David Chilton on Natural Law

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Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Days of Vengeance pg 157-158& 400

"
There is no such thing as Nature. God has not given any inher- ent power of development to the universe as such. God created the universe and all life by immediate actiorw, not by mediate processes. When God withdraws His Breath (which is the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life), death follows immediately (Gen. 7:22). The idea that God wound up the universe and then let it run its course, so that there is such a thing as Nature which has an intrinsic power, is Deism, not Christianity. Theistic evo- lution is Deism, not Christianity. To the extent to which the pro- cesses of Nature replace the acts of God in any system, to that extent the system has become Baalistic.�23 �Because of the influence of neo-Baalism (secular human- ism) in our modern culture, we tend to think that God, when He made the world, installed certain �natural laws� or processes that work automatically and impersonally. This is a Deistic, not a Christian, view of the world. What we call natural or physical law is actually a rough approximate generalization about the or- dinary activity of God in governing His creation. Matter, space, and time are created by God, and are ruled directly and actively by Him. His rule is called �law.� God almost always causes things to be done the same way, according to covenant regularities (the Christian equivalent of natural laws), which covenant regulari- ties were established in Genesis 8:22. Science and technology are possible because God does not change the rules, so man can confidently explore the world and learn to work it. Such confi- dence, though, is always a form of faith, faith either in Nature (Baal) and natural law, or faith in God and in the trustworthi-ness of His commitment to maintain covenant regularities.�zd

There is no such thing as natural �law�; rather, as Auguste Lecerf has said, �the constant relations which we call natural laws are simply �divine habits�: or, better, the habitual order which God imposes on nature. It is these habits, or this habitual proc- ess, which constitute the object of the natural and physical sciences.�9 This is what guarantees the validity and reliability of both scientific investigation and prayer: On the one hand, God�s angels have habits � a cosmic dance, a liturgy involving everyaspect of the whole universe, that can be depended upon in all of man�s technological labors as he exercises dominion under God over the world. On the other hand, God�s angels are personal beings, constantly carrying out His commands; in response to our petitions, He can and does order the angels to change the dance. 10 There is, therefore, an �Angel of the Waters� (in terms of St. John�s zodiacal progression, this is presumably the cherub of the fourth quarter, Aquarius); I� he, along with all of God�s personal creation, rejoices in God�s righteous government of the world. God�s strict justice, summarized in the principle of lex talionis, is evidenced in this judgment; the punishment fits the crime."

The above is totally radical in my opinion. Consider the following from the Catholic Encyclopedia, "In its strictly ethical application–the sense in which this article treats it–the natural law is the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us."

Can you guys give me your definitions, and which you think is best.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Although I note the hyper-irony in what I am about to say, John Robbins has an excellent rebuttal to natural law.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I think Chilton and the Catholic Encyclopedia are using 'natural law' in two different (but related) senses. According to Chilton's usage natural law refers to the order by which God governs the universe (although he dislikes the term I dont think he contradicts the traditional meaning). The CE is refering to the ethical principles man can collect by reason (aided by grace) from this order. (Roman 2:14)

[Edited on 10-18-2006 by Peter]
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
One of the problems in discussing natural law is there several different definitions of it.
Is one referring to looking at natural order and inferring ethical principles from it (a logical fallacy)?
Is one referring to the moral law written on the heart? This one is better but really begs the question along Christian lines--a position which the unbeliever will not for a moment grant. But the whole point of it was to find neutrality with the unbeliever. I do find it odd that some van tillians are extolling neutrality-which is the very thing van til sought to deny.

The second one is better but insufficient standing alone. Can one develop a penalogy from "the work of the law written on the heart?" etc.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
An even greater irony is that many Reformed folk have taken a Barthian position (denying the existence of natural law) without realizing it.

It's odd too that we knew what natural law was for several thousand years, until the 20th century when it simply evaporated.

Read Calvin. Read Bullinger. Read Bucer. Read virtually any Reformed thoelogian of the 16th or 17th century and they can tell you what natural law is.

True, Wollebius, Voetius, Turretin, Witsius, Owen, Calvin, Ursinus, aren't David Chilton, but we shall have to muddle through anyway.

rsc
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion) (Paperback)
by Stephen J. Grabill

Contents
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
1. Karl Barth and the Displacement of Natural Law
in Contemporary Protestant Theology 21
2. Development of the Natural-Law Tradition
through the High Middle Ages 54
3. John Calvin and the Natural Knowledge of
God the Creator 70
4. Peter Martyr Vermigli and the Natural Knowledge of
God the Creator 98
5. Natural Law in the Thought of Johannes Althusius 122
6. Francis Turretin and the Natural Knowledge of
God the Creator 152
Conclusion 176
Notes 193
Bibliography 263
Index 299

Brief Description
Is knowledge of right and wrong written on the human heart? Do people know God from the world around them? Does natural knowledge contribute to Christian doctrine? While these questions of natural theology and natural law have historically been part of theological reflection, the radical reliance of twentieth-century Protestant theologians on revelation has eclipsed this historic connection. Stephen Grabill attempts the treacherous task of reintegrating Reformed Protestant theology with natural law by appealing to Reformation-era theologians such as John Calvin, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Johannes Althusius, and Francis Turretin, who carried over and refined the traditional understanding of this key doctrine. Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics calls Christian ethicists, theologians, and laypersons to take another look at this vital element in the history of Christian ethical thought.


Best Price on the Web - Acton $20.00

[ame=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802863132/ref=wl_it_dp/102-7664806-1257760?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3NKI5IN92DI6U&colid=35D52DT7RC8SC]Amazon link[/ame]
I know Amazon is still showing preorder but I saw a copy in my local bookstore.

Here is his blog:
http://commonnotions.blogspot.com/index.html

Many, many posts on natural law. I haven't had time to peruse so I can't say if I endorse him or not. Relevant to the discussion though.

http://anthonybradley.worldmagblog.com/anthonybradley/archives/026365.html
Post with comments

http://www.acton.org/ppolicy/comment/article.php?id=337


[Edited on 10-19-2006 by crhoades]

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by crhoades]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
A Biblical Case for Natural Law
by David VanDrunen
Acton Price $6.00

Brief Description
This monograph is for Christians who are perplexed about the biblical standing of natural law. It offers an explicitly biblical defense for the existence and practical importance of natural law. If natural law is taught in Scripture, it should certainly be affirmed in Christian theology. The Studies In Christian Social Ethics and Economics series compiles topical studies of issues in Christian social ethics and economics integrating biblical studies, theology, economics, political theory, history, and various Christian traditions as centered in the Scriptures. The primary objective is to bring practitioners in these fields together to focus on the implications and applications of Christian social ethics in the church and society.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
An even greater irony is that many Reformed folk have taken a Barthian position (denying the existence of natural law) without realizing it.

I would assume you are on the same page as Daryl Hart, who maintains that we should seek neutrality in the political sphere with the unbeliver. I maintain that if you say this while affirming yourself to be a Van Tillian, you have a logically incompatible argument. You are affirming and denying the same premise: neutrality. This introduces a contradiction in the argument, rendering the conclusion nil (see Frame's book on Van Til).

It's odd too that we knew what natural law was for several thousand years, until the 20th century when it simply evaporated.

Read Calvin. Read Bullinger. Read Bucer. Read virtually any Reformed thoelogian of the 16th or 17th century and they can tell you what natural law is.

True, Wollebius, Voetius, Turretin, Witsius, Owen, Calvin, Ursinus, aren't David Chilton, but we shall have to muddle through anyway.

rsc

1. I don't deny the position of natural law, I just think the question is begged along Christian presuppositions.
2. Didn't Calvin and Co. advocate, also, the enforcement of both tables of God's law?
See this infamous thread? My favorite one is by John Knox affirming the penal sanctions of the old testament in defiance of a tyrant king. Your right. We don't need Chilton telling us these things. Knox will work fine.

John Knox 1514-1572
[A petition " to the Quenis Majestie, and Hir most Honourable Privey Counsall etc."].
" The secound that we requyre, is punishment of horrible vices, sic as ar adultery, fornicatioun, open hurdome, blasphemyecontempt of God, of his Word, and Sacramentis; quhilkis in this Realme, for lack of punishement, do evin now so abound, that syne is reputed to be no syne. And thairfoir, as that we see the present signes of Goddis wrath now manifestlie appear, so do we foirwarne, that he will stryck, or it be long, yf his law without punishement be permitted thus manifestlie to be contempned. Yf any object, that punishementis can nott be commanded to be executed without a parliament; We answer that the eternall God in his Parliament has pronounced death to be the punishment for adulterye and for blasphemye; whose actis yf ye putt not to executioun, (seeing that Kingis ar but his lieutennentis, having no power to geve lyefe, whair he commandis death,) as that he will reputt you, and all otheris that foster vice, patronis of impietie, so will he nott faill to punishe you for neglecting of his judgements."

works of John Knox; collected and Edited by David Laing. vol.2 (Edin.1864) pp.339-340.

[Edited on 10--19-06 by Draught Horse]

[Edited on 10--19-06 by Draught Horse]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Does revealed/Scriptural law contradict natural law ?

Same or different in content? Is one more robust? Sure? Detailed?

Should we seek lowest common denominator with the unbeliever in "natural" law or should we lift them up toward Scripture and not give them a way out on their own presuppositions - i.e. natural without recourse to God?

Random questions to discuss regarding natural law. I ordered both books above - should be interesting reading. The law of nature is telling me that I need sleep right now...g'night all.
 

rjlynam

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

I don't understand why there should be a problem with most of the Chilton quote. I'm not quite sure of the Aquarius reference or the role of the angels as mentioned, but, don't we serve an awesome God? And could it be that our finite, sin-stained minds struggle to grasp the omnipotence and omnipresence of our God?




Originally posted by Slippery
Days of Vengeance pg 157-158& 400

"The idea that God wound up the universe and then let it run its course, so that there is such a thing as Nature which has an intrinsic power, is Deism, not Christianity. Theistic evolution is Deism, not Christianity. To the extent to which the processes of Nature replace the acts of God in any system, to that extent the system has become Baalistic. Because of the influence of neo-Baalism (secular humanism) in our modern culture, we tend to think that God, when He made the world, installed certain natural laws or processes that work automatically and impersonally. This is a Deistic, not a Christian, view of the world. What we call natural or physical law is actually a rough approximate generalization about the ordinary activity of God in governing His creation. Matter, space, and time are created by God, and are ruled directly and actively by Him. His rule is called law.

Psalm 104 is an excellent passage to bounce this view off of.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Maybe the problem is Van Til then?


also, maybe you're misinterpreting a simple affirmation of the 2,000 year principle as support of some kind of pluralistic political movement.

fyi, I believe in the OT penal sanctions too, I don't see what that has to do with natural law (red herring?).

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by Peter]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Peter
Maybe the problem is Van Til then?


also, maybe you're misinterpreting a simple affirmation of the 2,000 year principle as support of some kind of pluralistic political movement.

fyi, I believe in the OT penal sanctions too, I don't see what that has to do with natural law (red herring?).

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by Peter]

I don't have the quotes on me right now, but I looked last night and Van Til was critiquing Barth on his denial of natural law, so I don't think that is it. Van Til was pointing out that believers and unbelievers will mean different things by the term.

As far as politics and penal sanctions are concerned, there are reformed brethren that want to only have the nations ruled by natural law with no recourse to revelation.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Peter
Maybe the problem is Van Til then?


also, maybe you're misinterpreting a simple affirmation of the 2,000 year principle as support of some kind of pluralistic political movement.

fyi, I believe in the OT penal sanctions too, I don't see what that has to do with natural law (red herring?).

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by Peter]

Most natural law advocates in the Reformed world today deny that we can apply the OT penal sanctions.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
This is neat: I see that David VanDrunen wrote an article in Journal of Law and Religion XXI no. 1 on "The Use of Natural Law in Calvinist Resistance Theory."

Ok, that puts me into sympathy with him. I haven't read the article yet (and won't until tomorrow) but it does highlight a few ironies:

As most of you know on this board, most of my posts have been about killing tyrants, Christian Resistance, and the evils of the Messianic State. The biggest opposition to my thoroughly Reformed outlook (since I pretty much quoted the Puritans, Knox, and Calvin) came from the "Two Kingdom" Klineans. And lo and behold, I am finding one saying thigns that I had been saying.

Now, there is some difference. I can agree with VanDrunen on historical grounds: yes, the Reformers used a natural law argument in resisting tyranny. That is a descriptive claim that appears to be historically validated. The important thing, however, contra those who say we should be good statists and just obey Romans 13, is that the article notes the Reformers advocated resisting tyranny.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
See also R. S. Clark, "Calvin and the Lex Naturalis," Stulos Theological Journal 6 (1998): 1–22. (available via ILL).

Both VanDrunen and Grabill have criticized my juxtaposition of Calvin and Thomas. I'm a little closer to VanDrunen. Grabill's criticisms were stronger and, I think, a little unfair in places. Calvin is no Thomist.

I do have some difficulty with some of CVT's language about natural law.

Read DVD, Grabill, and my piece on Calvin and then we'll talk.

Barth's rejection of natural law created a lot of problems. It's part of how we lost the covenant of works.

"Neutrality" is a loaded word in our circles so it has to be defined carefully in this context.

Remember, in the two-kingdoms scheme, Christ is lord over everything -- I'm not waiting for him to really become Lord in some glorious age on this earth before the consummation -- in distinct ways.

So, there can be no "neutrality," in sense in which CVT usually used the word, relative to the KOG.

CVT, however, did have a vigorous doctrine of common grace which many transformationalists and reconstructionists overlook or reject explicitly (e.g., Gary North wrote a book rejecting CVT's doctrine of common grace AND his eschatology in the mid 80s) which requires a sort of "neutrality" in civil life or in the civil kingdom.

Is road paving "neutral?" Sure. As I've said before on this board there is more neutrality in less ultimate issues and less neutrality in more ultimate issues. Christians and non-Christians need not agree on ultimate issues, nor should they, to pave roads or perform many civil functions.

One of the problems with the Barthian and conservative denial of natural law is that it risk losing the category "nature." Everything becomes "grace" or "redemption," hence the language about "taking back" (right wing) or "redeeming" (left wing) x. What does this mean?

If Jesus is Lord of all, and he is, then why does anything need to be "taken back?" Where in Scripture is Jesus said to have "redeemed" anything but the elect?

This whole discussion misses the Reformed view of grace renewing nature. It partakes of the Anabaptist view of grace obliterating nature.

Is there such a thing as creation? Was creation "good?" Yes. Did it ever become anything other than that? No. Did God institute a law in creation? Yes. What was it? It was the substance of the decalogue. Did that moral law ever go away? No. Do all men know it? Yes. How do I know this? It's the clear doctrine of Rom 1-2.

As I show in the natural law essay, the lit. on this topic is massive and I can't repeat it all here. Do the work and then we'll talk.

rsc

Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
An even greater irony is that many Reformed folk have taken a Barthian position (denying the existence of natural law) without realizing it.

I would assume you are on the same page as Daryl Hart, who maintains that we should seek neutrality in the political sphere with the unbeliver. I maintain that if you say this while affirming yourself to be a Van Tillian, you have a logically incompatible argument. You are affirming and denying the same premise: neutrality. This introduces a contradiction in the argument, rendering the conclusion nil (see Frame's book on Van Til).

It's odd too that we knew what natural law was for several thousand years, until the 20th century when it simply evaporated.

Read Calvin. Read Bullinger. Read Bucer. Read virtually any Reformed thoelogian of the 16th or 17th century and they can tell you what natural law is.

True, Wollebius, Voetius, Turretin, Witsius, Owen, Calvin, Ursinus, aren't David Chilton, but we shall have to muddle through anyway.

rsc

1. I don't deny the position of natural law, I just think the question is begged along Christian presuppositions.
2. Didn't Calvin and Co. advocate, also, the enforcement of both tables of God's law?
See this infamous thread? My favorite one is by John Knox affirming the penal sanctions of the old testament in defiance of a tyrant king. Your right. We don't need Chilton telling us these things. Knox will work fine.

John Knox 1514-1572
[A petition " to the Quenis Majestie, and Hir most Honourable Privey Counsall etc."].
" The secound that we requyre, is punishment of horrible vices, sic as ar adultery, fornicatioun, open hurdome, blasphemyecontempt of God, of his Word, and Sacramentis; quhilkis in this Realme, for lack of punishement, do evin now so abound, that syne is reputed to be no syne. And thairfoir, as that we see the present signes of Goddis wrath now manifestlie appear, so do we foirwarne, that he will stryck, or it be long, yf his law without punishement be permitted thus manifestlie to be contempned. Yf any object, that punishementis can nott be commanded to be executed without a parliament; We answer that the eternall God in his Parliament has pronounced death to be the punishment for adulterye and for blasphemye; whose actis yf ye putt not to executioun, (seeing that Kingis ar but his lieutennentis, having no power to geve lyefe, whair he commandis death,) as that he will reputt you, and all otheris that foster vice, patronis of impietie, so will he nott faill to punishe you for neglecting of his judgements."

works of John Knox; collected and Edited by David Laing. vol.2 (Edin.1864) pp.339-340.

[Edited on 10--19-06 by Draught Horse]

[Edited on 10--19-06 by Draught Horse]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
See also R. S. Clark, "Calvin and the Lex Naturalis," Stulos Theological Journal 6 (1998): 1–22. (available via ILL).

Both VanDrunen and Grabill have criticized my juxtaposition of Calvin and Thomas. I'm a little closer to VanDrunen. Grabill's criticisms were stronger and, I think, a little unfair in places. Calvin is no Thomist.

Were their criticisms in print? Do you follow KARL-HEINZ ZUR MUHLEN's entry of Two Kingdoms in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation?

Calvin. As in the city republic of Zurich, the city council of the city republic of Geneva claimed authority for the external religious peace in the city. By the same token, Calvin was even more strongly concerned than Zwingli to see church discipline as a task of the congregation. Civic government and the church are essentially not in tension but complement one another. According to Calvin, a dual regiment of God prevails among humans, namely, the regimen spirituale and the regimen civile. Calvin did not take over the Augustinian dualism of two kingdoms. Rather, he spoke of two regiments that rule over humans spiritually and politically. Accordingly, Calvin placed alongside the regnum Christi ("reign of Christ") or the regnum coeleste ("reign of heaven"), the ordinatio civilis ("civic ordination") or thepol-itiae ratio ("political manner") and distinguished the rule of Jesus Christ, on the one hand, and the civic political order, on the other. Each has different tasks. Christ's spiritual regiment is concerned to instruct consciences in piety and in the adoration of God, while the task of civic government is to demand the fulfillment of civic duties. According to Calvin, both regiments must be considered sui generis. The spiritual regiment does not dissolve the civic order, even as conversely the civic law must not rule over consciences. "Both regiments in no way contradict one another." According to Romans 13:1, government has a function legitimized by God, namely, to care for peace and law and to "cultivate external worship, protect it, and to defend the wholesome teaching of piety and the good estate of the church." Such care for external piety included, according to valid heresy laws, also the persecution of antitrinitarians and Anabaptists. The trial against the antitrinitarian Michael Servetus was not only prompted by Calvin but was also the application of heresy law in a city republic with a medieval constitution. In case the state transgressed its proper competencies, Calvin argued for a right of resistance against tyrants. However, this right of resistance is legally regulated and does not apply to individuals, who only have a passive right of resistance and are to implore God for help. The so-called lower authorities—specifically the "lower authorities" in France—have an active right of resistance and are entitled to resist royal injustice. Collectively, church and state form the externa media vel adminicula ("fundamental supports") "with which God in Christ invites us to live in community and retains us in it."

Not looking for a long answer. I do want to read your article whenever I can make it Vandy's library. That is unless you have a digital copy laying around that you could email...;)

[edit] Just realized I confused the categories of Natural Law and Two-Kingdom theory. Anyhoo...how related are they in your mind? Did the fact that Calvin pushed for the enforcement of the 1st table of the Law make him less in the natural law camp or does he still follow natural law and go beyond it to special revelation?[/edit]

Like I said above, ordered VanDrunen and Grabill and looking forward to reading them. I really want to pick up Vermigli's work on Aristotle's Ethics but it's a tad too pricey at this point.

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by crhoades]
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Email me off-list.



Were their criticisms in print?

Grabill's is probably in his book. I don't know how much David has said in print - a little maybe. The basic criticism is that I divorce Thomas and Calvin too sharply.

Do you follow KARL-HEINZ ZUR MUHLEN's entry of Two Kingdoms in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation?

"cultivate external worship, protect it, and to defend the wholesome teaching of piety and the good estate of the church." Such care for external piety included, according to valid heresy laws, also the persecution of antitrinitarians and Anabaptists.

The survey seems fair enough. What VanDrunen, Hart, Horton (he's written on this recently, but I don't recall where) and others are seeking to do is to disentangle the theory of the two kingdoms from it's 16th century theocratic setting. This setting is reflected in the bit of the encyclopedia entry preserved above.

Yes, natural law and two kingdoms are closely related. The former is the charter, if you will, for the civil kingdom. The two kingdoms is the structure or framework within which the natural law is applied.

So my point is twofold:

1. Natural law is an important point of the historic and confessional Reformed ethic. It's denial constitutes a rejection of important ideas and results in serious damage to Reformed theology and ethics, to wit: Barth. Like many QIRC-y Reformed types, about the only thing Barth really liked about Reformed theology was double predestination which he re-configured radically to suit his own program.

The reconstructionist movement cannot keep trashing natural law and expect NOT to become Barthian in some respects. Indeed, some of them are. They are following Barth in reconstructing Reformed covenant theology. These things are related. This is ironic because they also want to be Van Tillian and no one was more critical of Barth than CVT. See Barth's dialogue with Brunner in NEIN!

2. The theory espoused by the tradition and embodied in the confession needs to be re-contextualized for a post- or non-theocratic setting. What does the two-kingdoms approach look like outside of Christendom? That's the question. I think Hart, Horton, and VanDrunen are doing a good job at fleshing out that answer.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.

Have you read John Robbins' critique of natural law?
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.

Have you read John Robbins' critique of natural law?

I've read almost everything from the website, and have listened to all of the lectures available in audio. I have seen you make this comment several times on the board, which specific article/lecture are you refering to?

My problem is that I can see both sides. I think this is one place where my system of theology seems to contradict itself. I need to study on this more.
 

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
Scott

Are you familiar with Budziszewski's book on Natural Law ?

What We Can't Not Know: A Guide


Excellent read.

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/What-We-Cant-Not-Know/dp/189062649X"]Amazon.com: What We Can't Not Know: A Guide: Books: J. Budziszewski[/ame]





Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
An even greater irony is that many Reformed folk have taken a Barthian position (denying the existence of natural law) without realizing it.

It's odd too that we knew what natural law was for several thousand years, until the 20th century when it simply evaporated.

Read Calvin. Read Bullinger. Read Bucer. Read virtually any Reformed thoelogian of the 16th or 17th century and they can tell you what natural law is.

True, Wollebius, Voetius, Turretin, Witsius, Owen, