Is natural theology necessary, given revelation?

Christian revelation implies a natural theology so far as God chose to reveal himself through terms that already had meanings. The words “Lord” and “God”, for example, were already there, and already signified something which the Revealer chose to apply to himself. Though God is beyond all thought and beyond all names, we must balance this against his own insistence that we speak of him in words that already had meanings before he revealed himself. Natural theology strives only to draw out and cultivate these already present meanings, concepts, and truths.

As a sheer logical possibility, God could have revealed himself in a wordless fashion, or using a specialized language (there are no shortage of sects that allow for, or even insist on, such kinds of revelation- e.g. the Gnostics). But the Revealer choose to refer to himself by terms that already meant something, and concepts which we had already formed. These terms and concepts can be understood to a greater and lesser extent regardless of whether revelation occurred, and after it occurs, the development of these concepts becomes a part of understanding the revelation.

It is in light of this that we need to understand the controversial and highly disputed claims of natural theology. The divine immutability or simplicity or immobility are too often treated as if they rose out of some pet Greek theory, as opposed to being attempts to cultivate a concept that God that we already had, and which would achieve a new dignity by being used by God himself. Before God took on our own flesh, he did something else which was also very  humbling- he took on our concepts, language, and truth.

1 Comment

  1. X-Cathedra said,

    August 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Brilliant.

    Pax Christi,


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