My last post dealt with more anecdotal evidence of the existence of a sky-god easily identifiable with the Triune God of the Bible. This post will step back a bit to identify the theology of Richardson in Eternity of their Hearts by examining his view of supernatural revelation, even today.
For Richardson, the sky-god is not only entirely identifiable with the God of the Bible, but he is actually active in evangelizing the world about himself! Though most of these cultures viewed their sky-god as distant and unreachable, he notes a stunning number of tribes who heard from their prophets, or the sky-god himself, about a messenger coming.
One such example is the Burmese. These people knew not only to expect a coming of their god, but exactly what to look for when his messenger came! This will be examined more in detail later, but for now, it is sufficient to say that God was reaching out to them and giving them clues about his coming.
For Richardson, this means that God has not left the world without a witness. Citing Romans 1, he notes that God has left knowledge of who he is across the world. Not only does he do this in natural revelation, but he does this in supernatural revelation. He says that despite the spiritual wickedness of the world (cf. I John 5:19), God is the light that shines into the darkness (John 1:5; 9).
He says that this is an obvious embarrassment to evolutionary theologians, but also to Christian theologians. How can you say that the world lies in darkness if God is actively making himself known to them?
He postulates that aspects of even the most well-known religions show signs of God’s influence, and he sees certain aspects as footholds for evangelism. The first is the incarnational theology of Hinduism. As the Hindi wait for Vishnu to return for the tenth time, they expect him to return as a man. Rather than call Jesus the tenth incarnation, he says Christians should embrace that they can accept a God who becomes man. Secondly, the Buddhists have a similar expectation for the fifth manifestations of Buddha, as Phra-Ariya-Metrai. Rather than cite Jesus as this appaearance, but we should note Buddha’s name means “lord of mercy”. If that’s the case, we should let them know about the God who gives mercy to those who ask.
More than a simple exercise in religious studies, the missiological aspect of original monotheism shows a greater need for study in the field.