A Biblical and Historical Introduction and Defense
By David Haines
Publication Date: January 16, 2024
About this book
What does the world 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.
This second edition comes with substantial updates across 120 additional pages, including an all-new chapter on Thomas Aquinas, a brand new preface, revisions to existing chapters, and thorough indices.
Paperback | 315 pp. | 6 x 9 | PubliSHed JANUARY 16, 2024 | ISBN 978-1-949716-18-4
If you are interested in a bulk order please contact [email protected].
From the Book
“This book is not about Christian apologetics. This statement may come as a surprise to many, as one of the misconceptions that many people have about natural theology is that it is that part of Christian apologetics in which we defend Christian truth claims about God, such as, “God
is” and “God is the creator.” Though natural theology certainly has apologetic applications, its proper object is that which answers the philosophical questions, “What is the cause of contingent beings?” and, more specifically, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The traditional philosophical answer to this question has been: a First Uncaused Cause that is infinite, intelligent, powerful, worthy of worship, and so on. In other words, that which everyone calls “God.” This book is primarily, then, about what man can know about God through philosophy—through the human ability to think rationally about the universe.
This, of course, raises the question, “Is the God of the philosophers the God of Christians Scriptures?” Many, today, seem to think that this cannot be; the God discovered through philosophical reflection simply cannot be the God revealed in Christian Scriptures, and in Christ. One of the things that this book reveals is that though Christian theologians have always been very critical of pagan philosophers, they have also tended to accept and integrate into Christian theology any true proposition about our world discovered by the pagans, even when it was about the Creator of our world. Eleonore Stump makes this point in the conclusion of her Aquinas lecture:
‘And so, for that exemplary and influential proponent of classical theism Thomas Aquinas, the God of the philosophers and the God of the Bible are the same God—not because the biblical God is after all a frozen and unresponsive deity, but because the God of classical theism is truly the engaged, responsive, intimately present God of the biblical stories, in whose image human beings are made.’
That is, the basic assumption of premodern Christians was that if there is only one God, then any truth claim made by a pagan about God is about the God of the Bible. These truth claims impose themselves upon us in the created cosmos, and are heard by all humans.”
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
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
- Protestant Theologians from the 1500s to the 1700s
- Responding to Some Objections
About the Authors
David Haines (PhD, Université Laval), is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Bethlhem College & Seminary, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at VIU, a Visiting Fellow at Davenant Hall, and a lecturer in philosophy at Université de Sherbrooke. He has previously co-authored Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense and edited Without Excuse: Scripture, Reason, and Presuppositional Apologetics, both with The Davenant Press.
Praise for this work
“No doubt we are seeing in our day a renewed appreciation among Protestants for natural theology. This is a good thing, and Haines show us why. With an emphasis on the Greeks and the Romans and the first centuries of the church, Haines makes the convincing case that natural theology has been around a long time, is taught in the Bible, and has been the default position in the Western Church (Catholic and Protestant) until the last century”
Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“By amassing irrefutable testimony from the writings of early church fathers like Justin Martyr and Athanasius, medieval theologians like Augustine and Aquinas, and key Reformers like Calvin, Beza, Vermigli, Davenant, and Turretin, David Haines demonstrates that a belief in natural theology has been a central and standard belief for most of the history of the faith. This is an important book that builds needed bridges between denominations as well as between philosophy and theology.”
Professor in English and scholar in Residence at Houston Christian University; author of Apologetics for the 21st Century and Ancient Voices: An Insider’s Look at the Early Church
“A very important, well-informed, and articulate exploration of a major piece of theology that has been missing of late from our memory.”
–DR. MICHAEL HORTON
J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“Haines presents a well argued and historically grounded case for the value of what he calls ‘natural theology’. He writes clearly. And he accurately spells out ways in which philosophers and theologians can work together so as to appreciate how faith and reason might complement each other.”
– BRIAN DAVIES
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University, New York
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