About us
How we can help
Latest news
Press Releases
How to join
Contact us
Quick links
Church Society Trust

 The Principles of Theology - Article 1

by W.H.Griffith Thomas


<< Introduction

1. The Existence Of God

“There is … God.” This is the general theistic position on which all religion rests, and as the Article starts here, it seems necessary to discuss briefly the grounds of Theism. The word “God”, according to Skeat, comes from the Indo-Germanic, “Ghu”, “to worship”. It does not mean, as often formerly suggested, “good”. The Article treats belief in God in two parts, dealing first with that which is common to all theistic religions, and then stating that which is distinctive of Christianity. Theism is, of course, not peculiar to Christianity, and definitions of God differ. Although for convenience the order of the Article is followed it is not necessary to think that Theism rests on two separate and distinct foundations, natural and supernatural, for our highest authority for God is Revelation, not Nature (Rom. 1:20). Following Scripture, the Article does not argue or prove, but assumes the existence of God. “There is … God.” “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Our aim, therefore, is not so much to prove as to explain what the existence of God is and involves. Scripture recognises a natural knowledge of God (Rom. 1:19).

What is the origin of the idea of God? There are two general explanations. By some the idea of God as a Supreme Being is regarded, in technical language, as “an intuition of the moral reason”. St. Paul seems to have recognised in the mind an innate perception of God (Acts 17:28). This means that the belief in a Personal God is born in every man, not as a perfect and complete idea, but as involving a capacity for belief when the idea is presented. If this is so, it is one of the primary intuitions of human nature. It is certainly a mistake to suppose that we derive the idea of God from the Bible, for races that have never heard of the Bible possess a definite belief in a Supreme Being. The Bible reveals God’s character and His purpose for man, and thus gives us a true idea of the Divine Being, but the emphasis is on the truth rather than on the mere fact. In the same way it is equally incorrect to say that we obtain the idea of God from reason, for reason is not in this respect originative.[2] By reflection we can obtain a fuller conception of God, but the reason itself is not the source of the conception. By those who hold that our idea of God is intuitive the conception of God is analysed into three elements: first, a consciousness of power in God which leads to a feeling of our dependence on Him; second, a consciousness of His perfection which leads to a realisation of our obligation to Him; third, a consciousness of His Personality which leads to a sense of worship of Him.

Others object to the idea of God as intuitive, and say that it is the result of the reason instinctively recognising Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, and that these coalesce in the thought of one Reality. On this view these three elements afford an argument for Theism.[3]

But however it comes, natural religion means the idea of God formed by men independently of Revelation, and one thing is quite clear, the belief is universal. This is usually termed the Consensus Gentium, and is a fact which has to be explained, since “a primitive Revelation presupposes a Revealer: an innate idea presupposes an Author”.[4] It shows that religion is not illusive, but real, and that the universe is spiritual.[5]

This universal belief in the existence of God is confirmed by arguments suggested by the world without and man’s nature within, and it is necessary to enquire as to these proofs of the existence of God. While we may rightly deny the possibility of finding God by reason only, the proofs usually adduced are valuable and, indeed, essential for the knowledge of the Divine Nature and for the vindication of the convictions otherwise obtained.[6] There are two ways of procedure. Some maintain that it is possible to prove the existence of God on a priori grounds. By reasoning from the nature of things it is urged that we may deduce the proof of God’s existence. This was attempted in the eighteenth century by Dr. Samuel Clarke, and called by him “A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God”. In the nineteenth century the same method was seen in “The Argument a priori for the Being and Attributes of the Living God”, by W. H. Gillespie,[7] who was dissatisfied with Dr. Clarke’s work. By means of a series of propositions it is argued that “there is a Being of Infinity, of Expansion, and Duration”; and that this Being is a Spirit, All-Knowing, the Creator and Governor of all things. But it may be questioned whether this metaphysical method will satisfy many minds. It is an attempt to demonstrate a First Cause by showing that however far back we go every effect must have a first adequate cause, and that the mind must at last come to an existence without a cause, an uncaused cause. But it is at once better and certainly easier to proceed along the other, the a posteriori road. The questions of natural religion are facts and must be dealt with inductively and by the same processes we apply to all other realms of knowledge. This does not mean that the results of the a priori method are barren, for once the existence of God has been established on a posteriori grounds we are inevitably led to attribute to Him the conception of Infinity, Eternity, and Spirituality which the a priori method emphasises.

