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Holy Scripture Teaches Natural Theology

The many good purposes of natural theology

The heavens declare the glory of God,

And the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,

Whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world. (Ps. 19:1-4a)[1]

With these words, David begins a Psalm which elegantly describes two ways in which God is revealed to man: Nature (Ps. 19:1-4) and Word (Ps. 19:7-14). But what do these words mean? The sky proclaims, the day speaks, the night reveals knowledge; but, without speech, words, or voice, “their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” One of my sons asked me this very question the other night. I pointed him to the heavens, and we talked about how the very existence of our universe, the beauty of the night sky, of the forest, of even little plants like mushrooms that grow under the foliage, all point to the glory of God. Their very existence, beauty, and goodness, are like words joyfully proclaiming, “We are His creation. He made us, and He made you.” Without words, without language, without any articulate sounds, the Cosmos says, “God is a great, almighty, and provident Creator.” Commenting these verses, John Calvin says,

There is certainly nothing so obscure or contemptible, even in the smallest corners of the earth, in which some marks of the power and wisdom of God may not be seen; but as a more distinct image of him is engraven on the heavens, David has particularly selected them for contemplation, that their splendour might lead us to contemplate all parts of the world. When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens, has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and to admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest plants.[2]

For Calvin, all of creation, from the heavens to the smallest plants, display that God is, and that God is powerful and wise. Not just creation in general, but each part of creation, reflects, is engraved with, and displays divine power and wisdom.[3] That Nature displays the existence, power, and wisdom of God is a truth that all Christians have consistently affirmed as the clear teaching of Scriptures. This truth is what the term “Natural Revelation” points to. But, can man understand this revelation? Can man through his reasoned observations of the Cosmos, come to know something of God? This, the question of whether a “Natural Theology” is possible, is a question which has been hotly debated in Reformed circles over the past century, and it is this question that we will seek to answer through a historically grounded interpretation of a number of key Bible passages.[4] In this article, we have two goals, first, to consider what the Bible teaches about Natural Theology, and, second, to consider the purposes of Natural Revelation and Theology. For Calvin, all of creation, from the heavens to the smallest plants, display that God is, and that God is powerful and wise. Click To Tweet

Holy Scripture Teaches Natural Theology

In this section, we will briefly defend the historic Christian interpretation of Scriptures, by which the Scriptures affirm not only that God is revealed in Nature, but that man is able to understand that revelation and acquire a natural knowledge of God. There are a number of Scripture passages, from both Testaments, which could be cited to support the doctrine of Natural Theology, however, we will limit ourselves to two groups of texts: (1) Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:19-20, and (2) Psalm 104, Acts 14:15-17, and Acts 17:24-28. These texts are grouped together because of common themes found in the two groups. The first group of texts emphasizes a natural knowledge of God’s existence, power, and divine nature. The second group puts the accent on a natural knowledge of God’s goodness to man through his provident ordering of the Cosmos.[5]

Naturally Knowing the Divine Nature

Psalm 19:1-6, as we saw above, suggests that the Universe reveals God’s glory and greatness. However, as James Barr has rightly pointed out, “some would say, [adhering to a Barthian or Van Tillian denial of Natural Theology] the heavenly bodies indeed declare the glory of God, but the declaration that they make is one unintelligible and inaccessible to humans.”[6] That is, Natural Revelation is possible but not Natural Theology. Such an interpretation, however, runs into a problem that we could call “the goose and the gander problem.” As noted above, Psalm 19 is composed of two main parts: (1) Nature’s revelation of God—Psalm 19:1-6, and (2) God’s self-revelation in divinely revealed Scriptures—Psalm 19:7-11.[7] What is true of the first part must be taken as true of the second part. That is, if man can obtain no knowledge of God from Natural Revelation, though it clearly reveals God, then man can obtain no knowledge of God from Special Revelation. The inverse would also be true: If Special Revelation reveals truth about God that man can and does know, then so does Natural Revelation. That which Natural Revelation reveals about God—that He is, that he is powerful and wise, and so on—is known as Natural Theology. According to this passage, we know that God is the glorious creator of the Cosmos; there is, therefore, a Natural Theology.[8] If man can obtain no knowledge of God from Natural Revelation, though it clearly reveals God, then man can obtain no knowledge of God from Special Revelation. Click To Tweet

