“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
Order of Contents
Anthology of the Post-Reformation
Heppe (1820–1879) was a German reformed theologian.
Junius, Francis – ch. 10, ‘Natural Theology’ in A Treatise on True Theology trans. David Noe (RHB, 2014)
Bucanus, William – 1. ‘Of God’ in Institutions of Christian Religion... (London: Snowdon, 1606), pp. 1-13
Alsted, Johann Heinrich – ‘On Natural Theology’ in Methodus SS. Theologiae in VI Libros Tributa (Hanover, 1634), pp. 46-48
Leigh, Edward – ch. 1. That there is a God in A System or Body of Divinity… (London, A.M., 1654), bk. 2, pp. 121-32
Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology, tr. George M. Giger, ed. James Dennison Jr. (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 1
3, ‘Whether natural theology may be granted.’ 6
4, ‘Is natural theology sufficient for salvation; or is there a common religion by which all promiscuously may be saved? We deny against the Socinians and Remonstrants.’ 9-16
1. ‘Can the Existence of God be irrefutably demonstrated against atheists? We affirm.’ 169-77
Turretin, Francis – 3rd Topic, ‘The One & Triune God’, 1st Question, ‘Can the Existence of God be irrefutably demonstrated against Atheists? We Affirm.’ in Institutes (1992), pp. 169-177. See an excerpt: ‘Nature Proves the Existence of God’.
a Brakel (1635-1711) was a contemporary of Voet and Witsius and was a major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation.
De Moor, Bernard – Continuous Commentary
12. Natural Theology: Innate
14. Universal Doubt?
15. Idea & Existence of God
16. Theology of Adam & as Fallen
17. Socinians Deny Natural Theology
18. Object of Natural Theology
19. Insufficiency of for Salvation
20. Objections of Pelagians & Socinians
21. Natural & Revealed Theology: Agreement & Difference
22. End of Natural Theology
10. Arguments for the Existence of God: Conscience
10. Arguments for the Existence of God: Nature, pt. 1, 2, 3, 4
10. Arguments for the Existence of God: Scripture
10. Spanheim’s Arguments for the Existence of God
10. Buddeus on the Insanity of Atheism
Cunningham was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.
In regard to the whole volume of lectures, Cunningham “had bestowed much care and labor upon their composition and revision, and that he had attached a special value to them as the first-fruits of his professional labors.”
Plantinga, Alvin – ‘Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments’ 19 pp. Unpublished lecture notes. Appended to this edition is bio material from Wikipedia and his ‘Spiritual Autobiography’.
Plantinga (b. 1932) is a Christian, American, analytical philosopher. These unpublished lecture notes have been widely influential. The theistic arguments are:
1. From Intentionality (or Aboutness)
2. From Collections
3. From (Natural) Numbers
4. From Counterfactuals
5. From Physical Constants
6. Naive Teleological Argument
7. Tony Kenny’s Style of Teleological Argument
8. From Positive Epistemic Status
9. From the Confluence of Proper Function & Reliability
10. From Simplicity
11. From Induction
12. The Putnamian Argument (from the Rejection of Global Skepticism)
13. From Reference
14. The Kripke-Wittgenstein Argument From Plus & Quus
15. The General Arguement from Intuition
16. Moral Arguments (actually R1 to Rn)
17. From Evil
18. From Colors & Flavors
19. From Love
20. The Mozart Argument
21. From Play & Enjoyment
22. From Providence & Miracles
23. C.S. Lewis’s Argument from Nostalgia
24. From the Meaning of Life
25. The Argument from (a) to (Y)
Sudduth, Michael – ‘Revisiting the ‘Reformed Objection’ to Natural Theology’ European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (2009), pp. 37–62
Sudduth argues against Alvin Plantinga’s objection to Natural Theology. Regretfully, Sudduth, since writing this article, has converted to polytheistic Hinduism and writes immoral novels as a professor of religion in the pluralistic university environment, though this does not affect the scholarship or helpfulness of this work.
Benzmüller, Christoph & Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo – ‘Experiments in Computational Metaphysics: Gödel’s Proof of God’s Existence’ Science & Spiritual Quest (2015) 16 pp.
“‘Computer scientists prove the existence of God’ — variants of this headline appeared in the international press in autumn 2013… This article outlines the main findings of the authors’ joint work in computational metaphysics. More precisely, the article focuses on their computer-supported analysis of variants and recent emendations of Kurt Gödel’s modern ontological argument for the existence of God. In the conducted experiments, automated theorem provers discovered some interesting and relevant facts.”
Bonnette, Dennis – “How God’s Nature Is Known: The Three-Fold Way” (2018)
Bonette is a Romanist and has been a long-time professor of philosophy.
“Classical metaphysics attains knowledge of God’s nature by means of an interpretation, mostly taken from the Christian Neo-Platonist Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (c. late fifth century) known as the via triplex or three-fold way. This entails (1) the way of causality (via causalitatis), (2) the way of remotion or negation (via remotionis), and (3) the way of eminence (via eminentiae).”
