ONE REFORMED VIEW OF NATURAL THEOLOGY
In light of the overly broad claims of certain reformed theologians (there are plenty of examples, but, for one example, see my blog article, written in 2011, concerning some claims made by John MacArthur at a conference in Montreal, QC), specifically from the presuppositionalist and Barthian camps of Reformed Theology, some people have come to the conclusion that in order to be truly Calvinist one must deny the possibility of Natural Theology. Such a position, however, as I propose to demonstrate in this article, is contrary to the theological work of a number of prominent reformed theologians. In this article I will be considering, primarily, what Charles Hodge has to say about Natural Theology in his 3 volume Systematic Theology, and what A. H. Strong has to say about Natural Theology in his Systematic Theology. Charles Hodge was a one of the well-known and well-respected Princetonian Presbyterian reformed theologians, and Strong was a well-known and respected reformed Baptist theologian. 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. The purpose of this article is not to refute any one of their particular views, but, to simply demonstrate that both of these renowned theologians thought that Natural Theology was both a possible enterprise and an important enterprise. Consider, first of all, their views on Theology.
What is Theology?
As we consider the definitions that these theologians give of theology, we must keep in mind that they are dealing explicitly with Christian theology, as such they do not necessarily feel the need to distinguish between what is a source of Christian theology and what might be, for example, the source for Islamic theology. Charles Hodge defines theology as “the exhibition of the facts of Scripture in their proper order and relation, with the principles or general truths involved in the facts themselves, and which pervade and harmonize the whole.” Two pages later, after a consideration of the sources of theology, Hodge gives a more complete definition of theology, “We have, therefore, to restrict theology to its true sphere, as the science of the facts of divine revelation so far as those facts concern the nature of God and our relation to him, as his creatures, as sinners, and as the subjects of redemption. All these facts, as just remarked, are in the Bible, But as some of them are revealed by the works of God, and by the nature of man, there is so far a distinction between natural theology, and theology considered distinctively as a Christian science.”
For Strong, “God himself, in the last analysis, must be the only source of knowledge with regard to his own being and relations. Theology is therefore a summary and explanation of the content of God’s self-revelations.”
For both theologians, therefore, theology is the analysis, summary and explanation of the contents of Gods revelation to man. It is important to keep in mind that a revelation, as a communication of sorts, is meant to be understood. In fact, Hodge states that, “in the first place, reason is necessarily presupposed in every revelation. Revelation is the communication of truth to the mind. But the communication of truth supposes the capacity to receive it.”
Sources of Theology
Both theologians are unanimous in both stating and defending the following position: God has revealed himself to man, both in nature and in inspired writings. Strong states that “the universe is a source of theology. The Scriptures assert that God has revealed himself in nature.” He also refers to two witnesses to God: (1) the inward witness – “to the heart of every man”, and (2) the outward witness – “in the constitution and government of the universe.” Hodge, as we noted earlier, states that some of what is revealed by God in the Bible “are revealed by the works of God, and by the nature of man, there is so far a distinction between natural theology, and theology considered distinctively as a Christian science.” Due to the fact that God reveals himself to man in two different ways, there are two distinct theologies: Natural theology and Scriptural – or specifically Christian – theology. Both Natural and Scriptural revelations provide man with truths about God.
Natural Theology: Description, Definition and Defense
Definition and Description
Natural Theology, according to Strong, is “the systematic exhibition of those facts, whether derived from observation, history or science.” Hodge would concur with this definition, perhaps adding that the facts in question “concern the nature of God and our relation to him, as his creatures”, and that these facts are gleaned from “the works of God, and by the nature of man.”