Calvin, in fact, goes further in his explanation of this passage. He notes not only what we know of God, but also how we know it. He says,

David shows how it is that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely, by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect. When we behold the heavens, we cannot but be elevated, by the contemplation of them, to Him who is their great Creator; and the beautiful arrangement and wonderful variety which distinguish the courses and station of the heavenly bodies, together with the beauty and splendour which are manifest in them, cannot but furnish us with an evident proof of his providence. Scripture, indeed, makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands: and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory. As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power.[9]

Calvin appears, in this section, to be appealing to the well-known classical theistic argument from the ordered structure and beauty of the Cosmos. The particular form of the argument which he is referring to is what I have called, elsewhere, the “Ciceronian argument from Beauty,” found in Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods. Continuing his commentary, Calvin notes that though the philosophers may have a better understanding of how the stars are ordered, “to the ignorant and unlettered, the continual succession of days is a more undoubted proof of the providence of God.”[10] For Calvin, then, one of the key points of this passage is that though it may be possible to delve into the fabric of the cosmos and to construct elaborate arguments about it, the very wondrous and beautiful existence of the Cosmos is itself sufficient to prove that God is.

Concerning the language “spoken” by the heavens, Calvin notes that “Different nations differ from each other as to language; but the heavens have a common language to teach all men without distinction, nor is there any thing but their own carelessness to hinder even those who are most strange to each other, and who live in the most distant parts of the world, from profiting, as it were, at the mouth of the same teacher.”[11] Not only is God revealed in the heavens, but He is revealed in a way that is readily understood by all humans, regardless of culture, language, or education.[12] It is so manifest, and obvious to even the uneducated, says Calvin, that we are without excuse for not worshipping this powerful and wise creator.[13]

Perhaps we might conclude this discussion of Psalm 19 by pointing out that if we read it as culminating in David’s prayer for purity (Ps. 19:12-14), it seems that we must understand the knowledge of God’s glory and justice, revealed in Nature and in Scripture, as that which brings David to his knees in worship and in prayer, and creates a desire for holiness.

Turning from the Old to the New Testament, we turn to Romans 1:19-20, which has been traditionally understood as teaching that God is not only revealed in the Cosmos, but that through this natural revelation man is able to know that God is, and something of the divine nature, such as His power. Natural Theology flows naturally from Natural Revelation. This natural knowledge of God is so obvious “in the things that have been made (Rom. 1:20)” that man is without excuse for suppressing this knowledge and for his idolatrous worship of anything and everything other than God. In these verses, Paul is so clearly thinking of Psalm 19:1-6 that we could read Romans 1:19-20 as a New Testament commentary on this passage.[14] Not only is God revealed in the heavens, but He is revealed in a way that is readily understood by all humans, regardless of culture, language, or education. Click To Tweet

As clear as such a verse may appear, not all interpreters have read this passage to be teaching Natural Theology. Some Twentieth Century interpreters, such as Cornelius Van Til and Karl Barth, have argued that though humans may have once been able to know something of God through Nature, this ability was lost with the Fall. Both Van Til and Barth also seem to suggest that this is Calvin’s own interpretation of Romans 1:19-20.[15] This is, however, neither Calvin’s, nor the traditional, nor even the proper, interpretation of Romans 1:19-20.[16]

