Thomas Goodwin’s Position on Adam’s Natural Theology Before the Fall of Adam

For Goodwin, supernatural revelation is explicitly christocentric, and only Christ could merit a supernatural end on account of the dignity of His person, something Adam could never do as a man “from the earth” contrasted with the “man from heaven,” Jesus Christ. Goodwin explains the distinction between natural righteousness and supernatural grace as the difference between knowledge of God that is natural to man and knowledge of God in a supernatural way that goes “above nature.”  Goodwin considers these two ways of knowing God in the state of innocence.

Goodwin claims that Adam did not have complete, innate knowledge of God’s attributes and so needed to enlarge his “inbred, obscure” knowledge of God.  Similarly, Adam had the knowledge of God’s will sown in his heart, which included the moral law. When confronted with a moral decision, Adam had an innate sense of what to do in any given situation. This moral law remains in humans after the fall, but it is reduced to a mere shadow, “an imperfect counterfeit.”  Further, in agreement with what has been noted above, Adam’s knowledge was improved by observation of creation.

In Goodwin’s mind, whether Adam possessed supernatural knowledge or not comes down to the type of faith—natural or supernatural—required of him under the covenant of works. Supernatural faith, according to Goodwin, enables humans to know revelation from God above the requirements of nature.  Faith is infused for this reason, and most divines refer to faith as a supernatural gift.  Not only did Adam have the “inbred light of nature,” he also “had another window and inlet of knowledge, even revelation from, and communication with, God.”  For this reason, aware that some divines have affirmed that Adam had supernatural revelation from God, Goodwin aims to prove that Adam’s faith was natural—as opposed to the supernatural faith believers receive in the covenant of grace—which means that all Adam had under the covenant of works was natural theology.


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