Charles Hodge develops, to a greater extent than Strong, the notion of Natural Theology. He notes that there are two extreme views, concerning Natural Theology, which are both wrong. The one extreme states that “the works of nature make no trustworthy revelation of the being and perfections of God.” The other extreme is that “such revelation is so clear and comprehensive as to preclude the necessity of any supernatural revelation.” In declaring that these two views are false positions Hodge agrees entirely with Thomas Aquinas who, in asking if, aside from Philosophy (and specifically first philosophy), any other science (doctrine) was necessary, stated that, “It was necessary for man’s salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God, besides philosophical science built up by human reason…because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation.”
What is meant by Nature in Natural?
In discussing the sources of theology Strong uses the word nature to mean “not only physical facts, or facts with regard to the substances, properties, forces, and laws of the material world, but also spiritual facts, or facts with regard to the intellectual and moral constitution of man, and the orderly arrangement of human society and history.” Hodge agrees with Strong, and says “that the sphere of natural theology is not merely the facts of the material universe is plain from the meaning of the word nature…It is not only used to designate the external world, but also for the forces active in the material universe, as when we speak of the operations and laws of nature, sometimes for all that falls into the chain of cause and effect as distinguished from the acts of free agents; and as natura is derived from nascar, nature means whatever is produced, and therefore includes everything out of God, so that God and nature include all that is.”
Defending Natural Theology
Hodge defends the viability and necessity of Natural Theology from the first error, and goes on to note that Natural Theology is clearly supported by scripture. “The scriptures clearly recognize the fact that the works of God reveal his being and attributes. This they do not only by frequent reference to the works of nature as manifestations of the perfections of God, but by direct assertions.” Hodge points to Psalm 19:1-4, Psalm 94:8-10, Acts 14:15-17, Acts 17:24-29 and Romans 1:19-21 as scriptural passages that clearly assert that all of mankind, pre-fall, fallen, and regenerate, can know something about God from nature.
Natural Theology and Scriptural Theology
Both Strong and Hodge take time to note the relationship between scripture-based Theology and Natural Theology. In responding to the second extreme, the notion that no special revelation is necessary, but that natural revelation is enough, Hodge notes, first of all, that all branches of Christendom (Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and all Protestant denominations) agree that natural revelation is not sufficient for the salvation of man. Strong agrees, “The scriptures plainly declare that the revelation of God in nature does not supply all the knowledge which a sinner needs.” To make this claim even more explicit we return to Hodge, “It is only by supernatural revelation that we know that any sinner can be saved…what are the conditions of salvation, or who are to be its subjects.” Indeed, Hodge states, “Here it is that natural theology utterly fails. It cannot answer the question, How can man be just with God? or, How can God be just and yet justify the ungodly?”
Though Hodge does not continue discussing the relationship between scripture-based theology and natural theology, Strong does. Strong notes, among other things, that natural revelation is supplemented (and, might we add, completed) by divinely revealed scriptures, but that they are mutually dependent, and cast light upon each other (Natural Theology helps scripture-based theology, and scripture-based theology helps Natural Theology). Strong elaborates on this “give-and-take” relationship by noting: (1) Natural theology precedes and prepares the way for scriptural theology, and (2) Natural Theology receives stimulus from scriptural theology.
Discussing the author and the “reader” of divine revelation, Strong notes that the author of both Scripture and Nature is God. Concerning the reader of divine revelation, Strong also notes, what is certainly of great importance, that the interpretation of Gods self-revelation in nature is done by science (it might be more precise to say that it is done by philosophy, and, specifically, first philosophy), and, a somewhat confusing statement, that the interpretation of God’s revelation in “the realm of the spirit” is scripture (giving Strong the benefit of the doubt, it might be best to understand him as saying that the interpretation of God’s revelation in scripture is theology.).
Three Important Elements for Understanding any Christian view on Natural Theology
Reason and Christian Revelation
In order to properly understand how these two theologians view Natural Theology, we must also understand how they understand the relationship between the natural human capacity for reasoning and the reception of divine revelation (both Natural and Scriptural).
