Is general revelation vague or bare?
This is a fair question but not because God has revealed himself inadequately in the works of creation. It is a good question because Christians have not always been good at fulfilling the promise of Romans 1:18-20. Some have said general revelation shows only a higher power, an unmoved mover, a first cause, a lawgiver, or an intelligent designer—none of these sound like showing God’s eternal power and divine nature.
In the moral realm, some have pointed to the golden rule as evidence of general revelation or natural law. All religions have a version of this rule, it is claimed, so this must be the moral sense God endowed all men with at creation. But in a similar fashion to the above, this falls short of what scripture says in Romans 2:14-15. God’s law as summarized in the Ten Commandments is written on the hearts of men, structured into our very being.
The Westminster Standards support this fuller sense of general revelation and natural law. In the opening lines of the Westminster Confession, it says “Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable[.]” General Revelation shows a God who is good, wise, and powerful so clearly that it leaves all men without an excuse before that very God. In the Larger Catechism, it says the moral law given to Adam was “summarily comprehended” in the 10 Commandments. This is no vague sense of conscience or right and wrong (Q.98). The Decalogue itself was there from the beginning, written on the hearts of men according to the Westminster Divines.
If General revelation, and natural law by extension, are not bare but full, how does one go about demonstrating this? First, there must be an argument to show something must be eternal. Then, it must be shown that only God the creator is eternal (theism vs all forms of occasionalism, monism, dualism, pantheism, deism, atheism, etc.). Once theism has been established, one can demonstrate the nature of God, the purpose of natural evil and moral evil, the moral law derived from humane nature, and the necessity of scripture. None of this sounds vague or bare.
The courses of the General Revelation Institute purpose to walk Christians through these arguments step-by-step so that we may not be taken captive by vain and deceptive philosophy (Col 2:8). We do not have to concede to unbelievers who claim God has not provided enough evidence to believe in Him. God’s general revelation says otherwise and leaves them without excuse.