We have already seen that Scripture never attempts to prove God’s existence, but always assumes and affirms it (Psa. 19: 1). It may be questioned whether the existence of God is really capable of direct proof, for there seems no line of evidence absolutely conclusive to the mind of man. This fact has been said to show that belief in God is not like a mathematical axiom, self-evident. But since demonstration is impossible, for then there would be no room for faith, so the non-existence of God is equally impossible of demonstration. Many of life’s essential elements are of this character, and the true position is that of Butler: “Probability is the very guide of life”. This probability admits of degrees from the lowest possibility to the highest moral certainty, the latter reaching to the strongest kind of proof.

It is important to note the reason why it is said that we can have no demonstrable proofs for the existence of God. This is not due to the fact that belief in God is unreasonable, but because the fact to be proved is in the very nature of the case so great as not to admit of strict demonstration. To demonstrate God would require some greater truth or truths by which to prove our point. Indeed, it may be said without any question that the existence of a God of reason and love is so certain and fundamental a fact that it actually has to be assumed in all our thought and life. So that it is a fact which cannot be proved because it is the foundation of all proof, the postulate without which we should have to give up the possibility of rational thought. Hence, this position really gives in a way the deepest proof that we could possibly have, and that, in spite of the fact that strict mathematical demonstration is impossible.

The truth is, as we shall see in the course of our consideration, that it is impossible to distinguish between the existence and the character of God. The two ideas are inextricably bound up together, so that as we ponder what are often called the proofs of God’s existence we are all the while giving attention to the necessary elements of the Divine character. While, therefore, there are no direct proofs of the Divine existence, there are several indirect proofs involving evidence which points to it as the essential basis of all other existence. These proofs are not all of the same value, but they call for separate attention, and also combine to produce cumulative force.

1. The Ontological Proof. By this is meant that a subjective conception in man implies an objective existence apart from man. It is sometimes expressed by saying that the thought of God is latent in the mind, but is not produced by the mind. Man “claims to interpret the nature outside him on the analogy of his own”.[8] The unity he imposes on nature is modelled on his knowledge of himself. We have an idea of an independent perfect Being, and when the thought of this comes to us we inevitably think of Him as existing, and as necessarily existing. It must be admitted, however, that many scholars regard this proof as of only small value. Thus, Dean Strong says it is an assumed claim which cannot be proved, and an ideal which cannot be realised.[9] On this view the argument seems rather to assume God’s existence while proving His perfection. But it is still possible to use it as a way of stating the fact that belief in God’s existence is a necessity of the practical reason.[10] And as Orr says:
“It would be strange if an argument which has wielded such power over some of the strongest intellects were utterly baseless. … Kant himself has given the impulse to a new development of it, which shows more clearly than ever that it is not baseless, but is really the deepest and most comprehensive of all arguments.”[11]

2. The Cosmological Proof. This means that every effect must have its adequate cause. Antecedents and consequents are insufficient because they only imply succession. Sequences of events are not merely chronological. It is true that night follows day, but not as effect following cause. Yet there is a cause both to day and night. The universe is an effect because it had a beginning (Gen. 1:1), and its only adequate cause is the First Cause, God. Everything, therefore, in existence must have had a cause to produce it. The world exists and must have had a cause, and as God is the only adequate Cause, God exists. This means that the mind intuitively perceives a cause from what is visible (Rom. 1:20). Matter must have been created. Motion must have had an impetus. Life must have had a Life-giver. The argument has been stated thus: (1) The process of development in the universe, or in any part of it, had a beginning; (2) this requires a cause; (3) this cause was not physical; (4) the only non-physical cause is will or mind; (5) these imply a personal being.[12] According to Huxley, Causality is the first great act of faith on the part of a man of science.[13]