Strong distinguishes two senses of the word reason: the broad sense and the narrow sense. The broad sense of reason is “the mind’s power of cognizing God and moral relations.” The narrow sense refers to “mere reasoning, or the exercise of the purely logical faculty.” Strong sounding very Kantian, states that reason, understood in its broadest sense, furnishes “us with those primary ideas of space, time, cause, substance, design, right, and God, which are the conditions of all subsequent knowledge.”
What is more, this broad sense of reason also:
(1) Judges of man’s need of revelation. This statement is somewhat confusing. Perhaps Strong means what Hodge says, “The first and indispensable office of reason, therefore, in matters of faith, is the cognition, or intelligent apprehension of the truths proposed for our reception.” Indeed, “it is enough for the true dignity of man as a rational creature, that he is not called upon by his Creator to believe without knowledge, to receive true propositions which convey no meaning to the mind.” For Hodge and Strong, an ontological precondition that is absolutely necessary for the reception of any revelation is that man be a rational creature capable of understanding whatever revelation (natural or scriptural) might be given to him. Indeed, Hodge states, “reason is necessarily presupposed in every revelation. Revelation is the communication of truth to the mind. But the communication of truth supposes the capacity to receive it.” Hodge is adamant that unless man is endowed with rational powers, and able to use them (at least to a degree), revelation is wasted energy. “Truths, to be received as objects of faith, must be intellectually apprehended.”
(2) Examines “the credentials of communications professing to be, or of documents professing to record, such a revelation”. Hodge also notes that, “in the second place, it is the prerogative of reason to judge of the credibility of a revelation.” Man does not (or, perhaps it would be better to say, should not) simply receive any purported revelation and believe it without testing it to see if it is truly from God. This role of reason has to do with written revelation, and it is in this role that we see (1) that reason is prior to revelation (even the first fallen human being who ever received inspired revelation from God, with the command to write it down, must have been able to receive the divine communication, and write it down – this, of course, implies that their rational capacities where functioning enough to be able (a) to discern whether or not the inspiration was from God, just from their own wishes, or from some demonic source; (b) rationally understand and write down the revelation.), (2) that some reasoning capacity is necessary prior to believing some purported revelation (the Bible) to be truly from God, and (3) that even if God must exist in order for man to exist (and so is ontologically prior to man), man cannot know that God exists unless man is first a rational creature which is able to understand God’s self-revelation in nature and scripture, and through this self-revelation come to a knowledge that God is, etc. Hodge adds that the third role of reason is to “judge of the evidence by which a revelation is supported.”
(3) Engages in systematic – biblical – theology.
(4) Deduces natural and logical conclusions from biblical theology.
A statement by Hodge is a fitting conclusion to this section: “Christians, therefore, concede to reason all the prerogatives it can rightfully claim. God requires nothing irrational of his rational creatures. He does not require faith without knowledge, or faith in the impossible, or faith without evidence.”
Philosophy and Christian Theology
Hodge makes six statements concerning the relationship between Philosophy and Christian Theology that are worth noting.
A/ “Philosophy and Theology occupy common ground.” This claim is somewhat debatable. Some of the claims of Philosophy and Theology concern the same things, however, to say that they occupy common ground is an over exaggeration. Indeed that which is considered to be the proper subject of philosophy is, quite simply, not the proper subject of Theology (The main important exception might by Natural Theology, which these theologians seem to categorize under the broad category of Theology. However, most thinkers would put Natural Theology under the broad category of Philosophy.). If we wish to be precise we would say that the proper object of Scriptural Theology is the interpretation and systematization of what God reveals in sacred scripture about himself, his interactions and relationship with man, and his plan for the salvation of man. The proper object of Philosophy, including Natural Theology, would be what man can discover, through observation, experimentation and reasoning, about every observable element of the universe that God has created, about humankind, about the first principles of all that is, and about God. As such, Theology and Philosophy only occupy common ground accidentally, and not essentially (that is, if Theology and Philosophy both discuss some subject, one of the two domains is mentioning that subject for the purpose of some other doctrine.). They do not share the same proper object, and much of what Philosophy discovers is not even mentioned in (or deducible from) sacred scriptures.
