theology, natural

theology, natural
   Natural theology is not necessarily theologising about nature, but rather reflection about God himself (and associated religious claims) undertaken from the data of general, rather than special, revelation. Typically, natural theology is concerned with assertions about the existence of God and the nature of God that are shared by major forms of monotheism. For much of Christian history natural theology has provided a common framework of concepts that could be shared between Christians and non-Christians, thereby allowing a point of contact in understanding prior to the gospel. Hence, Aquinas believed that reason could demonstrate the existence of God (natural theology), but that the doctrine of the Trinity was a deliverance of special revelation. With the Enlightenment natural theology gained increasing prominence as a means to meet the demands of sceptical reason. This movement finally terminated in deism, which completely limited its theological reflection to truths that are naturally available. The strong emphasis within Calvinism upon the cognitive effects of the fall has meant that many theologians within this tradition have been sceptical of the prospects of natural theology. Most notable is Karl Barth, who denied that there could be any theology apart from special revelation.
   Further reading: Crombie 2001; Paley 1819; Swinburne 2005

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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