Following on from Jesus’ repeatedly flagging in the Scriptures, a moral dimension in a person coming to a knowledge of the truth, our moral, emotional and spiritual condition means that enlightenment involves revelation. By “revelation” I mean moments (epiphanies) where we gain a sudden change of perspective that involves us morally, emotionally and spiritually. In other words, the enlightenment doesn’t come pure through a gradual process of academic study, although such may provide some ground work for the change, if only to demonstrate the barrenness of other options. Revelation, I suppose, contains an honest recognition of biases that we previously preferred not to recognise.
The Cross of Christ is a very fertile event for revelation. Rene Girard attributes modern sensitivity to the plight of victims discriminated against by powerful societal systems and interests, to the public and widely publicised (through the Bible itself) execution of innocent man enabled by the powerful and relatively virtuous and enlightened (in worldly terms), Roman Empire, which operated with the benefit of Greek philosophy and acted in this event at the behest of the civil and religious leaders of a nation who had experienced more Divine intervention and education than perhaps any other. Recognition of one’s own bias to blame the innocent rather than buck the system is needful to understand the Cross of Christ (more on this later).
Another revelation at the Cross is the revelation of another kind of righteousness of God. In the Apostle Paul great exposition of the Gospel in his letter to the Roman church, he contrasts the general revelation of God to all under heaven, with the special revelation at the Cross. The general revelation includes knowledge of Divine righteousness expressed as God (or gods) being angry with human wickedness, but the special revelation of Divine righteousness is expressed as God making us righteous apart from Law through the faith of Jesus who propitiate (absorb) human wrath by submitting to the shedding of His own blood.
I think the Bible represents an progressive revelation of God, albeit a case of two steps forward and one step back at times. Individuals who experienced revelation wrote down what they witnessed. Their insights about God and His ways were not I believe vague gropings in the dark, as critics might suppose. I think the effect of revelation on the prophets was not a giving of any sort second sight which the rest of us are left to wonder or be skeptical about, but more about a regaining the kind of sight that is the birthright of every human being, if we could but receive it – as other have said, ” I was blind, but now I see.”
I think it is akin to having a troublesome jigsaw puzzle rearranged in front of you and suddenly the emerging picture is obvious, and beautiful. Others who are prejudiced against the new arrangement of pieces, and who are themselves too far off or too close to appreciated the new schema, may scoff at the supposed vision, but to the one who sees things more coherently and wonderfully than ever before, the revelation is beyond doubt and they preach it with conviction. Some of their constructs may not be quite right in their edifice but the keystone is in place. God is love.