Another recent statement of the same position is worthy of mention: (1) every phenomenon must have a cause adequate to produce it; (2) the universe must have a cause; (3) whatever is intelligible bears witness to a cause that is intelligent; (4) the universe, being intelligible, proclaims its cause to be intelligent; (5) in all phenomena controlled by human agency, regularity and uniformity are the evidences of design and intention; (6) the universe, being full of regularities and uniformities, demands for its explanation a purposive causative agency; (7) human personality is constituted by the attributes of consciousness, intelligence, and purposive will; (8) the same attributes would constitute personality in the cause of the universe, which is, in effect, the contention of Theism.[14]

By some it is urged that apart from Scripture it cannot be proved that the universe had a beginning, but the argument now stated is valid and strong for the probability and reasonableness of the Divine existence as the only adequate cause.[15]

3. The Teleological Proof. This is better known as “the argument from design”. There are evidences of design in nature, e.g. the adaptation of means to end imply a designer, a personal, purposive cause. The gills of a fish in relation to water, the wings of a bird to air, the teeth of animals to tearing, the hand of man to work, the solar system with its fixed orbits, unchanging speeds and distances calculated according to mathematical law – all these things, and many more besides, suggest the presence of mind and purpose in the universe. In his Natural Theology, Paley used the illustration of a watch, which could not make itself, the mechanism presupposing a watchmaker, and although the form of the argument may have changed since his day the fact remains the same, that the world as a whole shows evidence of design, that it could not make itself, but must have had a Maker, that Maker being God.

Objection is sometimes raised to this argument, because as it rests on finite data it is urged that it cannot prove God’s infinity or eternity. But it is at least an argument for the rationality of the universe. While it may not be possible, following Paley, to argue design from particular details, yet viewing the universe as a whole the argument is as valid as ever.[16] “Man expects to find the world a coherent whole.”[17] This is the necessary basis of all thought and experience, for in the use of the various avenues of life man naturally and rightly expects to find all the facts harmonise.[18] The very word universe implies mind.

4. The Anthropological Proof. This means an argument from man to God, from the human nature to the Divine. Man’s mental, moral, and spiritual natures demand God as their Creator. The existence of human free will implies a greater Will. The fact of conscience with its emphasis on law involves a Law-giver. When man says, “I ought”, he means, “I owe it”, and herein lies one of the essential distinctions between man and the lower animals. Man’s conscience can be trained to the highest degree, but it is impossible to train that which does not exist, and the lower animals can only be compelled to certain actions by a sense of fear, never by a consciousness of right and wrong. The fact of personality in man is also an argument for the existence of God, since it is impossible to conceive that man’s personality is the only or highest in existence. Personality is the supreme element in the universe, as Huxley himself admitted in one of the latest of his writings.[19] All this tends to show that mind cannot come from matter, or spirit from flesh, or conscience from anything purely physical, and for this reason a Being possessing both mind and spirit must have made man. This Being was God, Who therefore exists.

Further, man is impressed by the three ideas of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and these point to the character of God in Whom they are fully realised. Some thinkers have rested their view of God on one or other of these alone. Plato laid stress on the beautiful, Spinoza on unity, Kant on morality. But the whole man demands attention. The idea of truth argues for unity, and this in turn involves the eternity, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God. The idea of goodness argues for the character of God as love. The idea of beauty implies the glory of God, as seen in the manifestations of the Divine nature and work. According to the law stamped on all life, like begets like, flower begetting flower, animal begetting animal, man begetting man. And so we believe God “created man in His own image” (Gen. 1:26,27).[20]

Here, again, because man is finite it may not be possible to argue God’s Infinity, but it certainly postulates Personality. There are four great facts in nature: Thought, Forethought, Law, and Life, and these demand respectively a Thinker, a Provider, a Law-giver, and a Life-giver. We must beware of the fallacy of personifying Nature and Law, which are expressive only of method, not of source.

