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By James Barr

Do humans find out about God simply by being people? Or do they want exact divine assistance, in the course of the Bible and the church? usual theology used to be lengthy authorised as a easy aspect in all theology, yet within the 20th century it was once rejected by way of vital theologians, specially Karl Barth. His perspectives denied all usual theology and put larger emphasis at the Bible. yet what if the Bible itself makes use of, is determined by, and helps normal theology? Professor Barr the following pursues those questions in the Bible itself and in the historical past of rules, prior and newer; and he seems to be at their implications for faith and theology within the future.

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Extra info for Biblical Faith and Natural Theology: The Gifford Lectures for 1991: Delivered in the University of Edinburgh (Clarendon Paperbacks)

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We would do better to make a distinction in terms, and speak of persons who ‘possess, use, or respect’ sacred images, reserving the term ‘idolater’ for those who actually worship them or regard them as divine in substance. 36 PAUL ON THE AREOPAGUS point, were not going to do anything about it: they were not going to go out and destroy all statues and images of the divine in their city. But then Paul was not asking them to do that: his actual proposal, his message, was something else in any case.

Lack of lively interest has been a major reason why the very consciousness of the subject has come to be dimmed. But the absence of conflict is not always a sign that all things are well. One area upon which the matter touches is the nature of the Bible and the mode of its interpretation. Any negation of natural theology appears to throw more emphasis upon the Bible, the Bible being one of the main accepted channels of special revelation. In Barth's theology the Word of God existed in three forms: Jesus Christ as the living, personal, Word; the Bible as the written Word, which testifies of him; and the preaching of the Church, in so far as it speaks of him and in accordance with the testimony of Holy Scripture.

Could it tell what is going to happen in the future? Of course it could not. But this is essentially rational argument: it uses the enormous qualitative difference between the piece of wood or stone and the transcendental deity, creator of the world, to mock and discredit idolatrous worship. But—and this is the sequel—Greek thinkers did just the same with the statues and idols of their own culture. The Areopagites, Stoics. and Epicureans of Paul's time in Athens did not for a moment suppose that a statue of wood or metal was an actual deity to be worshipped.

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