Is Christianity reasonable? How many of the “truths of Christianity” should we be able to find “in nature” or to be “reasonable”? Is Christianity verified through reason or in nature? These were questions pressed upon the Christian faith especially during the Enlightenment. Josh Moody, in his Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment: Knowing the Presence of God, summarizes how Jonathan Edwards, one whose ministry existed in the midst of the Enlightenment’s heyday, addressed these questions (pp 121-22):
Can . . . a high view of Revelation be reconciled with reason? For Edwards, it all depended on the beginning. The dominant picture of Edwards’ understanding of the relationship of reason and revelation is not the . . . one of separate location, but of appropriate order. Revelation comes first. Primary place in Edwards’ mental authority structure was always given to revelation.
On this matter Edwards makes his most vigorous departure from [John] Locke. He disagrees with him that reason can teach us true religion, which he feels is but a “wild fancy,” because history shows true religion began with revelation not reason; reason before revelation went “very wrong.”* The reason which concerns Edwards is “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” reasoning after revelation. Truth “now demonstrable by reason” could never be “found out before” revelation.** Once things have been revealed it seems “as if we could easily arrive at a certainty of them if we never had had a revelation of them.” But to see a truth is reasonable “after we have been told of it” is one thing; it is “another to find out . . . by mere reason.”*** Thus, “The light of nature teaches that Religion, that is necessary to continue in the Favour of the God that made us; But it cannot teach us that Religion, that is necessary to our being restored to the Favour of God, after we have forfeited it.”****