Abstract: “In this paper I seek to lay out the criteria for determining that some doctrine is necessary for protestant orthodoxy. I then apply these criteria to Natural Theology in order to discover if Natural Theology should be considered necessary to orthodoxy, whether it should be rejected as unorthodox, or whether it is an unnecessary doctrine of little importance.”
Abstract: “In this short treatise I will be considering the relationship between Van Til’s Presuppositionalism and Natural Theology, and will attempt to demonstrate that the philosophical foundations of this system force him into a Relativism of Interpretative Schemes, and, consequently, self-contradiction… It seems that if the Presuppositionalist system succumbs to these flaws, then its most difficult objections to the traditional understanding of Natural Theology do not hold. If this is the case, then we may be warranted in engaging in natural theology as traditionally understood.”
Abstract: “Natural Theology has traditionally been defined as that part of philosophy which explores that which man can know about God (his existence, divine nature, etc.) from nature, via his divinely bestowed faculty of reason; and, this, unaided by any divinely inspired written revelation. Defining Natural Theology this way seems to give value to the study of philosophy and encourages the use of philosophy in theology.
Since the early 1900’s, however, many Christian theologians have begun describing Natural Theology as the attempt to prove the truth of the Christian Religion, or worse, as the attempt to replace revealed truths with human ideas. These theologians often go on to claim that the only way that Natural Theology could be valuable, is if we first assume the truth of Christianity. In other words, the universe does not point to the existence of God, unless we first assume a religious position in which some God exists.
Though this approach is, in Christian apologetics, often associated with Cornelius Van Til’s Presuppositionalism; it is also known, to philosophers, as Perspectivalism. Other well-known theologians who seem to have adopted this approach to Natural Theology, include Alister McGrath, Fergus Kerr, and Wolfhart Pannenberg. In their opinion, Natural Theology has no other use than to provide Christians, if it does even this, with some form of existential certitude concerning the truth of Christianity. Natural Theology most certainly does not prove Theism, let alone the truth of the Christian Religion.
In this paper, I will begin with a short exposition of the positions of the contemporary theologians mentioned above. I will then attempt to refute these claims through (1) an historical exposition of the traditional approach to Natural Theology, and (2) a philosophical argument demonstrating the self-defeating nature of these claims.”
Payne, Andrew – ‘Classical Theism & Natural Theology in Early Reformed Doctrines of God’ in ed. David Haines, Without Excuse: Scripture, Reason & Presuppositional Apologetics Buy (Davenant Institute, 2020)
‘Oppy On Thomistic Cosmological Arguments’ Religious Studies, 57 (2021), pp. 503-22
Abstract: “Graham Oppy has criticized several Thomistic versions of the cosmological argument in a series of publications over the years, most recently in a Religious Studies article responding to my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God [below]. Here I reply to his criticisms, arguing that while Oppy raises important issues, a besetting weakness of his approach is a failure adequately to grapple with the metaphysical underpinnings of the arguments.”
‘Doubting Thomas’ (2022) 17 paragraphs This is a review of the book by Jeff Johnson, The Failure of Natural Theology…
Feser is a Romanist, analytical-Thomist professor of philosophy. Johnson is a Calvinistic baptist. Feser does a good job showing the blunders of Johnson in attribtuing beliefs to Aquinas that he does not hold, and in indicating some of the main failures of the thesis of Johnson’s book.
Charleton, Walter – The Darkness of Atheism Dispelled by the Light of Nature (London, 1652) 355 pp. ToC
Charleton (1620-1707) was an Anglican, natural philosopher.
“…the systematic attempt to use detailed natural phenomena to establish God’s existence, wisdom, benevolence, and so forth, becomes a significant philosophical movement in the seventeenth century, especially in Britain… Among the first [works] to appear were The Darkness of Atheism… (1652), by Walter Charleton…” – John Henry in Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, pp. 613-4
More, Henry – An Antidote Against Atheism; or, An Appeal to the Natural Faculties of the Mind of Man, whether there be not a God… with an Appendix 2nd ed. (1653; London, 1655) ToC
“…the systematic attempt to use detailed natural phenomena to establish God’s existence, wisdom, benevolence, and so forth, becomes a significant philosophical movement in the seventeenth century, especially in Britain… Among the first to appear were… An Antidote against Atheism (1653) by the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More (1614-87).” – John Henry in Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, pp. 613-4
Owen, John – bk. 1, ‘Natural Theology’ in Biblical Theology: the History of Theology from Adam to Christ (1661; SDG, 1994), pp. 1-144
Bentley, Richard – Eight Sermons, preached at the Honorable Robert Boyle’s Lecture, in the Year 1692, to which are Added Three Sermons on Different Occasions (d. 1742; Clarendon Press, 1809) ToC This includes, A Confutation of Atheism from the Origin & Frame of the World, a Sermon (London, 1692).
Bentley (1662-1742) was an English classical scholar, critic and theologian. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Bentley was the first lecturer for the Boyle Lectures, which began in 1692, founded upon the dying will of Robert Boyle (1627-1691), a Christian, natural philosopher. The main design of the lectureship was to counter atheism through examining the relationship between Christianity and the new natural philosophy then emerging in European society.
