Natural and Revelation Theology
I have been looking at these two dynamics, and how they connect with each other. I hold a viewpoint that these are not in conflict with one another, rather they can integrate seamlessly together in a beautiful harmony.
Ok, I know that I have much explaining to do in order to help you understand this. To begin with, it helps to know in some detail what natural theology and revelation theology means.
Natural theology looks at nature, the world and what we see around us that in some way reveals that there are signposts to some transcendent power. This form of theology isn’t capable to bring a person all the way to Christianity. However, it makes a strong case that because everything is so finely tuned for us to exist, the most likely best explanation is that of a creator God. This form of theology is birthed in our own thinking apart from any divine impetus from God.
Revelation theology is sourced in God revealing himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It is the divine nature of God. He provides the initiative, humanity responds. It is also trinitarian in nature. It is up to the Holy Spirit to draw us to faith by his sovereignty.
It’s easy to see on the surface that these viewpoints could be in conflict with one another. Particularly with respect to the revelation side being skeptical towards natural theology. It is true that natural theology is not the gospel however, there are some great points of contact that can arouse curiosity in the hearts of people.
Why is it that there are so many layers of complexity woven throughout nature that can’t be adequately explained by random natural selection? When these mysteries are explored, there is the opportunity for everything to make rational sense when a supernatural God is brought into the equation. I believe this to be the purpose of natural theology. God made us inquisitive, why is that? He also made us with a God shaped vacuum within our hearts. These points of contact can provide a bridge between natural and revelation theology.
The bridge to this is found in the idea that revelation theology actually does point to the natural.
The scriptures plainly state that there is something about the natural world that indeed points to the divine nature of God in creation. The psalms say that "the heavens declare the glory of God!"
Therefore, we can see that these two forms of theology actually integrate with one another in a synergistic fashion. Rather than competing with one another, they fold together to bring a beautiful understanding of what our faith in God actually looks like.
This is particularly true when we are faced with doubts about our faith in God. Natural theology reinforces the truth of the gospel and brings assurance in times of distress. The complete picture of a worldview that embraces the beauty of creation and the power of the gospel together brings peace, not as the world gives, but as Jesus gives.
For further discussion on this topic, check out this video:
Alister McGrath - Arguing God from Natural Theology?
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