Natural Theology

A Biblical and Historical Introduction and Defense

By David Haines
About this book

What does the world itself tell of God?

Christians affirm that Scripture alone reveals truths about God which cannot be known by mere reason, such as the Trinity or the Gospel itself. But how do we account for Scripture’s apparent talk of a knowledge of God possible solely from creation? Or for our own sense of the divine in nature? Or for the startling insights of ancient philosophers about the nature of God? The answer: natural theology.

Often misrepresented as a fruitless human attempt to comprehend God, natural theology has in fact been a significant part of Christian theology throughout history. It has shaped the Christian doctrine of God and provided a starting point for evangelizing non-Christians. In an age when theologians and missionaries alike are in need of stronger doctrinal foundations, it is a doctrine as vital as ever.

In this guide, David Haines first outlines the biblical basis for natural theology, suggesting that, if Scripture is correct, certain truths about God should be well attested by non-Christians. A thorough historical survey demonstrates that this is indeed the case, and that the Church has long made use of that which is revealed to reason in order to serve Christ, who is revealed to faith.

Paperback | 195 pages | 6×9 | Published December 1, 2021 | ISBN 978-1949716092

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From the Introduction

Many Christian theologians throughout history have distinguished between what man can know of God by reason alone and what man can know of God through the inspired word of God. Thomas Aquinas notes that metaphysics is the most excellent and certain science that man can attain through the human intellect, without any super-added divine grace needed in addition to common grace in order to comprehend it. But there is a science that is superior to metaphysics: sacred theology, which is based on the word of God. Sacred theology is superior to metaphysics because it is knowledge that comes directly from God. As such, it is more certain than human knowledge.

From the time of Augustine on, “natural theology” has become the popular term for talking about the study of what man can know about God by reason, and without recourse to special revelation. One would think, then, that providing a definition of natural theology would be easy. It is not. In the late medieval period, philosophers who studied metaphysics began to say that the main subjects of metaphysics were God, the soul, substance, and postmortem life. According to Joseph Owens, Francis Bacon defined natural theology as that part of metaphysics in which we study what man can know of God by reason alone. Natural theology, broadly defined, is that part of philosophy which explores that which man can know about God (his existence, divine nature, etc.) from nature alone, via man’s divinely bestowed faculty of reason, unaided by special revelation from any religion, and without presupposing the truth of any religion

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Protestants—especially evangelicals—need to read this book not once, but twice. For all of church history Christians have taught the validity of natural theology on the basis of God’s revelation of himself in the book of nature. During the confessional age, the reformers and their heirs considered natural theology a basic and indispensable component of Christian orthodoxy. Enter the twentieth century and theologians—from Barth to Van Til—dispensed with natural theology and with notable vitriol. Yet David Haines demonstrates that these hasty objections to natural theology are based on serious exegetical and historical misconceptions. Summoning scripture’s own testimony, Haines shows that God has not left himself without witness, but he intends those made in his image to use reasonable observation to perceive his existence, divine attributes, and divine providence in the universe. Creation is a theater of God’s glory, and this book is your ticket to a front row seat.

Dr. Matthew Barrett, Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; host of the Credo Podcast


Preface to the Reader

Introduction: What Is Natural Theology?

Part I: The Biblical Foundations of Natural Theology

The Biblical Foundations of Natural Theology

Part II: A History of Natural Theology from the Pre-socratics to the Reformers

Pre-Socratics to the Early Church Fathers


Augustine on Natural Theology


Thomas Aquinas on Natural Theology


Reformers from the 1500s to 1700s


Responding to Some Objections



Praise for this work

“Imagine there’s no Bible. All we have to go on is the world around us. Can we know anything about God? Haines’ high-altitude, highly readable survey of natural theology across the centuries argues that yes, indeed we can, and Scripture itself says so. In fact, he argues persuasively that without natural revelation, special revelation would be a closed book. If you’re unsure of what natural theology is, or remain unconvinced of its value – especially as it relates to evangelism – you should read this.”

– Barry Cooper

Elder at Christ Community Daytona Beach; co-founder of Christianity Explored Ministries; author of Can I Really Trust The Bible?; co-host of Cooper & Cary Have Words

“This is bound to be a controversial book.  It would not have been so in Reformed circles until the critical labors of Kant, which Schleiermacher, Herrmann, Bultmann and Barth in their distinct ways seemed to have accepted.  What is strange, though, is that conservative Reformed luminaries since the twentieth century continue to denounce many of the theses that were assumed in Reformed orthodoxy.  Like me, you may not agree with everything that David Haines defends, but it is a very important, well-informed and articulate exploration of a major piece of theology that has been missing of late from our memory.”

– Manfred Svensson

Dr. Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

About the Authors

David Haines (PhD. in philosophy, Université Laval), is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary, Associate Professor of philosophy and religion at VIU, lecturer in medieval philosophy at the University of Sherbrooke, and teaching fellow in dogmatics and philosophy with Davenant Hall. David is the founding president of Association Axiome. He has published a number of articles in collaborative books and academic journals, and has published books on Natural Theology and Natural Law. His academic research focuses on Ancient and Medieval philosophy, C. S. Lewis, Thomism, and natural theology. In his spare time, he enjoys juggling and archery.


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