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Discussion in 'Natural Revelation and God's Creation' started by John Bunyan, Mar 21, 2012.
What is natural revelation, exactly, and how does it works?
These two passages from Paul's letter to the church in Rome tells us that men have an "inescapable" knowledge of God, and all knowledge of God comes by revelation of some kind (such knowledge is otherwise "too wonderful" to be gained otherwise; men cannot gain knowledge of God if God wills to keep it from them, and nothing happens apart from God's will).
Men gain understanding of God from nature/creation by their faculties of sense and reason. But this sort of knowledge has limits, due to factors of creaturliness and access, exacerbated by the effects of sin (physical and moral) on the perceptions and the intellect. But still, in general those things of God that are related to his "invisible attributes" of god-like power and divinity are plainly understandable to the ordinary human mind. But this is enough to send men scurrying to the corners, because even that is too much "light" for them. Jn.3:19 "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."
So, Paul writes that instead of making the most even of the light they have, they refuse to use it properly. They cannot help but reshape their thoughts of God into something less good, less holy, more accessible, more evil, more ugly, more lustful, more capricious--nearly anything is acceptable to men, other than the God who has promised to judge them, and banish them forever for their sins. This is natural theology, which is the product of a pure natural revelation, unaided by special revelation.
Natural theology cannot come up with a doctrine of salvation that depends on the power of God to save, that is ultimately anything like the Christian gospel. Natural theology only has the Covenant of Works to meld into various religious expressions. There is no true grace in false religion, and no grace in natural theology, because there is no grace in natural revelation.
Paul shows that men know something of the moral law of God, because though it has been thoroughly damaged in the fall, nevertheless the "work of the law"--the residue of God's constitutional labor--is still present in them. And this law will ultimately be the judge of every man on the Last Day. Because somewhere in their twisted, self-made moral conscience, they believe in a law that mirrors the eternal morality of God--and they have disobeyed it. And this one crime is sufficient to condemn them.
Best illustration I can make comparing God and creation with a chair designer and a chair...
Natural revelation is the chair you are sitting in: it has obvious traits of design, and you know somebody somewhere designed it, but beyond that you know very little about the designer other than that he knows how to build a good chair.
Divine revelation would be meeting the designer of that chair and getting to know him.