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THEOLOGY > God > God's Existence > The Innate Knowledge of God 


Knowledge of God (knowledge that there is a Supreme Being) is a knowledge that every person has. It is a knowledge that is “manifest” (evident) in every individual and knowledge that the wicked “suppress” (Rom. 1:18-19). It is a knowledge that consists of God’s invisible qualities, “His eternal power and Godhead,” and a knowledge that is so “clearly seen” that men are “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Whether this knowledge can best be described as innate (an endowment by God of every man), or intuitive (an automatic knowledge that arises within the individual because of that which is communicated to him from around him), or a combination of the two, the point is that every individual has this knowledge. It is a knowledge that no man is without (see: Innate Knowledge and Intellectually Astute).

To be man is to have knowledge of God; the knowledge is not probable but certain, not a possibility for man but a reality for man. The reasoning and arguments of man do not destroy this knowledge, for the knowledge is an integral part of every man. And it has been there “since the creation of the world” (Rom. 1:20). Man may deny it; man may reject it; but the knowledge remains. “Knowledge of God is both inescapable and universal” (Rushdoony, Biblical Philosophy, 74). Reymond speaks of this God-knowledge as “innate theism” (A Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 143).

To think is to think of God. In fact, one cannot think and not think of God, for God is inescapable. This is to say that God is not the highest evolving thought of man but that the God-thought is consistent with what it is for man to be man. The Creator made the creature capable of thinking, and when the creature thinks he thinks of the Creator—he cannot do otherwise. Written in the universe around man and written on the heart within man is the fact of God. Man thinks of God because God has impressed man indelibly with Himself. No thinking is possible without God, and no thinking is possible without God in the thinking. Really, no thought has meaning unless God is. To think is to face God. To be man is to know that God is God.

This knowledge of God that every man has is essentially ethical and not philosophical; that is, the knowledge imparts a sense of accountability, not just a sense of the fact that God is. It creates an abiding awareness of personal responsibility to God, not just an intellectual knowledge of the being of God. For man to know of God is for man to know that he is answerable to Him. The knowledge instructs man about God but the instruction about God is for the purpose of a confrontation of man by God. To admit God is to be confronted by God. If God exists, man is accountable. God’s existence, finally, is not an intellectual problem, but a moral dilemma.

Even though man has this knowledge of God man has not glorified “Him as God” nor been “thankful” (Rom. 1:21). In fact, the Scripture claims that the truth is suppressed, and this suppression is in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Because of his sin man rejects God; knowledge of God is suppressed and accountability is denied. And this suppression is not based upon man’s lack of evidence from his unbiased examination of reality, but upon man’s determined rejection of Him before whom he should submit. In this sense, man covers his sin. Man’s nature is in opposition to God and His authority. Every man, as in the days of the Judges, has a desire to do what is right in his own eyes (Jud. 17:6; 21:25).

To admit the existence of God is to face the decision of whether to submit to the authority of God or to resist the authority. One bows to God or becomes his own god. Submission or the lack of it is what determines one’s morality. There are really only two choices: Theism or humanism, Life or death, Heaven or Hell (see: Two Options, Starting Point, and Foundations).

It should be understood that this knowledge of God that every man has is not a redemptive knowledge. It is sufficient to render man guilty before God, and thus, accountable to God, but it is not sufficient to save the sinner. Some thinkers, therefore, distinguish between general knowledge and special knowledge, with special knowledge completing what general knowledge initiates. General knowledge is the natural possession of every man by virtue of his creation—to be man is to have it—but special knowledge is the blessing of the grace of God—it is the possession of those loved by the Father before the foundation of the world and chosen to be in Christ. General knowledge occupies the philosopher whereas special knowledge is the passion of the Biblical theologian.

It must be noted, however, that general knowledge can only be interpreted properly from the perspective of special knowledge. With only general knowledge man has a knowledge of Someone (the Supreme Being or Cosmic Mind) he does not know; but once man becomes the recipient of special knowledge—that is, man is Embraced by Truth—he comes to know that the Supreme Being is the Christian God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the I Am of Exodus, and the Logos of John’s writings.

Holy, holy, holy is YHWH of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
Isa. 6:3

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