Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology

Why is natural theology insufficient for Christian theology? The answer is simple: one cannot get to the gospel simply through the means of natural theology. Charles Hodge makes this point clear in his stystematic theology.

The second extreme opinion respecting Natural Theology is, that it precludes the necessity of a
supernatural revelation. The question whether the knowledge of God derived from his works, be
sufficient to lead fallen men to salvation, is answered affirmatively by Rationalists, but negatively
by every historical branch of the Christian Church. On this point the Greek, the Latin, the Lutheran,
and the Reformed Churches are unanimous. The two former are more exclusive than the two latter.
The Greeks and Latins, in making the sacraments the only channels of saving grace, deny the
possibility of the salvation of the unbaptized, whether in heathen or Christian lands. This principle
is so essential to the Romish system as to be included in the very definition of the Church, as given
by the authoritative writers of the Papal Church. That definition is so framed as to exclude from
the hope of salvation not only all unbaptized infants and adults, but all, no matter however
enlightened in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and however holy in heart and life, who do not
acknowledge the supremacy of the bishop of Rome.


The question as to the sufficiency of natural theology, or of the truths of reason, is to be answered
on the authority of the Scriptures. No man can tell à priori what is necessary to salvation. Indeed,
it is only by supernatural revelation that we know that any sinner can be saved. It is from the same
source alone, we can know what are the conditions of salvation, or who are to be its subjects
. (Volume 1)

The points made by Erickson, Barth, and Hodge are important to remember. You cannot get the gospel without Scripture and the main point of Scripture is the gospel. General revelation, as Erickson argues, might be sufficient for condemnation, but not for justification. And if natural theology cannot get to the gospel, then it seriously limits Christianity theology and the Christian worldview.  Scripture, then, is necessary.


Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 


For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 


For more:
Blogizomai - Repost | "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - The Top 5 Essential Works of Theology of the Past 25 Years
Reviews - "Doctrine"
Reviews - "The Good News We Almost Forgot
Reviews - "Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris
Reviews - "Heresy"
Reviews - "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
Reviews - "The Theology of the Reformers"
Blogizomai - Repost | Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology
logizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
Blogizomai - The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
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