B/ “While their objects are so far identical, both striving to attain a knowledge of the same truths, their methods are essentially different. Philosophy seeks to attain knowledge by speculation and induction, or by the exercise of our own intellectual faculties. Theology relies upon authority, receiving as truth whatever God in his Word has revealed.” In this quote Hodge is not using the word “speculation” in a pejorative sense, but to signify that part of Philosophy which considers what has been observed and seeks to deduce other truths from it. Note that Hodge implicitly asserts that the intellectual faculties of humankind are functional and able to reason properly about the proper object of philosophy, as well as about the proper object of theology. Note, as well, that in Philosophy man attains knowledge from the action of his rational faculty, as he seeks to understand the created world, whereas in Theology man attains knowledge of the proper object of Theology from the action of his rational faculty, as he first believes the content of sacred scriptures and then seeks to understand them. Hodge notes that Theology is based upon believing rational and comprehensible truth claims that are offered as being authoritative and true because they are from God. In this claim we hear echoes of Augustine’s definition of faith: voluntary assent to the truth, based upon some trustworthy authority.
C/ “Both these methods are legitimate. Christians do not deny that our senses and reason are reliable informants; that they enable us to arrive at certainty as to what lies within their sphere.” This quote speaks for itself, however it is important to note that Hodge denies as false the notion that the human capacity for reasoning is unreliable. For Hodge, as for the great majority of Christian theologians, God has revealed himself to fallen man in two ways, creation and sacred scriptures. This revelation presupposes that man is able to understand it.
D/ “God is the author of our nature and the maker or heaven and earth, therefore nothing which the laws of our nature or the facts of the external world prove to be true, can contradict the teaching of God’s Word. Neither can the scriptures contradict the truths of philosophy or science.” In this statement Hodge aligns himself with what has been the considered claim of the great majority of Christian theologians, that is, if theology and philosophy seem to be in conflict, then there is an error in the reasoning used, either in philosophy or in theology. Aquinas notes that “it is impossible that the contents of philosophy should be contrary to the contents of faith, but they fall short of them…If anything, however, is found in the sayings of the philosophers contrary to faith, this is not philosophy but rather an abuse of philosophy arising from faulty reasoning.”
E/ Concerning the truth or error of the multitude of differing philosophical systems, Hodge says that, “these systems of philosophy are so many forms of human speculation; and consequently that so far as these speculations agree with the Bible they are true; and so far as they differ from it, they are false and worthless.” This claim is the outworking’s of the principle mentioned in point D.
F/ “The relation, therefore, between philosophy and revelation, as determined by the Scriptures themselves, is what every right-minded man must approve. Everything is conceded to philosophy and science, which they can rightfully demand. It is admitted that they have a large and important sphere of investigation. It is admitted that within that sphere they are entitled to the greatest deference…It is admitted that theologians are not infallible, in the interpretation of scripture.” This final quotation provides an appropriate conclusion to this short section.
Total Depravity and Man’s Knowledge of God
Man’s Knowledge of God
In this final section we will consider the views of these two theologians on what man can know about God, and the relation of the reformed doctrine of total depravity to man’s knowledge of God. Concerning man’s knowledge of God, we have already seen that both theologians state, unashamedly, that humans are capable of coming to some knowledge of God through the use of the reasoning faculty, which is a part of human nature as created by God, in considering the things that God has made – the created universe, including humankind. Indeed, states Hodge, “All men have some knowledge of God. That is, they have the conviction that there is a Being on whom they are dependent, and to whom they are responsible.” Hodge asserts, furthermore, that the fact that God can be at least partially known by man is proved by the fact that we can know something of God from his self-revelation in nature. This knowledge comes from man’s understanding of nature. However, it is important to note that both theologians, remaining faithful to the claims of Calvin concerning the sensus divinitatus, and essentially to Augustine’s Platonism, claim that man is also endowed with innate ideas which are the source of his capacity to understand the existing world.
Hodge, in considering man’s knowledge of God, considers three sources of the conviction that there is a God: innate knowledge, deductions of reason, and supernatural revelation preserved by tradition. Hodge argues, first, that man’s primary and most reliable source for the conviction that God exists is innate knowledge. It is primary and most reliable because all human beings that ever exist are endowed with this innate knowledge, and, therefore, all human beings can be said to “know”, whether or not this knowledge is actualized (for lack of a better word), that God exists. He then claims that even though some may be able to arrive at deductive knowledge of God from what they observe in nature, this will not be the majority of humanity, and, therefore, that this is not the primary source of humanities conviction of the existence of God. It is important to note that the does not deny the possibility of deducing the existence of God from creation, only that it is that by which we are able to say that all men know that God is. Finally, Hodge claims that though humans should have known about God through human tradition (referring to notions related to the theory of original monotheism), that this source is, at best corrupted, and, in most cases, non-existent. As such, for Hodge, innate knowledge, Calvin’s sensus divinitatus, is the most reliable and universal source of natural knowledge of God.
Hodge defines innate knowledge as “that which is due to our constitution, as sentient, rational, and moral beings. It is opposed to knowledge founded on experience; to that obtained ab extra instruction; and to that acquired by a process of research and reasoning.” He continues, “All that is meant is, that the mind is so constituted [by God] that it perceives certain things to be true without proof and without instruction.” It should be noted that “these immediate perceptions are called intuitions, primary truths, laws of belief, innate knowledge, or ideas.” These intuitions are self-evident truths. A truth is self-evident just in case it is universal and necessary.
What is the content of these immediate perceptions? Hodge points out three main objects of immediate perception (innate knowledge). First of all, “all our sense perceptions are intuitions. We apprehend their objects immediately, and have an irresistible conviction of their reality and truth.” Secondly, “there are intuitions of the intellect. That is, there are certain truths which the mind perceives to be true immediately, without proof or testimony.” And, finally, “there are moral truths which the mind intuitively recognizes as true.” As such, the innate knowledge of God is a self-evident truth for mankind, because it is universally true, and necessarily true.
Turning to the works of Strong, we find that, though his view has a distinctly Kantian feel to it, he is in agreement with Hodge. Strong notes that “the existence of God is a first truth; in other words, the knowledge of God’s existence is a rational intuition. Logically, it precedes and conditions all observation and reasoning. Chronologically, only reflection upon the phenomena of nature and of mind occasions its rise in consciousness.” The question that immediately comes to mind is, “What does Strong mean by ‘rational intuition’?” Strong notes that “The term intuition means simply direct knowledge.” Strong divides intuitions into two classes: (1) Presentative – which includes self-consciousness and sense-perception (including the perception of matter), and (2) Rational – which includes intuitions of space, time, substance, cause, final cause, right, and absolute being. Strong continues by stating, “We may accept this nomenclature, using the terms ‘first truths, and ‘rational intuitions’ as equivalent to each other, and classifying rational intuitions under the heads of (1) intuitions of relations… (2) intuitions of principles… and (3) intuition of absolute Being, Power, Reason, Perfection, Personality, as God.” Strong notes that man, “upon the occasion of our cognizing our finiteness, dependence and responsibility…directly cognizes the existence of an Infinite and Absolute Authority, Perfection, Personality, upon whom we are dependent and to whom we are responsible.” As such, for Strong, knowledge of God is innate in man, who, as he interacts and comes to know the parts of Creation, actually arrives at direct cognition of the existence of God.
