Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics: Volume 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968.
Part C “The Doctrine of God”
We know God only because he has revealed himself in a) creation and b) in the Bible.
Chapter C1, “The Natural Knowledge of God”
Aside from knowing about God through the Bible, we can know something of God by natural revelation. We can see this revelation through God’s creation, which shows his marks. We also see God through his operation in nature and history. Features of our world such as seasonal cycles, a life cycle for a person, and even national history point us to order, not chaos. Pieper also considers that we have a built in perception of the divine as we automatically assume good and bad to exist. We also expect consequences to flow from actions. In a world without God this would not happen. As a result, says Pieper, one must be very irrational and determined to be an atheist. What conclusions can be derived from natural revelation? First, natural revelation will not bring salvation. It is incapable of showing the redemptive love of Christ. Second, natural revelation is very helpful in creating ordered society, particularly including a receptivity to God’s Law and Gospel.
Chapter C2, “The Christian Knowledge of God”
In this chapter Pieper makes a sharp distinction between the knowledge of God available through the Scripture and elsewhere. The Bible presents one true God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is in stark contrast to the other world religions. The pagan polytheism is not allowed for by the Bible, nor is the monotheism in which there is no trinity. This knowledge is not revealed to us anywhere but the Bible.
Pieper reminds us that natural revelation can never give us hope. We are never rescued from a guilty conscience by natural revelation, but only through the Bible’s Jesus, the one who gave himself for our sins. Pieper reminds us of Luther’s portrayals of the hope which comes from the God of the Bible. As opposed to the non-Christian religions, the Bible gives a consistent revelation of God. This is the Christian’s hope.