General Revelation

“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.”

Rom. 1:20

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

Ps. 19:1



Order of Contents

Articles  6+
Books  6
Historical  2+
Call of God through General Revelation  6
Devotional  1





Halyburton, Thomas – Natural & Revealed Religion  in The Works of the Rev. Thomas Halyburton  ed. Robert Burns  (Glasgow, 1833), pp. 254-503  This work is mainly aimed against Deists and the insufficiency of general revelation.

Brown of Haddington, John

A Compendious View of Natural and Revealed Religion  (Glasgow, 1782), Bk. 1, ‘Of the Regulating Standard of Religion, Natural & Revealed’

Ch. 1, ‘Of the Law of Nature…’

Ch. 2, ‘Of the Insufficiency of the law, and especially the light of nature to conduct men to true and lasting felicity, because of its obscurity, inefficacy, deficiency and unanswerableness to the condition of sinful men’



Bavinck, Herman – On General Revelation  from Reformed Dogmatics, 1:321-322

Cunningham, William

Insufficiency of Natural Theology  (1878)  in Theological Lectures 

ch. 10, Natural Theology, the basis of the Evidences of Christianity  (1878)  in Theological Lectures



Pink, A.W. – Part 1, The Existence of God  in Doctrine of Revelation  (1949)





Junius, Francis – A Treatise on True Theology  (†1602)



Bavinck, Herman – The Philosophy of Revelation  Buy  (1908)  315 pp.

Masselink, William – General Revelation and Common Grace: A Defense of the Historic Reformed Faith over against the theology and philosophy of the so-called “Reconstructionist” Movement  Buy  (Eerdmans, 1953)

Berkouwer, G.C. – General Revelation  Buy  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955)

“G.C. Berkouwer interacts with Dutch Reformed theologians in his thought-provoking General Revelation…  Especially enlightening are Chapters 7 & 10, the latter titled, ‘The Controversy Regarding Article II of the Belgic Confession.’  As usual, however, Berkouwer asks more questions than he answers.” – Joel Beeke, Reader’s Guide

Demarest, Bruce A. – General Revelation: Historical Views & Contemporary Issues  Buy  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982)

“The most valuable study in the historical development of the doctrine of revelation…” – Joel Beeke, Reader’s Guide



Wallace Marshall – Puritans & Natural Theology  Buy  (2012)  205 pp.  being his PhD dissertation for Boston College

This excellent work surveys the natural theology of the puritans, including their views on general revelation.




On the Reformation

Mallinson, Jeffrey – ‘The Uses & Abuses of Natural Revelation’  in Faith, Reason & Revelation in Theodore Beza, 1519-1605  (Oxford, 2003), pp. 99-142


On the 1800’s – 1900’s

Anderson, Owen

Benjamin B. Warfield & Right Reason: The Clarity of General Revelation & Function of Apologetics  (University Press of America, 2005)

Anderson has been a professor of religion and philosophy at Arizona State University.

Reason & Worldviews: Warfield, Kuyper, Van Til & Plantinga on the Clarity of General Revelation & Function of Apologetics  (University Press of America, 2008)  152 pp.



On the Call of God through General Revelation


A Summary of the Reformed Orthodox

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, p. 329

“vocatio, ‘calling‘

specifically, the call of God to be his children, which occurs by the grace of the Holy Spirit, both generally in the government of the world and the manifestation of divine benevolentia [goodwill] (q.v.) toward all creatures, and specially in and through the proclamation of the Word.

Both Lutheran and Reformed scholastics make this distinction between the vocatio generalis [general calling], or universalis [universal], and the vocatio specialis [a special calling], or evangelica [evangelical/gospel].  General General or universal calling is sometimes termed vocatio realis, or real calling, because it occurs in and through the things ([in Latin:] res) of the world, whereas special, or evangelical, calling is sometimes termed a vocatio verbalis [verbal calling], since it comes only through the Word (Verbum).”


Synopsis of a Purer Theology  (1625; Brill, 2016), vol. 2, Andreas Polyander, Disputation 30, ‘On the Calling of People to Salvation’, p. 209.   See also Henk van den Belt, ‘The Vocatio [Call] in the Leiden Disputations (1597—1631): The Influence of the Arminian Controversy on the Concept of the Divine Call to Salvation’  Church History and Religious Culture, Vol. 92, No. 4 (2012), p. 551.

“2. We should make a distinction between this special calling of men to Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the world and the universal calling of them to God its Creator.