Bentley based his natural theology on the physics of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687), which was translated into English as The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1729).
Clarke, Samuel – A Discourse Concerning the Being & Attributes of God, the Obligations of Natural Religion & the Truth & Certainty of the Christian Revelation, in Answer to Mr. Hobbs, Spinoza… & other Deniers of Natural & Revealed Religion, being Sixteen Sermons… in the Years 1704 & 1705, at the Lecture founded by the Honorable Robert Boyle, Esq. 10th ed. (1705; London, 1767)
Clarke (1675–1729) was an English philosopher and Anglican clergyman. He is considered the major British figure in philosophy between John Locke and George Berkeley. Clarke was an Arian who wrote at length on and debated the Trinity, especially with Daniel Waterland, who defended orthodoxy.
Clarke held to Newtonian physics. His Discourse Concerning the Being & Attributes of God set the stage for further British debate which lasted till the middle of the century.
Ray, John – The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation, in Two Parts… with Answers to Some Objections (1714; London, 1735) Sermons
Ray (1627-1707) was a Cambridge professor, Anglican minister and an English naturalist, widely regarded as one of the earliest of the English parson-naturalists. He published important works on botany, zoology, and natural theology. His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, which classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation was an important step towards modern taxonomy. He was among the first to attempt a biological definition for the concept of species.
Astro-Theology, or a Demonstration of the Being & Attributes of God, from a Survey of the Heavens 6th ed. (1715; London, 1731) ToC
Derham (1657-1735) was an Anglican clergyman, natural theologian, natural philosopher and scientist. He produced the earliest, reasonably accurate measurement of the speed of sound.
This work “proved to be especially influential” (John Henry, Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, p. 614).
Paley, William – Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence & Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802; New York, 1879) ToC
Paley (1743-1805) was an Anglican clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher and utilitarian. He is best known for his teleological argument for the existence of God, which made use of the watchmaker analogy.
Fisher, George Park – Manual of Natural Theology (1893) 125 pp.
Vos, Geerhardus – Natural Theology ed. J.V. Fesko, trans. Albert Gootjes Buy (RHB, 2021)
See David Haines, “Geerhardus Vos on Natural Theology: A Review” at Ad Fontes.
Joyce, George Hayward – Principles of Natural Theology (1923) 648 pp.
“Another textbook style introduction to Natural Theology.” – David Haines
“A textbook style introduction to Natural Theology.” – David Haines
Anderson, James F. – Natural Theology: The Metaphysics of God (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1962)
“One of the best of the textbook style introductions to Natural Theology.” – David Haines
“This author is often seen (and accepts this portrayal, though somewhat bitterly) as a black sheep amongst Thomists. His work on the subject is, however, excellent.” – David Haines
Bahnsen, Greg – A Conditional Resolution of the Apparent Paradox of Self-Deception PhD Diss. (University of Southern California, 1978) 330 pp.
“This is Barr’s Gifford lectures. It is one of the most important analyses of Natural Theology in the Scriptures. Written by a theologian who was trained in the Barthian tradition, and was a Barthian, this work is in constant interaction with the Barthian rejection of Natural Theology.” – David Haines
Brunner, Emil & Karl Barth – Natural Theology, comprising ‘Nature & Grace’ by Professor Dr. Emil Brunner & the Reply ‘No!’ by Dr. Karl Barth trans. Peter Fraenkel (London, 1946) 125 pp. no ToC
“This book contains the 2 article debate that essentially ended the friendship between Emil Brunner and Karl Barth. Karl Barth reacted violently (as violently as an academic author can react in an article) to Emil Brunner’s claim that natural knowledge of God was possible on a certain level. This is essential reading for those who wish to understand Barth’s position on Natural Theology.” – David Haines
McGrath, Alister – The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008)
“This, along with McGrath’s more recent book ‘Re-Imagining Nature’, presents McGrath’s attempt to provide a ‘Christian Natural Theology’. McGrath has essentially accepted a Christian form of perspectivism, in which Nature or the natural cosmos are ambivalent to goodness, beauty, or truth. Nature tells us nothing about God unless we first adopt the Christian perspective. Ultimately this would be not only a rejection of the traditional Christian understanding of Natural Theology, but it would make discourse between proponents of different perspectives virtually impossible.” – David Haines
Gamble, Richard – Reclaiming Reason: Believer’s Think – Thinkers Believe (Lockerbie, Scotland: OPAL, 2013) 90 pp. ToC
“Michael Sudduth examines three prominent objections to natural theology that have emerged in the Reformed streams of the Protestant theological tradition: objections from the immediacy of our knowledge of God, the noetic effects of sin, and the logic of theistic arguments. Distinguishing between the project of natural theology and particular models of natural theology, Sudduth argues that none of the main Reformed objections is successful as an objection to the project of natural theology itself.”
Regretfully, Sudduth, since writing this dissertation, has converted to polytheistic Hinduism and writes immoral novels as a professor of religion in the pluralistic university environment, though this does not affect the scholarship or helpfulness of this work.
