Revelation is an uncovering or disclosure via communication from the divine of something that has been partially or wholly hidden or unknown, "which could not be known apart from the unveiling" (Goswiller 1987 p. 3). In monotheistic religions, revelation is the process, or act of making divine information known, often through direct ontological realization which transcends the human state and reaches into the divine intellect. Revelation in a religious sense is that which God, a god, or other supernatural being such as an angel makes known about divine will, principles, laws and doctrines, although the realized principle can also be interpreted as the realizing principle.
Most religions have religious texts they view as sacred. Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are wholly divine or spiritually inspired in origin. Monotheistic religions often view their sacred texts as the "Word of God," often feeling that the texts are inspired by God. There are a number of ways that religious thinkers have traditionally approached this topic.
In the 20th century, religious existentialists proposed that revelation held no content in of itself; rather, they hold that God inspired people with His presence by coming into contact with them. In this view the Bible is a human response that records how we responded to God.
Revelation or information from a supernatural source is of much lesser importance in some other religious traditions. It is not of great importance in the Asian religions Taoism, and Confucianism but similarities have been noted between the Abrahamic view of revelation and the Buddhist principle of Enlightenment.
Paul Johannes Tillich (1886–1965) was a theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher. Tillich was, along with contemporary Karl Barth, one of the more influential Protestant theologians of the twentieth century.
Tillich's approach to Protestant theology was highly systematic. He sought to correlate culture and faith such that "faith need not be unacceptable to contemporary culture and contemporary culture need not be unacceptable to faith". Consequently, Tillich's orientation is apologetic, seeking to make concrete theological answers that are applicable to ordinary daily life. This contributed to his popularity because it made him easily accessible to lay readers. In a broader perspective, revelation is understood as the fountainhead of religion. Tillich sought to reconcile revelation and reason by arguing that revelation never runs counter to reason (affirming Thomas Aquinas who said that faith is eminently rational), but both poles of the subjective human experience are complementary.
Tillich's radical departure from traditional Christian theology is his view of Christ. According to Tillich, Christ is the "New Being", who rectifies in himself the alienation between essence and existence. Essence fully shows itself within Christ, but Christ is also a finite man. This indicates, for Tillich, a revolution in the very nature of being. The gap is healed and essence can now be found within existence. Thus for Tillich, Christ is not God per se in himself, but Christ is the revelation of God. Whereas traditional Christianity regards Christ as wholly man and wholly God, Tillich believed that Christ was the emblem of the highest goal of man, what God wants men to become. Thus to be a Christian is to make oneself progressively "Christ-like", a very possible goal in Tillich's eyes. In other words, Christ is not God in the traditional sense, but reveals the essence inherent in all existence, including mine and your own. Thus Christ is not different from you or me except insofar as he fully reveals God within his own finitude, something you and I can also do in principle.
"God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him."
Editor's note: see Panentheism
Revelation is evolutionary but always progressive. Down through the ages of a world's history, the revelations of religion are ever-expanding and successively more enlightening. It is the mission of revelation to sort and censor the successive religions of evolution. But if revelation is to exalt and upstep the religions of evolution, then must such divine visitations portray teachings which are not too far removed from the thought and reactions of the age in which they are presented. Thus must and does revelation always keep in touch with evolution. Always must the religion of revelation be limited by man's capacity of receptivity. (92:4.1)