It is sometimes said that the doctrine of Evolution has destroyed the cosmological, and especially the teleological, proofs of the Divine existence, that the Darwinian doctrine of Natural Selection is not concerned with ends, but results, and for this intelligence is not required. But this position involves much that is open to question and calls for serious consideration. It is sometimes thought that the Christian Church has been needlessly suspicious of Evolution and far too slow in applying it to religion. But it should never be forgotten that Evolution entered the world originally, not simply as a theory of science, but as an ally of a philosophy of materialism which, if true, would have banished Christianity, and, indeed, all spiritual religion from the earth. It was hardly to be expected, therefore, that the Church could give a welcome to a theory which entered in connection with such associations. Then again, time has shown that the Darwinian theory is not necessarily to be identified with the general doctrine of Evolution. It has been pointed out by several writers that there are factors of which Darwin took little or no account, and these factors have led to a decided modification of the original theory of Natural Selection.[21]

There is scarcely anything more important than a clear understanding of what Evolution means. The term is commonly used in a very indefinite way. It may mean little or it may mean much. There are three main divisions commonly included in the word “Evolution”; the sub-organic, the organic, and the super-organic. The first refers to the development of matter without life, and is generally applied to the formation of the solar or stellar systems from some more crude conditions of matter. Organic Evolution is the name for a process of derivation or development of the forms of life, vegetable and animal, that have existed, or now exist in the world. Super-organic Evolution refers to the same process in non-material spheres. But even in connection with organic Evolution there is a very wide divergence of opinion as to the use of the term. It is applied also to ordinary growth, and also to gradual, progressive development made without interference from without, but by the inherent potentiality of some primordial germ up to all the varied forms of life on the globe. Yet again, Evolution may be regarded as either causal or modal, as the cause of all life or as only the mode by which a Personal Creator has brought about the diversity which now exists. In other words, Evolution may be regarded as atheistic or as theistic. Now there can be no doubt that if Evolution is considered to be causal it is entirely opposed to all theistic conceptions. But the causality of Evolution is very far from being proved; indeed, it is entirely opposed to all that is known of science. Evolution within certain limits is a fact, but it has not yet been proved to be of universal application. There are physical gaps, to say nothing of mental and moral chasms. By means of a good deal of vagueness and inaccuracy of thought, men frequently speak of the uniformity of nature, but they forget that man is included in nature, and man’s life is very far from uniform by reason of his possession of will. So that while we may rightly accept Evolution as a working hypothesis, and within certain limits an undoubted truth, yet this is wholly different from regarding it as the full explanation of all things in the universe.[22] If, however, we regard Evolution as modal it is not only not anti-theistic, but in many respects gives a far deeper, richer and fuller conception of the Divine working than the older theories. It is only opposed to Theism if regarded as causal and materialistic. Testimonies to this can be found in the writings of scientific men like Huxley, Ray Lankester, and others.[23] The best thought of today tends more and more to agree with the opinion expressed by Sir Oliver Lodge, that “the existence of a great World-soul is the best explanation of things as they are”.[24]

The place and value of these proofs vary with different writers, though there is a general agreement that they do not amount to a demonstration of the existence of God. But in their place and for their purpose they are as valuable as ever.[25] The main point of importance to remember is that these proofs are hardly capable apart from Revelation of assuring us of a Personal God, with the attributes associated with Him.[26] One thing is absolutely certain, that it is only by Revelation we attain to fellowship with God as a Personal Redeemer.[27] And it is for this reason that modern thought tends increasingly in the direction of Revelation for the main support of the theistic position. While ready to give reason its due and to allow it its proper place, there still remains the consideration that for the character of God we need the knowledge that Revelation alone can provide. The main objection taken to the usual proofs, as now set out, is not their error so much as their inadequacy:
“The God whom they prove may be God, but He is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[28]

This tendency of recent thought to regard natural religion as secondary and to make the Christian Revelation our primary ground for Theism is undoubtedly important and needs careful consideration. It is urged that while belief in Christ presupposes natural theology, yet the latter is difficult because it tends to become metaphysical and philosophical,[29] so that our true method is not so much to reach through God to Christ as through Christ to God. But, nevertheless, we must not deny natural theology by undue emphasis on belief in God through Christ. To natural theology we may rightly look for indications of the existence of God, though as inevitably we turn to Christianity for the marks of the Divine character. The Nature of God in the abstract may be inferred from natural theology, but His personal character as Love comes from Christ. For this reason we must therefore give attention to the next line of proof.