Feser is a Romanist, professor of philosophy in the tradition of Analytical Thomism. Graham Oppy critiqued the cosmological argument in this book; Feser responded to him in an article above.
This book is not about Aquinas’s five proofs for God; rather it elaborates on Feser’s own five proof’s for God, each of which is grounded in historic thinkers, though the presentation of them is distinctly his. They are:
1. The Aristotelian Proof: From change to a purely actualized actualizer, or an unmoved mover, without which change cannot be.
2. The Neo-Platonic Proof: From compositeness to something absolutely simple or non-composite as its ultimate cause.
3. The Augustinian Proof: From universals to a divine intellect, or the mind of God, as their only possible ground.
4. The Thomistic Proof: Contingent things, all having a real distinction of essence (what something is) versus existence (that it exists), can only be caused to exist by something in which there is no such distinction, whose very essence is existence, and can therefore impart existence without receiving it: an uncaused cause of the existence of things.
5.The Rationalist Proof (based on Leibniz): By the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) everything is intelligible or has an explanation for why it exists and has the attributes it has. Contingent things cannot have an explanation of their existence unless there is a necessary being, its existence being explained by its own nature.
This book develops and expands the two dozen or so arguments for God that Alvin Plantinga gave in an unpublished lecture (above), Here is a helpful review of the book.
Haines, David – Natural Theology: A Biblical & Historical Introduction & Defense (Davenant Press, 2021)
The Clarity of God’s Existence: The Ethics of Belief After the Enlightenment (Wipf & Stock, 2008)
“examines the need for theistic proofs within historic Christianity, and the challenges to these since the Enlightenment. Historically (and scripturally), Christianity has maintained that unbelief is inexcusable” – Blurb
The Journal of General Revelation: Showing What Is Clear About God’s Eternal Power From General Revelation, ed. Anderson (General Revelation Press, 2022)
Anderson upholds the historic creeds of the faith and quotes from Westminster.
The Twelve Arguments: Showing what is Clear about God’s Eternal Power from General Revelation (General Revelation Press, 2022)
Anderson has been a professor of philosophy and religious studies for over 20 years at Arizona State University.
The Divine Right of Church Government… (London, 1646), p. 66
“…a reasonable soul, which to me is a rare and curious book, on which essentially is written by the immediate finger of God that natural Theology that we had in our first creation.”
Theologia Practica, vol. 1, p. 85, quoted from Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
“The God that philosophy seeks, theology finds, and religion possesses.”
The History of the Doctrine of Natural Theology
Ancient to mid-1700’s
Gillett, Ezra Hall – God in Human Thought: or, Natural Theology Traced in Literature, Ancient & Modern, to the Time of Bishop Butler, with… an English Bibliography, from Spenser  to Butler , vol. 1, 2 (NY: 1874) ToC
“…is notable for its scope and, granting its time, for its objectivity. It still serves as a useful finding-list of materials, particularly with reference to the natural theology of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Gillett must be criticized, however, for not establishiing a clear criterion for the inclusion or exclusion of works on natural theology and, in his discussion of the seventeenth century, for simply following out the lines of Deist and rationalist philosophy rather than attempting to examine the broader subject [of] rational theism.” – Richard Muller, PRRD (2003), 3.24
“This paper was presented during the Models of God session at Evangelical Theological Society 2019, in San Diego… Our purpose, in this paper, is to show that some unregenerate philosophers have indeed arrived, by reasoning alone and without the aid of special revelation, at some knowledge of the one true God. In pursuing this line of reasoning, we will only consider the views of some major pre-Christian philosophers, thus avoiding the possibility of any Christian influence on the philosophical conception of God… We will conclude by responding to some possible critiques.” – Haines
On the Early Church
Haines, David – ‘Natural Theology in Augustine’
This was a conference presentation.
Pelikan, Jaroslav – Christianity & Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Yale Univ. Press, 1993)
“An analysis of the the approach to Natural Theology which is found in the Greek Cappadocian Fathers.” – David Haines
On the Middle Ages
Mann, William E. – ch. 17, ‘Proofs for God’s Existence’ in eds. Cross, Richard & J.T. Paasch, The Routledge Companion to Medieval Philosophy (Routledge, 2021), pt. 3, ‘Cosmology & Physics,’ pp. 202-12
Feser, Edward – ch. 3, ‘Natural Theology’ in Aquinas: a Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2009), pp. 59-113
Haines, David – “Thomas Aquinas on Natural Theology: an Introduction” in Credo Magazine, vol. 12, issue 2 (June, 2022)
Kretzmann, Norman – The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas’s Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles II Buy (1997; repr., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004) 485 pp. ToC
“Though notably influenced by analytical philosophy, this is one of the best commentaries on Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles currently available.” – David Haines
White, Thomas Joseph – Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology (Ave Maria, FL: Sapienta Press, 2009) 340 pp. ToC
White was a Dominican. Feser commended this work.
