> But George has often expressed what I take to be a denial of the legitimacy
> of natural theology, and it is that which I want to comment on. I do not
> regard natural theology as in anyway capable of giving salvific knowledge
> of God--that is related to the special revelation delivered in the manger
> and culminating at the cross and the resurrection--but it is not valueless.
> Natural revelation can serve a distinct function in evangelism (call it
> pre-evangelism or apologetics, as is common). My aim is not to see people
> converted to theism but to Christ, but for many, they must first be willing
> to acknowledge the theistic hypothesis before they will consider the claims
> of Christ. That the Holy Spirit can use natural theology, producing a
> general theistic belief, as a stage in prevenient grace, seems clear from
> e.g. Paul's Mars Hill dialogue.
What I have denied - or at least warned of the serious dangers
of - is _independent_ natural theology, an attempt to learn about God
independently of God's revelation to Israel which culminates in Christ.
I don't deny that arguments for theism can (through the
work of the Holy Spirit) bring people to a state in which they are
willing to consider specifically Christian claims. But they can - &
very often have - resulted in people thinking that "belief in God" is
what is essential, & that Christ, cross, church, &c are secondary:
"After all, we all believe in the same God, don't we?" This kind of
thing has left its mark on the whole of western theology: The
distinctively Christian understanding of God as Trinity is just a pious
trailer to the supposedly "reasonable" belief in the unity of God, & the
Incarnation is seen as a problem rather than an answer.
Thus even if an independent natural theology can be defended in
theory, it is very risky. Instead of doing apologetics that way, & try
to get People to believe in the "Supreme Being" before they believe in
Christ, why not ask them to consider the possibility that ultimate
reality is seen in the one willing to be crucified to save the world?
George L. Murphy