5. The Christological Proof. The Incarnation of Christ, which for the present we assume to be true, corresponds with the foregoing considerations and demands a belief in God. God can only be adequately known in Christ, and any speculations about God which stop short of Christ’s revelation are necessarily inadequate. The bearing of this on the theistic controversy is important, for all objections proceed on the fallacy of excluding from consideration our Lord’s life and teachings and endeavour to place our knowledge of God on a natural basis. Now though we do not now prove Christ’s words to be a revelation of God, we have a right to say that no philosophy is scientific which fails to notice the testimony of Christ as, in any case, the greatest human experience on the subject. No testimony ought to be excluded from notice, and we hold that God was revealed in Christ because nature alone was insufficient to reveal Him in the character and attitude essential for human life, as good and gracious.

The New Testament claims that Christ revealed God, and this proof consists of several elements: (1) The character of Christ; (2) the fulfilment of prophecy; (3) the elements of the supernatural and miraculous; (4) the character, claim, and power of the Bible; (5) the existence and growth of the Christian Church; (6) the progress and power of Christianity in the world; (7) the moral miracle of personal and corporate regeneration and renovation. These matters are necessarily left for detailed consideration and proof, and are mentioned here simply as parts of the Christological proof of the existence and character of God. They require nothing short of a Divine presence and power to account for them. Thus this Christological conception confirms our belief in a First Cause, a Personality, and a Moral Governor of the universe, as set forth in the previous considerations.

As we review these five lines of argument we observe that their force lies in their combination. As each thread of a rope may be easily broken while separated, though the rope as a whole may be unbreakable, so it may be said that each of these proofs taken alone may be inconclusive, but when all five are united they are conclusive of the Personal existence of God. Nor are we concerned with the essential difference between theology and other sciences in regard to nature and method. While no science proves is own first principles, but must derive them from elsewhere or assume them, theology uses the fact of the existence of God both as premiss and conclusion.[30] So that if we grant belief in the existence of a Personal God the value of these proofs may be stated as follows: The Ontological argument proves God’s Perfection; the Cosmological argument proves God’s Causality; the Teleological argument proves God’s Intelligence; the Anthropological argument proves God’s Personality; the Christological argument proves God’s Character as Love.

It is also important to remember that belief in God always contains a moral element and cannot be limited to that which is merely intellectual.[31] It is for this reason that the various proofs associated with natural theology cannot originate the idea of God in one who does not possess it. The idea must first of all be postulated, and then the proofs become powerful and cumulative.[32] While, therefore, we must not undervalue natural theology,[33] yet to Christians the argument from nature is rather the confirmation of our belief in God than the foundation of it. Christian Theism is not merely natural theology in the light of Christ’s teaching, or even Christ added to the God of natural theology; it is Theism embodied in and expressed by Christ, so that in Him we see Who and what God is and are thereby satisfied (John 14:8). Thus “Theism needs Revelation to complete it”.[34]

It may be well to point out at this stage that the position of this Article is a testimony to the fact that the doctrine of God is fundamental for all else, settling everything. As this is, so will be our idea of Religion, Christ, the Bible, Man, Sin, and Revelation. It is the regulative idea and covers the whole of life.


>> 2. The Nature Of God


[2] “We do not reach the idea of God as the final and irrefragable result of a long chain of syllogistic reasoning. Neither do we find God vindicated to the intellect as the crown of a slow and patient induction from data given to us in consciousness. No doubt the apprehension of God is an intellectual act, but it is an intellectual act that is saturated with emotion” (Miller, Problem of Theology, p. 15 f; see also Note B, p. 306).

[3] Everett, Theism and the Christian Faith(Unitarian and Hegelian).

[4] Litton, Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, Second Edition, p. 61; see also Strong, Manual of Theology, p. 33; Miller, Topics of the Times, “The Idea of God”, pp. 10, 23.

[5] Peake, Christianity: Its Nature and Truth, Ch. 4.

[6] “It is very doubtful whether a single individual has ever found God as the sequence of a syllogistic process. Today the agnostic points out hopeless flaws in the argument, and the vast majority of intellectual believers ground their faith on a totally different basis. But though we cease to hold these arguments as demonstrations of God’s existence they are still essential elements in enriching our knowledge of God. Rightly apprehended, they have an all-important place in the communion of the soul with God, and in strengthening those tendrils of faith with which the human spirit grasps the Divine” (Miller, ut supra, p. 16 f.).

[7] T. & T. Clark, 1906

[8] Strong, ut supra, p. 25.

[9] Strong, ut supra, p. 27; see also Litton, ut supra, p. 59 f.

[10] Litton, ut supra, p. 60.

[11] Orr, Christian View of God and the World, Tenth Edition, p. 103 f.
“I cannot but maintain, therefore, that the ontological argument, in the kernel and essence of it, is a sound one, and that in it the existence of God is really seen to be the first, the most certain, and the most indisputable of all truths” (Orr, ut supra, p. 106).

[12] A. D. Kelly, Rational Necessity of Theism, pp. 142-149.

[13] A. D. Kelly, ut supra, pp. 50, 156.

[14] Warschauer, The Atheist’s Dilemma, p. 22 f.

[15] “This common-sense Theism, however roughly defined, has elements of truth in it. No sophistry will prevail on us to throw it away. It is held that the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, in his doctrine of a first cause of motion outside the universe, stated a cosmological proof for the being of God” (Mackintosh, A First Primer of Apologetics, p. 35). See also Orr, ut supra, p. 95.

[16] “The Design argument is the expression of a deeply-rooted and reasonable conviction that a world existing apart from purpose is not a rational world at all, that is, it is not a world which answers to the demand of our reason. As stated in its traditional form it lacks convincingness. But if we turn our minds from adaptations manifested in a particular organism to the fact of the universe as a whole – to the fact that the universe is a Cosmos not a Chaos, the old argument regains its old force” (A. D. Kelly, ut supra, p. 155).

[17] Strong, ut supra, p. 20.

[18] “Man has five senses. Each one of these admits him into a different world. The world of sight is not the same as the world of sound, or the world of sound as the world of smell. But man’s capacity to live and utilise his experience depends upon his being able at will to translate the reports of one sense into terms of another, and to feel himself certain of the truthfulness of his results” (Strong, ut supra, p. 21).

[19] “I cannot conceive how the phenomena of consciousness as such, and apart from the physical processes by which they are called into existence, are to be brought within bounds of physical science” (Quoted in A. D. Kelly, ut supra, p. 29).

[20] Orr, ut supra, “God as Religious Postulate”. Appendix to Lecture 3, p. 112.

[21] Henslow, Present-Day Rationalism critically Examined; Orr, God’s Image in Man; Otto, Naturalism and Religion. It is also obvious that Natural Selection cannot apply to the inorganic world which is dead, and yet the geological strata, comprising over a hundred zones, are without exception advantageous to man. This is a clear proof of the force of the Teleological argument in the inorganic realm.

[22] “We may otherwise make too much of the effect of the discovery of the principle of ‘natural selection’. It is very doubtful whether this principle will be found able to bear all the burden which some would place upon it. … It is by no means plain that current theories of ‘evolution’ have so disposed of the Argument for Design in every possible form as is sometimes hastily assumed” (Webb, Problems in the Relations of God and Man, p. 161).

[23] “There is a good deal of talk and not a little lamentation about the so-called religious difficulties which physical science has created. In theological science, as a matter of fact, it has created none. Not a solitary problem presents itself to the philosophical theist at the present day which has not existed from the time that philosophers began to think out the logical grounds and the logical consequences of Theism. … The doctrine of Evolution is neither theistic nor anti-theistic. It simply has no more to do with Theism than the first book of Euclid has” (Quoted in A. D. Kelly, ut supra, p. 37).

[24] For the general subject of Evolution and the Christian Religion see, in addition to the works quoted or referred to above: Stokes, Gifford Lectures, Second Series, Lecture 10; McCosh, The Religious Aspect of Evolution; Gurnhill, Some Thoughts of God, Chs. 7, 8; Gant, Modern Natural Theology, Ch. 1; Kennedy, Natural Theology and Modern Thought, Ch. 3; Salmon, Evolution and Other Papers, Ch. 1; Fairhurst, Organic Evolution Considered; Orr, God’s Image in Man, s.v. Evolution.