“Probably one of the best works I have ever read on Natural Theology. Not perfect, but extremely helpful.” – David Haines
Beauchamp, Maurice – Méthode Thomiste de la Théologie Naturelle (Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest, LLC, 1941) Available for free on PDF.
On the Renaissance
Woolford, Thomas – Natural Theology & Natural Philosophy in the Late Renaissance PhD diss. (Univ. of Cambridge, 2011)
After surveying the theology of Romanism and Protestantism, this dissertation analyzes works by Raymond Sebond, Philip de Mornay and Lambert Daneau.
On the Reformation & Puritan Era
Ch. 6, ‘Natural & Supernatural Theology’ in PRRD (2003), vol. 1, pt. 2, ‘The Reformed Orthodox Theological Prolegomena’
‘Was it Really Viral? Natural Theology in the Early Modern Reformed Tradition’ in ed. Pitassi & Camillocci, Crossing Traditions: Essays on the Reformation and Intellectual History: in Honour of Irena Backus Pre (Brill, 2018), pp. 507-531
Henry, John – 3. ‘Natural Theology’ in ch. 40, ‘Early Modern Theology & Science’ in eds. Lehner, Muller & Roeber, The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800 (Oxford, 2016), pp. 613-5
‘Natural Theology in Reformed Orthodoxy’ in ed. Joseph Minich, Philosophy & the Christian: the Quest for Wisdom in the Light of Christ (Davenant Press, 2018)
Haines has been a professor of philosophy at Veritas Evangelical Seminary.
Abstract: “Our purpose in this article is to provide a clear outline of how some of the most important early reformed theologians, and confessions, articulated their understanding of Natural Theology… we will limit our analysis primarily to John Calvin (1509-1564), Theodore Beza (1519-1605), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562), Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590), Franciscus Junius (1545-1602), John Davenant (1572-1641), and Francis Turretin. We will also take note, in passing, of some of the more authoritative Reformed documents and councils, such as the French Confession of faith (1559), the Canons of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), and the Westminster Confession (1646)…”
“Bullinger (1504-1575), a Swiss reformer, was the successor of Heidrich Zwingli. He was one of the most influential of the earlier reformers… He was educated in the via antiqua [old way], learning from such greats as Aquinas and Scotus. In what follows, I provide quotes from Bullinger on the following subjects: Faith, Nature, Natural Reason, Natural Theology, and Natural Law. The quotes are accompanied only by short comments to help situate them or better understand them.” – Haines
Abstract: “I will, therefore, consider Calvin’s claims about man’s natural knowledge of God under five headings: (1) What Calvin means by “knowledge of God”, (2) The possibility of knowledge of God, (3) The sources of man’s knowledge of God, (4) The content of this knowledge, and (5) the what man does with this knowledge (or, the effect of this knowledge on man).”
“Richard Hooker & Reformed Natural Theology” (Oct. 2022)
“I here consider Francis Turretin’s approach to Natural Theology through an analysis of his response to Five important questions. First of all, what, according to Turretin, Natural Theology is and isn’t (as well as the contents of Natural Theology). Secondly, whether humans (fallen or regenerated) are able to engage in Natural Theology, and how. Thirdly, the relationship between Natural theology and the articles of faith. Fourthly, the uses and limitations of natural theology. Fifthly, the effect of Natural Theology.”
Sudduth, Michael L. – ‘The Prospects for ‘Mediate’ Natural Theology in John Calvin’ Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 53-68
Goudriaan, Aza – 5. ‘Natural Theology & Proofs for God’s Existence’ in ch. 1, ‘Holy Scripture, Human Reason & Natural Theology’ in Reformed Orthodoxy and Philosophy, 1625-1750 : Gisbertus Voetius, Petrus Van Mastricht, and Anthonius Driessen Pre (Boston: Brill, 2006), pp. 74-84
Platt, John – Reformed Thought & Scholasticism. The Arguments for the Existence of God in Dutch Theology, 1575–1650 (Brill, 1982) 255 pp. ToC
Wallace Marshall – Puritans & Natural Theology Buy (2012; Wipf & Stock, 216) 205 pp. being his PhD dissertation for Boston College
This excellent work surveys the natural theology of the puritans, which was their undergirding for apologetics.
On the 1800’s
Abstract: “In this article I will be considering, primarily, what Charles Hodge has to say about Natural Theology in his 3 volume, Systematic Theology and and what A. H. Strong has to say about Natural Theology in his Systematic Theology… The title refers to one reformed view, because, though we are considering two different theologians, from two different protestant denominations, working at different schools and at different times, these two reformed theologians hold essentially the same view on Natural Theology. We will consider what they have to say about Theology, the relationship between Natural and Revealed Theology, and the relationship between Reason, man’s knowledge of God, and the doctrine of Total Depravity, among other issues.”
This is a summary of research into Bavinck’s approach to Natural Theology.
Muller, Richard – ‘Kuyper & Bavinck on Natural Theology’ Bavinck Review 10 (2019): 5–35
On the 1900’s
Haines, David – ‘Benjamin B. Warfield on Natural Theology’
This is a summary of research into B. B. Warfield’s approach to Natural Theology.