3. By the universal calling each and every human being is summoned, by means of patterns occurring generally in the natural world, that he should know and worship God the Creator (Acts 17:27; Rom. 1:20).  For this reason it may be named ‘the natural calling.’

4. As for the generally occurring patterns of nature, they are partly internal–recorded on the hearts of all people–and partly external, engraved by God in the created things…

6. The knowledge of God that comes by the first calling is theoretical rather than practical…

7. Hence those of this world who are wise, even though they have been summoned to search for God by fumbling about for Him (so to speak) with the aid of the first kind of calling, in their stubbornness of heart they in unrighteousness suppress the truth that their minds had received (Rom. 1:18)…

9. And so those people err who make not only the Gospel-call but also the natural calling into an entrance-way to salvation…  no-one comes to it [salvation] with the aid of the natural calling (Jn. 14:6 and 17:3).”


On the Synopsis

Van den Belt, ‘The Vocatio in the Leiden Disputations (1597—1631): The Influence of the Arminian Controversy on the Concept of the Divine Call to Salvation’  in Church History and Religious Culture, Vol. 92, No. 4 (2012), p. 552

“Polyander does not equate the internal call with the efficacious call for two reasons: 1) Because the universal call through nature also has an internal side, and 2) because the external and the internal call can concur in the hypocrite [Heb. 6:4-6].”


Cornelius Burgess

Spiritual Refining (1652), Section 12, Sermon 100, Holding forth the Nature of Vocation, or Divine Calling, p. 587

In the second place, the call of God consists in those things that are less principal, and such, as without the former [internal calling], would do no good; but when join­ed with it, is very subservient and instrumental.  And here we may speak of three tongues calling aloud to us, two without us, and one within us; which I call external, though within us, because of itself it does not internally change the heart of a man.

And the first less principal, is the whole creation: all the creatures are like so many tongues, as they declare the glory, power and wisdom of God.

As for that dangerous opinion that makes God’s calling of man to repentance

(Margin Note: The voice of the creatures of itself, not sufficient to call men to re­pentance.) 

by the creatures to be enough and sufficient, we reject, as that which cuts at the very root of free grace: A voice, indeed, we grant they have, but yet they make like Paul’s trumpet, an uncertain sound; men cannot by them know the nature of God and his worship, and wherein our justification does consist: Therefore whereas [in] Ps. 19 the Psalmist had spoken of the sound of the hea­vens, and how they all declare the glory of God, he comes in the latter part to commend the Law of God, for that which has spiritual effects indeed; viz. To convert the soul, and to forewarn from sin: Thou cannot then look up to heaven or down to the earth, but there is some imperfect voice calling on thee to glorify that great and wonderful Creator who made all these things: But then,

Secondly, There are the judgments and chastisements of God upon men for sin; these have a louder and more distinct voice: Thus the prophet: Hear ye the rod, Micah 6:9.  The rod speaks: There are no judgments, either pub­lic or personal, but by them God calls aloud to thee to leave thy sins: Eve­ry blow-thou hast, every stroke thou feelest, say, Now God speaks, Oh let me hearken and hear what God would have me do.  Those Psalms that have this inscription, ‘Maschil’, or ‘To give Instruction’, do for the most part contain the chastisements and afflictions of God for sin: And so thou mayest say of every affliction, ‘This is an affliction to give instruction’; of every loss, ‘This is a loss to give instruction’.  Take heed then of that deaf ear, that when God smites thee once, twice, yea, many times, yet thou hearest nothing at all; as deaf men do not hear the most terrible thunderings that are.

Lastly, there is a voice that calls aloud, and that is the conscience God has planted in thee; for that is God’s lamp put into thy breast: All the bitings and accusings, and smitings that gives thee for thy sins, it’s no less than God calling thee by that; Indeed this is a natural call, and so reducible to God’s external calling, yet it is more peremptory, more quick and lively then either the creatures or afflictions are: Hearken then to the calls, to the voice that speaks in thy bosom; How often does that say, ‘O vile and beastly sinner, when wilt thou leave these lusts?  When wilt thou depart from these evil ways?  Is it not high time that thou wert changed from these noisome courses?’  Take heed of putting out this light, do not stop the mouth of it, for it will one day cry louder: That will be the gnawing worm, which will never dye.”



Reformed Dogmatics, Soteriology, on the Call



William Twisse on How God Wills the Salvation of Men Indiscriminately




Myers, Andrew – He Made the Stars Also  a collection of photography and poetic quotes about the stars




Related Pages




Special Revelation