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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the simultaneous rejection and endorsement of natural theology within Protestantism, focusing on two contentious issues representing the tensions within Protestant perspectives on natural theology. Firstly, it considers the historical theological question of the attitude to natural theology amongst the Reformers and the post-Reformation Protestant Orthodoxy. The chapter engages with the established consensus that the increasingly positive evaluation of the possibility and value of natural theology within Protestant Orthodoxy represents a regrettable discontinuity with the ‘original’ rejection of natural theology by the early Reformers. Secondly, it explores the place of natural theology within contemporary Protestant philosophical theology, looking in particular at Alvin Plantinga's ‘Reformed objection to natural theology’. The chapter disputes Plantinga's argument that the Reformers' rejection of classical foundationalism, in favour of a Reformed epistemology in which belief in God can be properly basic, entails a Reformed objection to natural theology. Rather, it suggests the possibility of an alternative Reformed natural theology consistent with the epistemological framework characteristic of Reformed dogmatic theology.

Keywords: Protestantism, Reformers, Protestant Orthodoxy, philosophical theology, Alvin Platinga, classical foundationalism

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