If contemporary theologians were to make explicit the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling our knowledge of the triune God, then there could be wide agreement that natural theology of whatever stripe is not only unhelpful, but is directly excluded from any serious understanding of theological epistemology.
I immediately let out a huge sigh of relief. Finally, after almost years of questioning and confusion, I found someone who agrees with my hesitations about the classic formulation of natural theology. I have heard what seems like countless scholars, peers, and professors argue for the validity and justification of natural theology in conjunction with the indispensible role of the Holy Spirit. However, unless these same westerners want to deny the filioque clause, I have never understood how the work of the Holy Spirit does not automatically negate the possibility of natural theology. Does not the entire word natural assume that human beings have some innate capacity - by whatever degree - to comprehend the existence of God? It has always seemed to me that once talk of the Holy Spirit enters the equation, the word natural should necessarily vanish. For this reason, I have always believed that those who say they believe one can have knowledge of God apart from special revelation (the Holy Scriptures, knowledge of Christ, etc.) either 1) only pay lip service to the role of the Holy Spirit or 2) deny the filioque clause thus believing that individuals can come to know the Father apart from the Son.
Getting back to Molnar's essay, he goes on to point out that some scholars, such as John Courtney Murray, argue that "we can know that God is but we cannot know what he is" (5). There are no shortage of Christian philosophers who believe and passionately argue that one can believe God's exists without knowing who this God is. Such philosophers usually have an abundance of literature that label God with names like "the first Cause" or the "Ultimate Being" thus stripping Him of all the names God has given of Himself through His self-revelation. Molnar asserts that to separate the question of God's existence from His identity "is the first mistake that follows from failing to realize that our knowledge of who or what God is comes positively to meet us in Christ and thus through his Spirit as an act of God" (7). In effect, the question becomes what role the Son possesses in relation to the Father if the Son is ultimately unnecessary for knowledge of God. Furthermore, such an affirmation of knowledge of God apart from the encounter with Jesus Christ inevitably separates the work of the Spirit from the Son. To me, this paves the way for a type of inclusivity that I fear is unintended by most who advocate such a way forward.
Unfortunately, I started writing this entry much later than I planned. I'll have to continue this at a later date.