On the 2000’s
Haines, David – ‘Alister McGrath & Natural Theology’
“In the book The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology, Alister McGrath sets out to lay the foundations for an entirely new natural theology… ‘…if nature is to disclose the transcendent, it must be ‘seen’ or ‘read’ in certain specific ways – ways that are not themselves necessarily mandated by nature itself.’ He does not wish to embark on a neutral natural theology, but to advance a Christian natural theology – one which, rather than proving the doctrinal claims of Christianity, begins by accepting the doctrinal claims of Christianity, and then goes on to show how the Christian worldview gives the best interpretation of our perceptions of this universe.
The claim that he will seek to validate in his book is summarized briefly as follows: ‘…A Christian understanding of nature is the intellectual prerequisite for a natural theology which discloses the Christian God.’
In order to understand his revised natural theology we must first understand the need for this revision. What does McGrath perceive as the old natural theology, and what is so wrong with it that we need a new vision? Once we have understood these contentions we will be able to better understand McGrath’s revised version, which will allow us to give it a critical analysis.”
The Best: John Owen
The Reason of Faith… (Glasgow, 1801), ch. 6, pp. 114-116, 118-120
“1. And in the first place we, may consider that there are three ways whereby we assent unto anything that is proposed unto us as true, and receive it as such.
1. By inbred principles of natural light, and the first rational actings of our minds. This in reason answers instinct in irrational creatures. Hence God complains that his people did neglect and sin against their own natural light, and first dilates of reason, whereas brute creatures would not forsake the conduct of the instinct of their natures, Isa. 1:3. In general, the mind is necessarily determined to an assent unto the proper objects of these principles; it cannot do otherwise. It cannot but assent unto the prime dictates of the light of nature, yea those dictates are nothing but its assent. Its first apprehension of the things which the light of nature embraces, without either express reasonings or further consideration, are this assent. Thus does the mind embrace in itself the general notions of moral good and evil, with the difference between them, however it practically complies not with what they guide unto; Jude ver. 10. And so does it assent unto many principles of reason, as that the whole is greater than the part, without admitting any debate about them.
2. By rational considerations of things externally proposed unto us. Herein the mind exercises its discursive faculty, gathering one thing out of another, and concluding one thing from another. And hereon is it able to assent unto what is proposed unto it in various degrees of certainty, according unto the nature and degree of the evidence it proceeds upon. Hence it has a certain knowledge of some things, of others an opinion or persuasion prevalent against the objections to the contrary, which it knows, and whose force it understands, which may be true or false.
3. By faith. This respects that power of our minds whereby we are able to assent unto anything as true, which we have no first principles concerning, no inbred notions of, nor can from more known principles make unto ourselves any certain rational conclusions concerning them…
And this assent also has not only various degrees, but is also of diverse kinds, according as the testimony is which it arises from, and rests on; as being human if that be human, and divine if that be so also.
According to these distinct faculties and powers of our souls, God is pleased to reveal or make known Himself, his mind or will three ways unto us. For He has implanted no power on our minds, but the principle use and exercise of it are to be with respect unto Himself, and our living unto Him, which is the end of them all. And a neglect of the improvement of them unto this end, is the highest aggravation of sin.
It is an aggravation of sin when men abuse the creatures of God otherwise than He has appointed, or in not using them to his glory; when they take his corn, and wine, and oil, and spend them on their lusts, Hos. 2:8… But the height of impiety consists in the abuse of the faculties and powers of the soul, wherewith we are endowed purposely and immediately for the glorifying of God. Hence proceed unbelief, profaneness, blasphemy, atheism, and the like pollution of the spirit or mind. And these are sins of the highest provocation. For the powers and faculties of our minds being given us only to enable us to live unto God, the diverting of their principal exercise unto other ends, is an act of enmity against Him, and affront unto Him.
He does not reveal Himself by his word unto the principles of natural light, nor unto reason in its exercise. But yet these principles, and reason itself, with all the faculties of our minds, are consequentially affected with that revelation, and are drawn forth into their proper exercise by it…
And concerning these several ways of the communication or revelation of the knowledge of God, it must be always observed that there is a a perfect consonancy in the things revealed by them all. If any thing pretends from the one what is absolutely contradictory unto the other, or our senses as the means of them, it is not to be received.
The foundation of the whole, as of all the actings of our souls, is in the inbred principles of natural light, or first neceflary dictates of our intellectual rational nature. This, so far as it extends, is a rule unto our apprehension in all that follows. Wherefore if any pretend in the exercise of reason, to conclude unto anything concerning the nature, being, or will of God that is directly contradictory unto those principles and dictates, it is no divine revelation unto our reason, but a paralogism [fallacious reasoning] from the defect of reason in its exercise.
