The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology

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JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dr. Michael Sudduth would like to announce his new book:

The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology
by Dr. Michael Sudduth

For those interested in the topics of general revelation and natural theology, especially from a Reformed perspective, I'm pleased to announce the completion of my book *The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology*. Selections may be read at the symposium for the book:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SudduthBookSymposium/?yguid=191011693

Michael

-----Brief Abstract----

"In *The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology,* Dr. Michael Sudduth examines an array of objections to natural theology that have emerged in the Reformed streams of the Protestant theological tradition. Sudduth shows that the flexibility of the project of developing rational arguments for the existence and nature of God has produced a diversity of different models of natural theology within the tradition. When viewed over against this background, Reformed objections to natural theology are best construed as objections to particular models of natural theology. While some of these models are vulnerable to various theological and philosophical criticisms, Sudduth argues for a philosophically plausible model of natural theology that is consistent with the internal logic of Reformed theology. According to this model of natural theology, rational theistic arguments represent the reflective reconstruction of the natural knowledge of God by the Christian in the context of dogmatic theology."
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks John. I'm on Dr. Sudduth's Reformed Epistemology Yahoo Group so I've been looking forward to his book. Being a Clarkian, and knowing the Sudduth has rejected Clark's views, I'm interesting in hearing his views.

The last phrase of the abstract is very intriguing to me: "According to this model of natural theology, rational theistic arguments represent the reflective reconstruction of the natural knowledge of God by the Christian in the context of dogmatic theology." Gordon Clark, having defeated mysticism, empiricism, rationalism, etc, settled on dogmatism as the only system that allowed one to know God or anything else. Maybe there will be some common ground between Clark and Sudduth.

I'm sure it will be an interesting book.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Anthony:

I'm not really up on these things. My own situation has called upon me to concentrate on different matters. I just know my way around a little. It seems to me that this idea of yours would depend on what you mean by "natural theology". Its meant a lot of different things over the centuries. We'll have to see the book to see if it squares with how we each understand the term.

We could also go to his website and read some of his published papers.

( Just putting in a sneaky little plug. )
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by JohnV
Anthony:

I'm not really up on these things. My own situation has called upon me to concentrate on different matters. I just know my way around a little. It seems to me that this idea of yours would depend on what you mean by "natural theology". Its meant a lot of different things over the centuries. We'll have to see the book to see if it squares with how we each understand the term.

We could also go to his website and read some of his published papers.

( Just putting in a sneaky little plug. )

Yes, I don't want to assume anything regard Sudduth's definitions of natural theology.

I requested a membership to the Yahoo book symposium site to get more information. I expect the book to have some good information. Not just a defense of his apologetics, but also a review of the history of "natural theology" arguments. I don't think his book is going to be a rejection of natural theology. I'm thinking he is going to try to rescue natural theology . But I'm just guessing at this point.
 

default3

Inactive User
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by JohnV
Anthony:

I'm not really up on these things. My own situation has called upon me to concentrate on different matters. I just know my way around a little. It seems to me that this idea of yours would depend on what you mean by "natural theology". Its meant a lot of different things over the centuries. We'll have to see the book to see if it squares with how we each understand the term.

We could also go to his website and read some of his published papers.

( Just putting in a sneaky little plug. )

Yes, I don't want to assume anything regard Sudduth's definitions of natural theology.

I requested a membership to the Yahoo book symposium site to get more information. I expect the book to have some good information. Not just a defense of his apologetics, but also a review of the history of "natural theology" arguments. I don't think his book is going to be a rejection of natural theology. I'm thinking he is going to try to rescue natural theology . But I'm just guessing at this point.

Anthony,

You are correct.

The central thesis of my book involves a *defense* of what I call the "Reformed endorsement" of natural theology. While it is sensible to regard the book as a defense of natural theology as such, it is better to regard it as a defense of the acceptance of natural theology within the Reformed theological tradition. I am defending a pre-existing position *within* the Reformed tradition, not a position that is external to the tradition and which I wish to impose upon the tradition.

