Should Reformed Christians engage in natural theology? Or ought we to follow Karl Barth’s famous “nein” to natural theology and instead claim with Barth that all theology starts with Christ? The classical Reformed answer, according to J. V. Fesko, is to answer no to Barth and yes to natural theology.
He has a point. The Gallican Confession (1559), The Belgic Confession (1561), the Canons of Dort (1618–1619), and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) affirm ideas like the book of nature, innate knowledge in terms of common notions, or the light of nature. And in particular, Anthony Burgess, a framer of the WCF, penned a work affirming natural theology (Vindiciae Legis) whose imprint appears in the WCF (So Fesko 2019: 40).
Fesko interprets these sources and gives a close reading to the WCF in particular. In so doing, He closely attends to the original sources and their plain meaning. For example, the Belgic Confession plainly states: “We know God by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book.” The book of nature reveals God.