Rather, that Paul is here teaching that there is a Natural Theology is made evident by (1) the relation of these verses to Psalm 19. (2) The very argument of Romans 1:19-3:23 requires us to understand Romans 1:19-20 as teaching that there is a Natural Theology. These verses mentioned conclude that all men are responsible for and guilty of sin (both idolatry and immorality), and, therefore, are rightly judged by God. Paul’s appeal to Natural Theology in Romans 1 is used to prove that even the pagans, without special revelation and divine oracles, are responsible for worshipping God and guilty for not doing so. Finally, (3) the very language used in these verses, to support this argument, points to a Natural Theology which is as present to man now as it was before the Fall. Douglas Moo reminds us that, “Scholars have long recognized that the Greek aorist tense does not, in itself, indicate ‘one-time’ action; it can depict action of all kinds, including continuous and repeated action. Some grammarians would go even further and claim that the aorist (even in the indicative mood) has, in itself, no indication of time of action either.”[17] Why is this important? Because, as Moo rightly suggests, though the Barthian/Van Tillian interpretation of this passage

has certain undeniable strengths …[it] cannot finally be accepted. The tense Paul uses in vv. 19-31 need not indicate a single past experience; and, more important, this view fails to explain the heart of this passage: the characterization of all those upon whom the wrath of God falls as those who possessed the truth of God but turned from it. Paul says more than that all people experienced the consequences of an original turning away from God, or even that all people shared such an original turning away. He insists that those who turned were also those who knew better, and who are consequently deserving of God’s wrath. This, coupled with the obviously universal thrust of vv. 18 and 32, make clear that this foolish and culpable rejection of the knowledge of God is repeated in every generation, by every individual. Every person is ‘without excuse’ because every person—whether a first-century pagan or a twentieth-century materialist—has been given a knowledge of God and has spurned that knowledge in favor of idolatry, in all its varied manifestations. All therefore stand under the awful reality of the wrath of God, and all are in desperate need of the justifying power of the gospel of Christ.[18]

Paul is teaching, in this passage, the same truth which is taught in Psalm 19:1-6: (1) the Cosmos clearly manifests, so clearly that one can almost hear words of their song, that God is, and that God is the eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, good and provident Creator; (2) this revelation is given to, and can be understood by, all men everywhere;[19] and, (3) Natural Theology rightly leads to worship. Paul adds to these truths the equally clear consequence, that (4) the clarity of the message coupled with man’s suppression of it is the grounds for the just judgment of God on all men everywhere. Paul’s use of Natural Theology is evangelistic—that is, designed to turn men towards the Creator God who not only provided for man’s bodily needs, but who, by sending his Son, also provided for man’s spiritual needs. Click To Tweet

Naturally Knowing Divine Goodness

We turn, now, to another selection of passages which can be grouped together because of the emphasis that they put on the fact that the goodness and providence of the Creator are revealed in the beauty, structure, and order of nature. Psalm 104:5-24, for example, emphasizes the provident goodness and wisdom of God towards all creatures, extending to all men, the good and the bad. The Psalmist praises God for his providence towards man by saying “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Furthermore, the days and seasons are ordered for the good of man and beast (Ps. 104:19-23, 27-30), revealing divine providence. Through his many works God’s wisdom is seen (Ps. 104:24). Recognizing God’s goodness, providence, and wisdom in the ordering of creation drives the Psalmist to worship God (Ps. 104:31-35).

In Acts 14 and 17, we find two records of two of Paul’s sermons to the pagans. In both passages Paul points the pagans to the goodness and providence of the Creator. In Acts 14:8-18, the people of Lystra see Paul perform a miracle, and recognize that this can only be done by the divine. However, in their ignorance, they attribute this miracle to two of the Greek gods. When Paul corrects this grievous error, he points the pagans to Nature. He says, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them … Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:15, 17). In words that closely resemble the main point of Psalm 104, Paul uses Natural Theology to correct the pagan idolatrous beliefs about the divine, pointing them to the one true God who is the good and provident Creator of all. We see that God is, by the “witness” of Nature, because he never ceases to satisfy us and make us happy by providing for our needs.