"Natural theology" in this context refers to (i) natural knowledge of God (what I call natural theology alpha) and (ii) the project of developing rational theistic arguments (what I call natural theology beta). (The relation between these two senses of natural theology is an important motif in the book). In the historical part of the book I argue that there is in the Reformed tradition a historically continuous and widely instantiated endorsement of (i) and (ii). My defense of natural theology is a defense of this duplex Reformed endorsement of natural theology.

However, to put this defense in proper perspective, it is important to note that I distinguish between the *project* of developing rational theistic arguments and the *functional specification* of theistic arguments. One of my central points is that there are in fact different *models* of natural theology (exhibited within the tradition) based on different functions assigned to theistic arguments. Critical evaluations of natural theology must take this into consideration. While I believe some of these models are vulnerable to various philosophical and theological criticisms, I don't think all of them are.

So my defense of natural theology is not absolute. Indeed, the model of natural theology that I favor in the book is incompatible with the dominant way philosophers have thought of natural theology since the Enlightenment. So my defense of natural theology is logically consistent with the rejection of at least one way of thinking about natural theology, specifically as a system of rational theology independent of revealed theology and serving as the pre-dogmatic foundation to the former. So my defense of natural theology needs careful qualification.

That being said, the *apologetic use* of natural theology is not the focus of the book. Nor should it be the focus of the critical assessment of natural theology. I believe that much of the discussion on natural theology in the Reformed tradition during the last 100 years or so has simply been on the wrong track. The nearly exclusive focus on the apologetic use of theistic arguments has prevented Reformed thinkers from seeing or giving adequate attention to the functional diversity of natural theology. Consequently Reformed objections to natural theology where they have arisen among more recent Reformed thinkers have simply missed the mark. What started as a protest against an Enlightenment conception of natural theology among Dutch neo-Calvinists has given birth to the rejection of a project that is demanded by the internal logic of Reformed theology.

Michael
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Yes, greetings Dr. Sudduth. I'm glad you made it a-Board.

And I am also happy to see your careful explanation as well.
Consequently Reformed objections to natural theology where they have arisen among more recent Reformed thinkers have simply missed the mark. What started as a protest against an Enlightenment conception of natural theology among Dutch neo-Calvinists has given birth to the rejection of a project that is demanded by the internal logic of Reformed theology.
I don't believe I've ever seen it put quite so delicately and yet frimly.

Welcome to the Board.
 

default3

Inactive User
Originally posted by Civbert
Thanks John. I'm on Dr. Sudduth's Reformed Epistemology Yahoo Group so I've been looking forward to his book. Being a Clarkian, and knowing the Sudduth has rejected Clark's views, I'm interesting in hearing his views.

The last phrase of the abstract is very intriguing to me: "According to this model of natural theology, rational theistic arguments represent the reflective reconstruction of the natural knowledge of God by the Christian in the context of dogmatic theology." Gordon Clark, having defeated mysticism, empiricism, rationalism, etc, settled on dogmatism as the only system that allowed one to know God or anything else. Maybe there will be some common ground between Clark and Sudduth.

I'm sure it will be an interesting book.

Anthony,

I think Clarkians and Scripturalists will be able to benefit from the book, whether or not they agree with my central thesis or the argument presented in support of it. I hope to at least bring a needed clarity to the debate on natural theology in the Reformed tradition.

Of course, I'm inclined to think that the main argument of my book is logically consistent with the denial of extra biblical knowledge, as well as the denial of the idea that the existence of God can be logically demonstrated. So if Clarkians must take issue with my main argument, they'll have to do so on other grounds.

Michael
 

default3

Inactive User
Yes, greetings Dr. Sudduth. I'm glad you made it a-Board.
And I am also happy to see your careful explanation as well.

JohnV,

Thanks. Not sure how frequently I'll be able to post. As usual I'm up against a tough teaching schedule and other responsibilities.

Michael
 

default3

Inactive User
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Greetings Dr Sudduth!
I learned of your website via Paul Manata.

Jacob,

I haven't updated my philosophy of religion website since I left Windsor, CT a year and a half ago. My Courses website has more recent updates, though even here I have material that I haven't had time to put online. So many tasks; so little time.

Michael
 
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