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#57051 Fri Oct 15, 2021 8:24 PM
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Tom Offline OP
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Natural Theology
I was on a Reformed board recently and the topic was Natural Theology. Some of the discussion was going over my head, because I have never actually looked into ‘Natural Theology’ before.
I decided to look into what is was, before I decided whether or not to participate in the discussion. The first link I noticed in my Google search was a Greg Bahnsen article. https://defenseofaith.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/greg-bahnsens-critique-of-natural-theology/
In the article Greg Bahnsen had a section called: “Five problems for natural theology”.
As I was reading these Five problems, to be quite frank I could not understand how someone Reformed could possibly because in natural theology.
For example number two says
Quote
2) It thinks that the unbeliever can be fair and open-minded and use right reason and will affirm a portion of religious truth upon the strength of the evidence.
-Scripture views the unbeliever prejudiced about God, having a pre-judgment against the God of the Bible. He is closed-minded and suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.-Only grace takes evidence and makes it plain to the eyes of the sinner.
I decided to participate in the thread, by using what I have learned in these five points.
However, the response I received I found a bit confusing. It almost seemed like it was talking about something different.
For example, the following is a response I got.
Quote
Tom Hardy our confession (1689) if we hold to that, does not assume via Natural Theology “unbelievers can *come to Christ* This from Turretin via Daniel is helpful
https://www.baptistdogmatics.com/.../onapjzzffz1whi42a8iu...
Anything, that might help would be appreciated.

Tom

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Romans 1 teaches that what can be known about God, namely His power and deity:

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Romans 1:18-22 (ASV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, [even] his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, ...
Notice that Paul first states that he is not ashamed of the Gospel for IT is the power of God unto salvation; not what can and is known about God from the creation. Secondly, notice that the WRATH of God is revealed from the things that are perceived.

1. The existence and power of the Creator, Almighty God are clearly perceptive from the natural (created) world. And that which is perspicuous to the natural man is hated and rejected and that ALL mankind substitutes a fabricated lie for that truth.

2. Morality also is included in Natural Theology as Paul teaches in Romans 2:

Quote
Romans 2:12-16 (ASV) 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; 13 for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified: 14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; 15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing [them]); 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.
ALL mankind knows within them that which is bad, evil, sinful because the law of God is innately known due to the fact that all are created in the image of God. But knowing what is right only brings condemnation upon men because they knowingly and willingly do those things which are contrary to the commandments of God.

Thus, natural theology exists, but it produces nothing in man which will bring him to salvation in Christ, nor even to worship God who is revealed in nature. EVERY man, woman and child from conception naturally opposes the one true God and hates what can be known about Him from what can and is naturally perceived. One must guard against building an edifice of doctrine using natural theology other than what is clearly taught in Scripture. Many have gone "off the rails" with their musings and alleged deductions from what is seen, rather than what God has revealed in His written Word. The world MUST be understood through Scripture alone for it is God's own interpretation of what He has made.


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Tom #57054 Sat Oct 16, 2021 11:37 PM
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Pilgrim

You basically said what my understanding of Natural Theology is. Yet, I am a little confused, Greg Bahsen seemed to indicate that those who believe in "Natural Theology" believed that it assumes that it can indeed by reason alone lead someone to Christ. However, people that say they use Natural Theology do not believe it can lead someone to Christ without Special Revelation. It would seem, someone is misunderstanding something.

Tom

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There is sufficient revelation in nature to CONDEMN men, but the only way of salvation is CHRIST as He is revealed in the Scriptures ("special revelation").

Robin #57058 Sun Oct 17, 2021 5:10 AM
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I echo Robin's response. The Scriptures are clear as a bell on this as Paul, by the inspiration of the Spirit wrote:

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Romans 1:16-21 (ASV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, [even] his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.
Whoever believes that "Natural Theology" can lead someone to salvation in Christ, 1) cannot believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability, and 2) that knowledge of Christ isn't necessary for salvation. For Natural Theology in and of itself reveals nothing of the Son of God becoming man, living a perfect righteous life, being crucified as the Lamb of God (the antecedently absolutely necessary substitutionary atonement), the death of Christ and His resurrection. Nor does it reveal the absolute necessity of the supernatural new birth and power of the Spirit giving and leading a sinner to repentance and faith in Christ.... etc. (cf. Rom 10:14-17; 1Cor 1:18-24; 1Thess 2:13; 2Thess 2:13,14; 1Pet 1:23-25)


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Pilgrim #57073 Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
I echo Robin's response. The Scriptures are clear as a bell on this as Paul, by the inspiration of the Spirit wrote:

Quote
Romans 1:16-21 (ASV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, [even] his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.
Whoever believes that "Natural Theology" can lead someone to salvation in Christ, 1) cannot believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability, and 2) that knowledge of Christ isn't necessary for salvation. For Natural Theology in and of itself reveals nothing of the Son of God becoming man, living a perfect righteous life, being crucified as the Lamb of God (the antecedently absolutely necessary substitutionary atonement), the death of Christ and His resurrection. Nor does it reveal the absolute necessity of the supernatural new birth and power of the Spirit giving and leading a sinner to repentance and faith in Christ.... etc. (cf. Rom 10:14-17; 1Cor 1:18-24; 1Thess 2:13; 2Thess 2:13,14; 1Pet 1:23-25)
To a lesser extent, substitute Classical Apologetics for Natural Theology and the same applies. I don’t believe there is a better substitute than leading with the Word, nor should acceptance of the hearer be presupposed. But that cannot impact what we know to be true, nor can we sacrifice anything….

Last edited by Anthony C.; Fri Oct 22, 2021 1:51 PM.

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