Total Depravity and Knowledge of God
Both of these theologians have, as we have already seen, claimed that man is able to know something of God from God’s divine self-revelation in and through the created universe. This knowledge is not limited to regenerate man, but is innate in all humans, by the very fact that they are human. As man interacts with the created universe (including himself), the innate knowledge is activated (for lack of a better word) and man begins to suspect that there is a God (a perfect, infinite, personal being that is the creator of all that is). One final question remains in order to truly understand what these theologians think of Natural Theology: “Has the fall affected man’s ability to understand God’s divine revelation?”
The answer to this question, for both theologians, is “Yes and No”. Both theologians would adhere to the following statement: Total Depravity (the effect of the fall) affects (disordering and corrupting) every human faculty, but does not totally efface man’s capacity to use his faculties. Hodge puts it this way: “He [man] retains his reason, will, and conscience. He has the intellectual power of cognition, the power of self-determination, and the faculty of discerning between moral good and evil. His conscience, as the Apostle says, approves or disapproves of his moral acts.” Hodge qualifies this claim by noting that “the class [of knowledge] as to which his inability is asserted is designated as ‘the things of God,’ ‘the things of the Spirit,’ ‘things connected with salvation.’” Prior to the fall man, according to Hodge, was able to know, through his faculties of reasoning, sense-perception and conscience, all truth about “all the relations in which we, as rational creatures, stand to the external world, to our fellowmen, and to God.” The fall, however, so affected man that man is no longer able to know, through his faculties of reasoning, sense-perception and conscience, all ‘the things of God,’ ‘the things of the Spirit,’ and the ‘things connected with salvation’, these things, rather, must be given to him by divinely inspired written revelation. The other things that man was able to know prior to the fall (man’s relation to the external world and to his fellowmen), including what is now only a partial knowledge of God, man is still able to know.
As such, in conclusion, we may summarize the views of these two great reformed theologians as follows. They both claim that man retains, though partially corrupted, all of his faculties. These faculties can tell man about who and what he is (as human), about his relationship to other humans, about his relationship to creation, and that there is an infinitely powerful creator upon whom all things depend. Man is, however, unable to use these faculties to come to knowledge of those truths that are necessary for salvation. Therefore, God must reveal these truths to man in a divinely inspired written revelation. This knowledge, however, is not enough to save man from the judgment of God.
Both Hodge and Strong claim that God has revealed himself in two books: the book of sacred scripture, and the book of nature. Man, as a rational creature, is able to understand and interpret both of these books. Man’s interpretation of God’s self-revelation in nature, by which man arrives at partial knowledge of God, is called Natural Theology. Man’s interpretation of God’s self-revelation in sacred scripture, by which man arrives at knowledge of his need for salvation, God’s plan for salvation, and how to receive this special grace from God, is called Sacred (Scriptural or Christian) Theology. We might add that a truly complete Christian Systematic Theology will include interpretation of both Natural and Scriptural revelations, and that no Christian Systematic Theology that excludes either Natural or Scriptural theology is complete. Finally, Natural Theology, because it begins with creation and arrives at partial knowledge of God, is useful for (1) convincing skeptics, atheists and agnostics of the existence of God, (2) convincing adherents to other non-monotheistic religions of the truth of general monotheism, and (3) helping theologians arrive at a coherent understanding of God as he reveals himself in sacred scriptures.
For Barth’s view on Natural Theology, see: Karl Barth, NO!, in Natural Theology, ed. John Baillie (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2002). For a presuppositionalist view of Natural Theology, consider the claims of Cornelius Van Til in An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 of In Defense of the Faith (1974; Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Co., 1982).
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (1940; repr., Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003).
A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, 3 vols in 1 (1907; repr., Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1979).
Hodge, 1 :19.
Hodge, 1 :49.
Hodge, 1 :19, 21. Strong, 25.
Hodge, 1 :21.
Hodge, 1 :19, 21. Strong, 25.
Hodge, 1 :21.
Ibid., 1:21. Hodge develops and argues against this extreme in pages 1:22-25.
Ibid., 1 :22. Hodge develops and argues against this extreme on pages 25ff.
ST I, Q. 1, A. 1. In this article I refer to the following translation for all quotes from Thomas Aquinas: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. By the fathers of the English Dominican Province (1948; repr., Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1981).
Strong, 26. Strong seems to adhere to a Cartesian view of the physical world.
Hodge, 1 :22-23.
Ibid., 1 :24.
Ibid., 1:25. Cf. Aquinas, ST I, A. 1, Q. 1. Quoted above.
Hodge, 1 :26.
Ibid., 1 :28.
Ibid., 27, 28.
Which reminds us of the teaching of Basil of Caesarea that God created man to be a reader. A reader of divinely inspired written revelation, and a reader of nature (including human nature). Cf. Stephen M. Hildebrand, Basil of Caesarea (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2014), 37.
Hodge, 1 :49.
Hodge, 1 :50.
Ibid., 1 :53.
Hodge, 1 :55.
Hodge, 1 :56.
Cf. Augustine, “The Spirit and the Letter,” in Augustine: Later Works, ed. John Burnaby (1955, repr., Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 238. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, IIaIIae, Q.4, A.1, trans. Father of the English Dominican Province (1948; repr., Notre Dame, IN: Christian Classics, 1981), 3:1184-85. Thomas Aquinas, On Truth, Q. 14, A. 2, trans. James V. McGlynn (1954; repr., Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1994), 2:215-221. Thomas Aquinas, Providence, vol. 3 of Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. Vernon J. Bourke (1956; repr., Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), 1:130-132. In On Truth, Q. 14, A. 2, Aquinas says that “we can establish a definition scientifically, and say: ‘Faith is a habit of our mind, by which eternal life begins in us, and which makes our understanding assent to thing which are not evident.”
Hodge, 1 :56.
Cf. Étienne Gilson, The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Edward Bullough, ed. G. A. Elrington (New York: Dorset Press, 1948), 52. Thomas Aquinas, God, vol. 1 of Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. Anton C. Pegis (1975; repr., Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 74.
Thomas Aquinas, Faith, Reason and Theology, trans. Armand Maurer (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1987), 49.
Ibid., 1 :58.
Ibid., 1 :59.
Ibid., 1 :191.
Ibid., 1 :344.
Cf. Hodge, 1 :191-199. Strong, 52-53.
Hodge, 1 :191.
Ibid., 1 :191-199.
Ibid., 1 :199-201.
Cf. Winfried Corduan, In the Beginning God: A Fresh look at the Case for Original Monotheism (Nashville, TN : B&H Academic, 2013). This book gives a refreshing scholarly consideration of the case for Original Monotheism, a theory that has been shunned for too long.
Hodge, 1 :201.
Ibid., 1 :191.
Ibid., 1 :192.
Ibid., 1 :191.
Ibid., 1 :193.
Ibid., 1 :193-94.
Ibid., 1 :192.
Ibid., 1 :193.
Ibid., 1 :194-195.
Ibid., 1 :195-97.
Ibid., 1 :197-99.
Cf. Strong, 52.
Strong, 52. This claim, aside from some ambiguous use of terminology, is essentially the claim of traditional Christianity. That is, God must exist in order for man to exist and to reason, however, man does not necessarily know that God exists prior to being able to reason properly. Strong is certainly right in noting that “Chronologically, only reflection upon the phenomena of nature and of mind occasions its rise in consciousness.” Man does not begin being able to reason, understand, and know only after he consciously knows that God exists, on the contrary, it is only upon proper reflection that man comes to know that God exists. We could insert ontologically in the place of logically in order for this claim to be more appropriate.
Ibid. This is the same basic claim as Hodge.
Cf. Strong, 639. Hodge, 2 :260-263.
Hodge, 2 :260.
Ibid., 2 :263.
Ibid., 1 :363.