in propositional revelation is the belief that God speaks to people in words and passes on information to his listeners.
Non-Propositional Knowledge: refers to other kinds of knowledge, e.g. knowing how to do something with the skills that we have - like riding a bike. Non-Propositional meaning can be conveyed in a variety of ways, e.g through music, art and dance and is commonly used in advertising. Belief in non-propositional revelation is the belief that God is revealed through the things he has done, e.g. in the beauty of the world or the creation of life - God is said to have been revealed in the person of Jesus.
Barth's Understanding of Revelation:
He argued that the only way to gain true knowledge of God was through revelation. He rejected the ideas of thinkers, such as Aquinas, who attempted to combine faith with reason because he thought that their views led away from the truth of the Bible. His thinking had two important implications:
- Knowledge of God can only be found in Christianity - what about the views of other religions?
- The Old Testament is open to testing to see how far it meets the revelation of God in Christ. The New Testament is seen as superiour in truth to the Old.