J. H. Heidegger on The Usefulness of The Natural Knowledge of God to The Unregenerate

In the contemporary debates between proponents of presuppositional vs. classical apologetics, it is often asserted that the classical apologetic arguments, which are based on what can be known of God from nature and human reason, are of no use.  In contrast to this viewpoint, the classical Reformed theologians, while affirming that such arguments drawn from natural theology cannot save anyone; affirmed that they are nonetheless useful:

heidegger“Even though it is not salvific, comments Heidegger, the natural knowledge of God (notitia Dei naturalis) ought not to be dismissed as useless:  it leaves the contentious and obstreperous among the unregenerate without excuse before God (Rom. 1:20) and provides those not yet regenerate but searching in nature for God and salvation with the capability of sensing and discovering the presence of God (Acts 17:27).”  Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol I, p. 304.

Here, as quoted by Muller, the Swiss theologian Johann Heinrich Heidegger affirms two uses of natural theology to the natural unbelieving man.  First of all, it leaves him without excuse for sin, thereby magnifying the justice of God in condemning sinners.  Secondly, it gives him a sense that there is a God who exists.  While of course this sense of God’s existence derived from a natural knowledge of God will not save him, it may serve to help awaken him to his condition (i. e. being under God’s condemnation) and in this way prepare the ground for the saving good news of the Redeemer when he hears it.  So, while the transcendental argument of the presuppositionalists has its place in apologetics; the classical arguments drawn from natural theology have their use as well, even for the unregenerate.

Advertisements
Categories: Apologetics | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Post navigation

9 thoughts on “J. H. Heidegger on The Usefulness of The Natural Knowledge of God to The Unregenerate

  1. Ronald Tanaoit

    Thank you

    ________________________________

  2. No one seeks after God. Ro 3.10. This doctrine is as demonic as those of Martin Heidegger.

    • Distinguish. Natural man may seek God, though not aright due to sin. Acts 17:27

      • WCF 9.3: “Section 3.) Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;(1) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,(2) and dead in sin,(3) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.(4)
        (4) Jn 6:44,65; Eph 2:2,3,4,5; 1Co 2:14; Tit 3:3,4,5.”
        “Or prepare himself thereunto.”

      • I agree with this. So did Heidegger.

  3. “Or prepare himself thereunto.”

    JHH: “two uses of natural theology to the natural unbelieving man…it may serve to help awaken him to his condition (i. e. being under God’s condemnation) and in this way prepare the ground for the saving good news of the Redeemer when he hears it.”

    Looks to me like the unbelieving man who does natural theology may be preparing himself thereunto.

    • Note that it says not that sinful man prepares himself to this knowledge, but simply says that the knowledge of God that natural man has from creation prepares him for the gospel. That is, he knows there is a God he rewards the good and punishes the wicked. So the gospel makes some sense to him when he hears it. Otherwise in preaching the gospel to unbelievers, we would always have to start by proving that God exists. But that is not always necessary because he already knows it from nature.

      • Your JHH is not talking about “the knowledge of God that natural man has from creation,” he’s talking about natural theology.

  4. What is knowledge of God, if not theology?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: