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pinnacle of American Puritan theology, combined a scientist’s eye for the intricacies of the natural order with a metaphysician’s inquiry into the meaning of God’s order in nature, humanity, and the workings of history. Like Calvin, he combined a Pauline emphasis on both general revelation and human depravity, especially when contrasting revealed Christianity with world religions.105 As Edwards put it: “What instance can be mentioned, from any history, of any one nation under the sun, that emerged from atheism or idolatry, into the knowledge or adoration of the one true God, without the assistance of revelation?”106In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Dutch Reformed stream of Calvinism, led by theologians Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck, refined the Calvinist view of general revelation. On the one hand,
the Dutch Reformed theologians linked general revelation to common grace, demonstrating the handiwork of God in human art, science, and culture.107 On the other, the Kuyperian neo-Calvinists articulated a stark antithesis between the knowledge of regenerate and unregenerate humanity, thus highlighting the absolute necessity of special revelation for sinful humans to understand general revelation.108 The Dutch Reformed tradition maintained the pessimism of the Calvin/Westminster/Puritan traditions toward general revelation in relation to the world religions or personal soteriology. Bavinck, for instance, rejected an evolutionary model of the origin of world religions in favor of a recognition that universal religious consciousness is an aspect of general revelation.But he argued that the sacred writings of the pagan religions, by their very existence, demonstrate that “natural religion cannot be found anywhere, nor can it exist.”109General Revelation in Modern TheologyThe modern era in theology has been consumed with debates over general revelation, with theologians seesawing between ambitious proposals for natural theology and outright denials that general revelationexists at all. Both the left and right wings of Christian theology took up the task of interpreting general revelation, especially in relation to epistemology, anthropology, and soteriology.Natural TheologyIn 1802, Anglican theologian William Paley culminated a growing list of Protestant thinkers arguing for a robust natural theology, based on the argument from design. Just as one could infer the existence of a watchmaker from a finely crafted watch, so one could infer the existence of a Designer from the intricatebeauty and order of the creation.110 Natural theology faltered when critics argued, among other things, that the project failed to account for the cruelty, suffering, and chaos in nature.111The assumptions of natural theology were challenged by philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant and, later, by naturalists such as Charles Darwin.112 Moreover, as Terence Nichols observes, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century natural theology was often more compatible with Deism than with orthodox Christianity. When Darwin emerged in the mid-nineteenth century with a credible