This is that which the apostle charges on, and vehemently urges against the heathen philosophers. Inbred notions they had in themselves of the being and eternal power of God; and these were so manifest in them thereby, that they could not but own them. Hereon they set their rational discursive faculty at work in the consideration of God and his being. But herein were they so vain and foolish as to draw conclusions directly contrary unto the first principles of natural light, and the unavoidable notions which they had of the eternal being of God, Rom. 1:21-24. And many upon their pretended rational consideration of the promiscuous event of things in the world, have foolishly concluded that all things had a fortuitous beginning, and have fortuitous events, or such as from a concatenation of antecedent causes are fatally necessary, and are not disposed by an infinitely wise, unerring, holy Providence. And this also is directly contradictory unto the first principles and notions of natural light, whereby it openly proclaims itself not to be an effect of reason in its due exercise, but a mere delusion.
So if any pretend unto revelations by faith which are
contradictory unto the first principles of natural light , or reason in its proper exercise about its proper objects, it is a delusion. On this ground the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation is justly rejected, for it proposes that as a revelation by faith, which is expressly contradictory unto our sense and reason in their proper exercise about their proper objects. And a supposition of the possibility of any such thing, would make the ways whereby God reveals and makes known himself, to cross and interfere one with another; which would leave us no certainty in anything divine or human.
But yet as these means of divine revelation do harmonize and perfectly agree one with the other, so they are not objectively equal, or equally extensive, nor are they co-ordinate, but subordinate unto one another. Wherefore there are many things discernible by reason in its exercise, which do not appear unto the first principles of natural light. So the sober philosophers of old attained unto many true and great conceptions of God, and the excellencies of his nature, above what they arrived unto who either did not or could not cultivate and improve the principles of natural light in the fame manner as they did.
It is therefore folly to pretend that things so made known of God
are not infallibly true and certain, because they are not obvious unto the first conceptions of natural light, without the due exercise of reason, provided they are not contradictory thereunto. And there are many things revealed unto faith that are above and beyond the comprehension of reason, in the best and utmost of its most proper exercise. Such are all the principal mysteries of Christian religion. And it is the height of folly to reject them, as some do, because they are not discernible and comprehensible by reason, seeing they are not contradictory thereunto.
Wherefore these ways of God’s revelation of himself are not equally extensive, or commensurate, but are so subordinate one unto another, that what is wanting unto the one is supplied by the other, unto the accomplishment of the whole and entire end of divine revelation; and the truth of God is the same in them all.”
Syntagma, bk. 2, ch. 4, Arguments for the Existence of God trans. Charles Johnson
“1. The consideration of the world, the mass, the skillful production, the form, the continuous sustaining, the very wise governance, the innumerable variety, the order of bodies, the diverse movement, and the admirable virtues of which teach that there is some intelligent nature from which all of these things come. Ps. 8, 19;
Rom. 1:19-20. “Seeing as τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, that which can be known of God, is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Act. 14:17, “Nevertheless, he did not leave himself without witness, in that He did good and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
From here, that axiom repeated by the gentile philosophers: “nothing is the cause of itself,” unless the prior and the consequent are the same as it. It would be no less foolish than false to affirm that the same thing is in the same sense simultaneously in potency and act. At any rate, a cause was needed which would produce the world and all its parts. Diagoras openly and explicitly denied that God exists, and not having wood to cook his turnips with, he cut up a statue of Hercules, as Athenagoras relates in Legatio pro Christianis.
And in the same place, he recalls that an infamous rumor of three scandalous acts was spread concerning Christians: impiety, that they did away with gods, cannibalistic feasts, and incestuous copulation. But Athenagoras proves that these scandalous deeds were slanderously attributed to Christians. Justin Martyr testifies that Christians were called atheists, Apologia II. ad Antoninum Pium Imperatorem. But Christians by no means deny that God exists. It is a delusion of the heathens; and therefore, we take up nature arguments to prove that God exists. Hermes Trismegistus said in Poemandres, “Indeed, God cannot be penetrated by human reason, but he can be touched by hands.”
2. The principles innate in us, which are the starting points of doctrines, which it is necessary to have been engraved in the minds of man by an intelligent nature. Rom. 1:19.
3. The special knowledge naturally inherent in us that God exists.
4. The proper testimony of our conscience, upon thunder and other unusual storms, earthquakes, which is frightened, and fears God the judge on account of wicked deeds, and thus, shudders with some trepidation, as may be seen in Caesar Caligula, as Suetonius testifies on Caligula, ch. 51.
5. Punishments for evil deeds, inflicted upon the wicked even in this life, concerning which Thucydides says, μεγάλων ἀδικημάτων μεγάλαι τιμωρίαι εἰσὶ παρὰ Θεοῦ. “To great evil deeds belong great acts of vengeance from God.”
6. The establishing and conserving of political order.
7. Particular virtues and motions in heroic persons. Hence, by Homer, heroes are called “god-like.”
8. Indications of future things. Cicero said concerning divination, “If there is divination, there are gods.”
9. The end of all natural things. For, since it is most certain in all things, and so very few things, rather, have a view to or perceive that end to which they constantly are inclined and continue, it is wholly necessary for there to be some mind that understands all things, and governs particular things and directs them to their ends.
10. The series of causes that does not progress into infinity, leading by hand, as it were, to some first mover, upon whom all motions, actions, and effects depend.
11. Worship itself, whether religious or superstitious, introduced by fear of the deity.
12. The common confession and consent of all peoples, even the most savage. “For no people is so barbaric that it does not judge that there is some god, indeed, so that men prefer to have a false god to none at all: certainly, a sense of the divinity sits so highly in our hearts.” Cicero, Tusc. Sen. 1.21. ep. 118. Divinus ille Jamblichus, de mysteriis. ch. 1.
13. A sense of the goodness of God; that is, of the immense spiritual and corporal benefits of God. For that we live, that we move, and that we exist is a benefit of his. Act. 14:15. And so many benefits of his surround us that He is nearly felt by us, Act. 17:27. Seneca, de benefic. 4.4.
14. The excellence of our mind. For, that we reason, that we dispute in our mind, and that we think up various arts and exercise them, is done by the benefit of God. The soul, in itself, is immobile, and at the same time, by its will it governs all the motions of the body, it reveals itself by admirable effects, and yet, it is not discerned with the eyes, nor can it be comprehended with sharpness of mind. This compels us to think that there is some mind that goes, moves, and guides all these things: that there is a Spirit in whom we live, move, and have our being. Man even sees and feels in himself that there is a God, whether he beholds the body or considers the soul.
15. The immortality of our soul. For the soul goes forth to God, when it departs this body, and flies away as from a prison: and the gentiles said that the soul is our little part of the divine breath.
16. Admirable, remarkable, and unexpected events that could not be done except by a most powerful nature, with which the theater of human life is full.
From these very many arguments, it can be clear to any, even one ignorant of the Holy Scriptures, that God exists. And thus, absolutely all men know that God exists from the touch of divinity, before all use of reason. And thus, Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics deny in vain that God is known in Himself.”
Calvin on the Necessity of Scripture for True Natural Theology after the Fall
Institutes, tr. Beveridge, bk. 1, ch. 6, ‘The Need of Scripture, as a Guide & Teacher, in coming to God as a Creator’
“Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.”
“I am not now treating of the covenant by which God adopted the children of Abraham, or of that branch of doctrine by which, as founded in Christ, believers have, properly speaking, been in all ages separated from the profane heathen. I am only showing that it is necessary to apply to Scripture, in order to learn the sure marks which distinguish God, as the Creator of the world, from the whole herd of fictitious gods…. God, the Maker of the world, is manifested to us in Scripture, and his true character expounded, so as to save us from wandering up and down, as in a labyrinth, in search of some doubtful deity.”
“I repeat that, in addition to the proper doctrine of faith and repentance in which Christ is set forth as a Mediator, the Scriptures employ certain marks and tokens to distinguish the only wise and true God, considered as the Creator and Governor of the world, and thereby guard against his being confounded with the herd of false deities.”
“If true religion is to beam upon us, our principle must be, that it is necessary to begin with heavenly teaching, and that it is impossible for any man to obtain even the minutest portion of right and sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture. Hence, the first step in true knowledge is taken, when we reverently embrace the testimony which God has been pleased therein to give of himself. For not only does faith, full and perfect faith, but all correct knowledge of God, originate in obedience.”
“Since the human mind, through its weakness, was altogether unable to come to God if not aided and upheld by his sacred word, it necessarily followed that all mankind, the Jews excepted, inasmuch as they sought God without the Word, were labouring under vanity and error.”
On the Immortality of the Soul
Flavel, John – ‘The Immortality of the Soul Proved from Scripture & Reason’ from Pneumatologia: A Treatise of the Soul of Man, wherein the Divine Original, Excellent & Immortal Nature of the are Opened… (London, 1698), pp. 81-120
Clarke, Samuel – A Letter to Mr. [Henry] Dodwell: wherein all the Arguments in his Epistolary Discourse Against the Immortality of the Soul are Particularly Answered, & the Judgment of the Fathers concerning that Matter Truly Represented… (London, 1718)
Clarke (1675–1729) was an English philosopher and Anglican clergyman. He is considered the major British figure in philosophy between John Locke and George Berkeley. Clarke was an Arian who wrote at length on and debated the Trinity, especially with Daniel Waterland, who defended orthodoxy. Clarke held to Newtonian physics.
Beauchamp, Maurice – Méthode Thomiste de la Théologie Naturelle (Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest, LLC, 1941) Available for free on PDF.
Grison, M. – Théologie Naturelle ou Théodicée 10th ed. (Paris: Beauchesne et ses Fils, 1959)
“A helpful French, textbook style, introduction to Natural Theology.” – David Haines
On Muslim Natural Theology
Shihadeh, Ayman – ch. 5, ‘Avicenna’s Proof of the Existence of God: Problem 7’ in Doubts on Avicenna: A Study & Edition of Sharaf al-Dīn al-Masʿūdī’s Commentary on the Ishārāt in Islamic Philosophy, Theology & Science: Texts & Studies, vol. 95 (Brill, 2016)
Al-Masudi posits doubt into Avicenna’s Cosmological argument from possibility for the existence of the First Cause.