Johann Heinrich Alsted on Natural Theology
Methodus SS. Theologiae in VI. Libros Tributa (Hanover, 1634), pg. 46-48.
Definitio Theologiae naturalis
Definition of Natural Theology
Theologia naturalis est sapientia rerum divinarum naturali intellectus lumine cognoscibilium.
Natural theology is wisdom of divine things able to be known by the natural light of the intellect.
I. Triplex est Theologiae communicandae modus, Natura, Gratia, Gloria. Ideoque triplex dicitur esse lux, Natura, Liber et Schola: Itemque triplex Dei regnum, potentiae, gratiae, et gloriae.
II. Gratia non destruit naturam, sed eam perficit. Nam subordinata non pugnant. Sicut ergo se habet Gloria ad Gratiam, ita gratia ad naturam et contra.
III. Gratia non est contra naturam sed supra naturam. Etenim Deus est autor [sic] omnis boni in natura, sive illud bonum sit secundum naturam, sive supra naturam. Deus autem sibi ipsi non est contrarius. Proinde nullus fidei articulus est contra rationem adeoque quod est Philosophice verum, etiam verum est Theologice et contra: quia verum vero consonat.
IV. Natura gratiam commendat, gratia naturam emendat.
V. Omnes homines ut sciunt naturam esse Deum, ita et sciunt esse aliquam Theologiam.
VI. Theologia naturali, nec Metaphysicae (ut volunt Scholastici) nec physicae (ut volunt Physici quidam, in quibus sunt Scribonius et Goclenius) est pars, sed Systematis Theologici.
VII. Theologia naturalis reddit hominem inexcusabilem in foro poli.
VIII. De Theologia naturali non est iudicandum a monstrosis et Cyclopicis naturalis.
IX. Fundamentum Theologiae naturalis est duplex, ratio et experientia naturalis: id est, scientia demonstrationis et experientiae, non autem scientia fidei.
X. Theologia naturalis maximam sui partem tractat in initio Geneseos: in libro Iobi: Psal. 8, 19 et 104 et in libro sapientiae.
XI. Theologiae naturalis in intellectu humano notio versatur in rebus communibus, et obscura, et imperfecta est, eoque necesse habet a supernaturali suam perfectionem suscipere.
XII. Haec conditio fuit Theologiae naturalis in Adamo natura integra quam ex principiis communibus, obscuris, et imperfectis coli et augeri ratiocinatione oportebat, et gratia perfici.
XIII. Postquam vero natura haec corrupta fuit, illa quidem ipsa principia, in singulis permanserunt, communia, obscura, atque imperfecta, sed in sese corruptissima, inter se corruptissima, tanquam rudera naturae nostrae, vitiositate nostra.
XIV. Itaque haec Theologia nihil omnino ad perfectionem potest perducere, nec perducit unquam, ac ne perfectionis quidem est per seipsa capax supervenientis a gratia.
I. The mode of communicating theology is threefold: nature, grace, and glory. For that reason, its light is said to be threefold: nature, book, and school. And likewise, the kingdom of God is threefold: of power, of grace, and of glory.
II. Grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it. For subordinate things are not at odds with each other. Therefore, just as glory is related to grace, so grace is to nature and the contrary.
III. Grace is not contrary to nature but above nature. And indeed, God is the author of every good thing in nature, whether that good is according to nature, or above nature. Moreover, God is not in contradiction with himself. Hence, no article of faith is contrary to reason. And thus, that which is philosophically true is also theologically true and the contrary, because truth truly harmonizes.
IV. Nature commends grace, grace emends nature.
V. All human beings, just as they naturally know there is a God, so also know that there is some theology.
VI. Natural theology is neither a part of metaphysics (as the Scholastics wish) nor physics (as certain physicists wish, such as Scribonius & Goclenius), but instead is a part of the system of theology.
VII. Natural theology renders a person inexcusable before the court of heaven.
VIII. With regard to natural theology, it should not be judged on the basis of monstrous and Cyclops-like natures.
IX. The foundation of natural theology is twofold, reason and the experience of nature; that is, the knowledge of argumentation and experience, but not the knowledge of faith.
X. Natural theology is most fully dealt with at the beginning of Genesis, in the book of Job, Ps. 8, 19, and 104, and in the book of wisdom.
XI. The notion of natural theology in the human intellect deals with common things, and is both vague and imperfect, and therefore necessarily has to receive its perfection from the supernatural.
XII. This was the condition [mentioned in Thesis XI] of natural theology in Adam, who had an unfallen nature. It was necessary that this theology be cultivated and enlarged by reasoning from common, vague, and imperfect principles, and that it be perfected by grace.
XIII. But after this nature was corrupted, those principles themselves, indeed, have remained in each individual as common, vague, and imperfect but, on account of our fallen nature, are now, utterly corrupt in themselves, and totally corrupt between themselves, like the debris of our nature.
XIV. Therefore, this [natural] theology is entirely unable to guide [anyone] to perfection, nor does it ever do this. It is not even, by itself, capable of a perfection superadded by grace.