Why The Gospel Is Not In The Stars: Nature Is Not Grace

In 1882 the Lutheran minister Joseph A. Seiss (1823-1904) published the provocative volume, The Gospel in the Stars, Or, Prímeval Astronomy (Philadelphia: E. Claxton & company, 1882). Evidently it found an audience and it has been reprinted as recently as the early 1970s and again in 2005. In this 196p volume Seiss argued,

“Not to the being and attributes of an eternal Creator alone, but, above all, to the specific and peculiar work of our redemption, and to Him in whom standeth our salvation are “lights in the firmament” the witnesses and “signs.”

Seiss is not the only American evangelical to have argued this thesis. The American Presbyterian pastor and tele-evangelist, D. James Kennedy argued a similar thesis from the pulpit and in print. Read more»

R. Scott Clark, “Is The Gospel In The Stars? Or The Distinction Between Nature And Grace,” The Heidelblog (November 21, 2008).

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Well, one particular star did have SOME Gospel content – but that star was probably not natural (It may even have been an angel!).

    • John,

      Even then, the gospel was not in the stars. The star features in the gospel narrative but the gospel itself was never deducible from that star.

    • Laura,

      Correlation is not causation. The star is a part of the narrative but no one, looking at that star, absent special revelation of the gospel of the incarnation, could deduce the gospel of the incarnation, obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and return of Christ.

      Yes, Christ is the Morning Star figuratively but we only know that because of special revelation (grace). We do not know it and cannot know it from nature.

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