As promised, you’re getting some insights from my “plodding.” Actually, that’s twice this week!
Anyway, as I was plunging into Joel Beeke & Mark Jones’ A Puritan Theology, I ran across Stephen Charnock’s list of 10 attributes of God that “can be recognized by the light of nature” (17):
- The power of God in creating the world out of nothing
- The wisdom of God in the order, variety, and beauty of creation
- The goodness of God in the provision God makes for His creatures
- The immutability of God, “for if He were mutable, He would lack the perfection of the sun and the heavenly bodies”
- His eternity, “for He must exist before what was made in time
- The omniscience of God, “since as Creator He must necessarily know everything He has made
- The sovereignty of God, “in the obedience his creatures pay to him, in observing their several orders, and moving the spheres wherein he set them”
- The spirituality of God, “insofar as God is not visible”
- The sufficiency of God, “for He gave all creatures a beginning, and so their being was not necessary, which means God was in no need of them”
- His majesty, “seen in the glory of the heavens”
As you can see, Charnock has put quite a bit of thought into what we can know through natural theology. Actually, he has put quite a bit thought into the doctrine of God in general as you can see from The Existence and Attributes of God, Charnock’s massive tome on the subject.
Two things to keep in mind about this list:
- Whenever someone brings up the “tribal warrior in Africa who’s never about Jesus” you can remind them of this list available to all (see Romans 1:20ff)
- None of these attributes are sufficient for a saving knowledge of God
So in other words, everyone knows a great deal about God if they reflect on it. But, even with this impressive list, the gospel still needs to be preached for anyone to know God in saving way. This list though makes a great starting point, taking full advantage as it does of the resources of natural revelation.