The development, in rationalist systems of the eighteenth century, of a truly foundational natural theology represents a basic alteration of perspective and a loss, not an outgrowth or further refinement, of the orthodox system. We must object strenuously, therefore, to the all-too-frequent and utterly erroneous claim that orthodox or scholastic Protestant theology generally viewed natural revelation and the natural theology drawn from it as a foundation on which supernatural revelation and a supernatural theology can build…Rather supernatural revelation, identified not so much as an unnatural or preternatural way of knowing but as a graciously given way of knowing, provides the context within which all other knowledge must ultimately be understood.
Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol. I, p. 310.
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:
“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.