Paul uses the exact same tactic in Acts 17, with the Greeks in Athens, when he says “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:24, 26-27a). Note, here, that Paul again points to the structure and ordering of the Cosmos, and God’s provision of life and all that man needs, as signs which were established so that mankind would seek and find God. As with Psalm 104, and the sermon to the Laodiceans in Acts 14, Paul here uses Nature to turn men to God. That is, Paul’s use of Natural Theology is evangelistic—that is, designed to turn men towards the Creator God who not only provided for man’s bodily needs, but who, by sending his Son, also provided for man’s spiritual needs. In so doing, he again notes that Natural theology should cause man to worship their Creator.

The Purpose of Natural Theology

John Chrysostom, commenting Roman 1:19-20, says, “it was not for this [that man might be without excuse] God made these things, even if this came of it. For it was not to bereave them of all excuse, that He set before them so great a system of teaching, but that they might come to know Him. But by not having recognized Him they deprived themselves of every excuse.”[20] This, however, seems to fly in the face of some who seem to think that the sole purpose of Natural Revelation is nothing but to make man without excuse. Though this has indeed been the effect of man’s response to Natural Revelation (just as it is the effect of man’s rejection of Special Revelation), the historical Christian interpretation of Scriptures repudiates this emasculated understanding of the purpose of Natural Revelation and Theology. What, then, is the purpose of Natural Theology?

In light of what we have already seen, it may only be necessary to quickly summarize our findings. First of all, every passage we have seen teaches that the primary goal of Natural Revelation is to reveal the truths that “God is”, and that “God is the glorious, all-powerful, all-wise, and provident Creator of the Cosmos.” That is, the purpose of Natural Revelation, like the Scriptures, is that mankind would know something true of God.[21] Not, of course, that God is triune, or that salvation is found only in His Son, but that God is, and something of His nature.[22] In other words, the purpose of Natural Revelation is Natural Theology. Every passage we have seen teaches that the primary goal of Natural Revelation is to reveal the truths that “God is”, and that “God is the glorious, all-powerful, all-wise, and provident Creator of the Cosmos.” Click To Tweet

Of course, “knowing” truths about God (Natural Theology) is not the only purpose of Natural Revelation, just as “knowing” truths about God’s plan for the salvation of the elect is not the only purpose of Special Revelation. Rather, knowledge of the truth is always accompanied by an appetitive and volitional aspect: to worship and desire or to hate, to assent to or to reject. And, indeed, we have seen that a related goal of Natural Theology is to turn men towards God, to worship their Creator.[23] We also saw that Paul used Natural Theology when he preached the Gospel to the pagans—giving it an evangelistic purpose—appealing to men’s hearts that they turn from their willful ignorance to the true God and to salvation in His Son. A final purpose that may be noted, based upon Psalm 19, is a sanctifying goal. That is, to know that there is a good and provident creator who is the very source of your being should motivate you to use that being to glorify Him and to live an upright life.[24]


[1] All Bible quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the ESV.

[2] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. James Anderson (Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Printing Company for The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 1:308-9.

[3] The Anglican divine, John Ray, wrote an entire volume, titled The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (London: William Innys & Richard Manby, 1835), about how the wisdom of God is revealed in the wonders of creation, opening with Psalm 104:24: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

[4] Natural Theology could be simply described as “natural knowledge of God”, or, as that which is known of God from our reasoned observations of, and reflections upon, the sensible cosmos—with or without the aid of Special Revelation. Natural Theology is to the sensible cosmos what Biblical Theology is to the Bible.

[5] Both of these themes clearly resemble the classical approaches to natural knowledge of God, as found in Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero.

[6] James Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology (Oxford: Clarendon Press/Oxford Press, 1993), 86.

[7] This is the traditional way of outlining Psalm 19. Cf., Barr, BFNT, 87. Calvin, CBP, 1: 308. Karl Barth, The Doctrine of Creation, vol. 3 of Church Dogmatics, trans. J. W. Edwards, O. Bussey, Harold Knight (1958; repr., Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1970), 1: 164§41. It is worth noting that some interpreters of Psalm 19 have suggested that there is nothing in vv. 7-11 which requires us to understand the “law” to be referring to the Mosaic Law (Barr, BFNT, 88). Could these verses be taken to refer to the Natural Law, ground in the Eternal law, enshrined and revealed in the 10 commandments, and available to all of mankind? If so, then this entire Psalm is a testimony to what is revealed in Nature of God, and of man’s duty to God. Calvin follows the traditional interpretation of this Psalm, when he understands the second part to be referring to the divine law in the 10 commandments and the Covenant (Calvin, CBP, 1:317).

[8] Indeed, this is the reason why key Reformed Theologians, such as Francis Turretin, dogmatically said that “The orthodox, on the contrary, uniformly teach that there is a natural theology” (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992), 1:6). What is the reason for this affirmation? The Scriptures clearly testify to a natural knowledge of God, and, specifically, Psalm 19:1, “God has given to man both an innate and acquired knowledge of himself as the following passages prove: Ps. 19:1; Acts 14:15-17; 17:23; Rom. 1:19, 20” (Turretin, IET, 1:7). Just as Turretin affirms that the denial of Natural Theology, and the claim that God is known only through Special Revelation, is a Socinian heresy (Turretin, IET, 1:6); so Stephen Charnock also says, “the Socinians use this [that salvific knowledge of God is only received by faith from the Scriptures] to decry any natural knowledge of God and to hold that the existence of God is to be known only by revelation, so that by reason anyone who lived without the Scripture has no ground to believe the being of a God” (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, ed. Mark Jones (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 1:47). Charnock, in the volume cited, calls upon the same verses as Turretin to show that the Scriptures teach that there is a Natural Theology.

[9] Calvin, CBP, 1:309. Italics mine.

[10] Calvin, CBP, 1:310.

[11] Calvin, CBP, 1:312. It is worth noting, here, that when Calvin turns to the second part of this Psalm, he reminds us that though the cosmos continually testify to God, such that we cannot but hear it, we are blinded by sin, and, therefore, this clear testimony only serves to condemn us (Calvin, CBP, 1:317). In case any might think that Calvin has taken back with the left, what he just gave with the right, he notes, in his commentary on Romans 1:19-20, that “We are not however so blind, that we can plead our ignorance as an excuse for our perverseness. We conceive that there is a Deity; and then we conclude, that whoever he may be, he ought to be worshipped: but our reason here fails, because it cannot ascertain who or what sort of being God is” (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, trans. and ed. John Owen (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 849), 71).

[12] Barr also emphasizes the “universality of the heavenly speech,” noting, “As everyone on earth receives the heat of the sun, we are entitled to conclude, so everyone on earth receives the language of the heavens or some impression of it.” (Barr, BFNT, 87-88).

[13] Cf. Calvin, CBP, 1:317.

[14] Indeed, this has been suggested by one great patristic commentator, John Chrysostom (John Chrysostom, The Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, trans. J. B. Morris [Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841], 36). Sanday and Headlam note that the argument Paul is referring to, by which we move from the nature of the cosmos to the character of its creator, is grounded in the Old Testament. They point us to: “Ps.xix.1; xcivv. 9; cxliii. 5; Is. xlii. 5; xlv. 18; Job xii. 9; xxvi. 14; xxxvi. 24 ff.; Wisd. ii. 23; xiii. 1, 5, &c.” (William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 5th ed. (1902; repr., Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1971), 43.)

[15] Cornelius Van Til, says as much in his Introduction to Systematic Theology, when he says, “Accordingly, it must now be added, as Calvin points out so fully on the basis of Paul’s words, that God is displayed before men in the works of his hands. This means that God, not some sort of God or some higher principle, but God, the true God, is displayed before men. That is the fact of the matter, whether men recognize it or not. Paul does mention the power of God in particular as the attribute that comes most prominently to the foreground, but he also says that men have the divinity (Theiotes) displayed before them. This does not mean that God is as fully displayed in nature as he is in the gospel of Christ…All too often it has been argued that on the basis of nature or by natural theology man should be able to establish the existence of a God, while it is only by Christ and through grace that we can know anything more fully about the nature of this God. Now it is true that we have the fullest revelation of the nature of God in Christ. On the other hand, it is also true that when man was created in paradise, he knew not merely of the existence of God, but he knew the nature of God as far as it had been revealed to him. It is for the loss of this actual knowledge of the nature of God that man, when he became a sinner, must be held responsible. If this is not done, men will be looked upon merely as unfortunates who have not had the good fortune of having had the right information about God” (An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 of In Defense of the Faith (1974; repr., Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1982), 100). Cf. Van Til, IST, 81.

