Richard B. Gaffin Jr., “Some Epistemological Reflections on 1 Cor 2:6–16,” Westminster Theological Journal 57, no. 1 (1995): 103–124.
This excellent article examines the structure of 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, links Paul’s teaching to Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 11:25-27 and Luke 10:21-22, and highlights the eschatological dimension of the wisdom of the Spirit in contrast to the wisdom of this age. He concludes that there is an “unbridgeable epistemological gulf between this age and the age to come, the yawning, nothing less than an eschatological chasm between belief and unbelief” (114). Thus, “1 Cor 2:6–16 (1:18–3:23) is the death blow to all natural theology. There is no knowledge of God resident in unbelievers or accessible to them that reduces the eschatological void that separates them from a saving knowledge of God” (123).
There is a debate today in Reformed theology about the role of natural theology and the place that theologians like Thomas Aquinas should play in formulating Protestant theology. Those who argue for a greater use of Thomas appeal to the Reformed Orthodox for precedent. Though writing over 20 years ago, Gaffin addresses this argument:
The prevailing reading of that history today—namely, that seventeenth-century Reformed and Lutheran orthodoxy is an abandonment of the Reformation that prepares the way for the Enlightenment and then Liberalism (until all has been made better by Karl Barth cum suis)—is a gross distortion. It does, however, contain a significant germ of truth. The increasing preoccupation of orthodox dogmatics with natural theology, particularly after Descartes, worked to undermine that orthodoxy and aided the rise of the very rationalism it was opposing. The tension is there, for instance, in Francis Turretin on the role of reason in theology. And the outcome—a permanent lesson that we miss to our theological peril—is the startling swiftness with which in the span of a single generation at the Academy in Geneva, from Turretin father to son, Reformed orthodoxy was virtually displaced and rendered impotent in the face of a frank rationalism, bordering on Socinianism, that was quick to follow. By now, too, we should have learned: natural theology may have a place in Roman Catholic and Arminian theologies—with their semi-Pelagian anthropologies [my apologies to my Arminian friends!] and qualified optimism about the unbeliever’s capacity to know God—but not in a theology that would be Reformed.” [123-24]