[25] “Considered as proofs, in the ordinary sense of the word, they are open to the objections which have been frequently urged against them; but viewed as an analysis of the unconscious or implicit logic of religion, as tracing the steps of the process by which the human spirit rises to the knowledge of God, and finds therein the fulfilment of its own highest nature, these proofs possess great value” (Caird, Introduction to Philosophy of Religion, p. 133). See also Litton, ut supra, p. 62 ff.; Webb, ut supra, pp. 154-188; Orr, ut supra, p. 94.

[26] “The old theistic proofs have their value. Yet it is doubtful how far, apart from revelation, reason can make us sure of a personal God; and it is certain that only revelation can do what is of vital importance for us – introduce us to God’s friendship. Moreover, Kant seems to strike the right note at least in this respect, when he tells us that we are concerned to be certain of God, of immortality, and of free will. The Christian knowledge of God (whatever previous elements it may take up into itself) is the knowledge of God in Christ as our Friend and our Saviour. Where do we see God acting a Father’s part? Where does He directly manifest Himself as a Person, personally interested in the welfare of beings who seem so often the sport of Nature’s laws? How can we obtain permanent, lasting assurance of His favour? There is only one answer” (Mackintosh, A First Primer of Apologetics, p. 38 f.).

[27] “But no one of these methods conducts a man to a true knowledge of the nature of God so long as he is ignorant of the revealed testimonies which Christianity awakens around us and in us” (Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, p. 74).

[28] W. Adams Brown, Christian Theology in Outline, p. 125. See also Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression.

[29] “Sanctioned by usage as it is, the distinction which the epithet connotes is open to question; Natural Religion, like the social contract, exists for thought rather than in things. … No one ever held or taught it: it is an abstraction or residuum left behind by concrete religions when the rest of the conception has been thought away. The evidences of religion are historical and psychological; religion is part both of civilization and of the furniture of the mind. But the isolation of such notions as God, freedom, and immortality is formal; the proofs, however irrefutable, do not convince” (Review of Mr. A. J. Balfour’s “Theism and Humanism” in The Nation, 2nd October 1915).

[30] Strong, ut supra, p. 2 f.
“To take a parallel case, the evidence for the existence of our own personality is of the same character as the evidence for the existence of God. It appears both as conclusion and as premiss. To prove the existence of my own personality, I must assume it. … The evidence we allege in proof of the fact proves also that the investigation is reasonable only when the fact is assumed – that is, that the existence of God is the hinge upon which the whole process turns” (Strong, ut supra, p. 3).

[31] Strong, ut supra, p. 7 f.

[32] Miller, Topics of the Times, “The Idea of God”, pp. 6-11.

[33] “A thoroughgoing denial of natural theology has usually proved a help to religious scepticism rather than to the assertion of revelation” (Mackintosh, ut supra, p. 33).

[34] Orr, God’s Image in Man, pp. 77-79, 111.


back to top

Related Links

The Principles of Theology

>> Buy from the online store

>> 39 Articles Issues pages

>> Griffith-Thomas biography

Article 1

>> Introduction to Article 1

>> 1 - Existence of God

>> 2 - Nature of God

>> 3 - Attributes of God

>> 4 - Manifestation of God in Nature

>> 5 - Revelation of God in Christ

>> The History of the Doctrine

>> Issues page on Article 1

Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




>> Ussher : A Body of Divinity

Available Online

>> Churchman

>> Cross†Way

>> Principles of Theology

>> English Prayer Book

>> Clergy Appointments

>> Remembrance Sunday

From the Archives

>> Church Association Tracts

>> Great Churchmen

>> Veritatis Viribus

>> Church Book Room

>> Old Reports

>> Other Leaflets

The Store

>> Churchman

>> Cross†Way

>> Conference CDs

>> Church Society titles

>> Other Publishers

 search church society
Bullet Click for advanced search
Home | About us | Publications | Store | Issues | Events | Press releases
Membership | Contact us | Search | Links | Churchman | Church Society Trust | Cross+way