Karl Barth can be seen interpreting Paul and Calvin this way in his response to Emil Brunner, “NO!”, where he says, “in contrast to Brunner he [Calvin] said about a natural knowledge of God through creation only what is said about it in Romans i, 19 f.; ii, 14 f.; Acts xiv, 15 f.; xvii, 24 f. He did not regard it as a capacity which man has retained and which has to be reconstituted by faith, as a point of contact for revelation and for the new life in Christ” (Karl Barth, NO!, in Natural Theology, ed. John Baillie (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2002), 105.). Barth continues, “The possibility of a real knowledge by natural man of the true God, derived from creation, is, according to Calvin, a possibility in principle, but not in fact, not a possibility to be realised by us. One might call it an objective possibility, created by God, but not a subjective possibility, open to man. Between what is possible in principle and what is possible in fact there inexorably lies the fall. Hence this possibility can only be discussed hypothetically: si integer stetisset Adam (Inst., I, ii, I). Man does not merely in part not have this possibility; he does not have it at all. (Barth, NO!, 106.)” Cf. Barth, No!, 108. C. E. B. Cranfield seems to agree with Barth and Van Til (C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans (1975; repr., London: T&T Clark, 2003), 1:116-17).

[16] Cf. Calvin, CEPAR, 69-73. Barr, BFNT, 109-10.

[17] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996), 98fn21.

[18] Moo, ER, 98.

[19] John Murray, Van Til’s colleague at Westminster, agrees with the traditional interpretation of Romans 1:19-20, against Van Til, suggesting that “We must not tone down the teaching of the apostle in this passage. It is a clear declaration to the effect that the visible creation as God’s handiwork makes manifest the invisible perfections of God as its Creator, that from the things which are perceptible to the senses cognition of these invisible perfections is derived, and that thus a clear apprehension of God’s perfections may be gained from his observable handiwork” (John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968], 40).

[20] Chrysostom, HEPR, 36.

[21] Cf. Calvin, CEPAR, 70-72.

[22] This is one of the main points of the first book of Calvin’s Institutes. Hilary of Poitiers makes this point beautifully in his De Trinitate (The Trinity, trans. Stephen McKenna [1954; repr., Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 1968], 11-15).

[23] Cf. Edward Leigh, A Treatise of Divinity, 3 vols. (London: E. Griffin for William Lee, 1646), 3: 20-22. John Arndt (1555-1621), referencing Psalm 19, agrees with the Anglican Edward Leigh, when he points out that “all creatures invite us to praise God” (True Christianity: A treatise on Sincere Repentance, True Faith, The Holy Walk of the True Christian, etc., trans. A. W. Boehm, ed. Charles F. Schaeffer [Philadelphia: The Lutheran Book Store, 1868], 314).

[24] This can be seen not only in Psalm 19, but also in the writings of the Pre-Socratic philosophers, the Platonists, and Aristotle: to know God one must be pure. Stephen Charnock appears to suggest that Natural Theology is a remedy for practical atheism (Charnock, EAG, 1:45, 137ff).

David Haines

David Haines (PhD, Université Laval) is Assistant professor of philosophy and theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary, associate professor of philosophy and religion at VIU, lecturer in philosophy and dogmatics with Davenant Hall, and lecturer in philosophy at Université de Sherbrooke. His academic research and publications focus on Ancient and Medieval philosophy, C. S. Lewis, Thomism, early reformed thought, natural law, and natural theology.

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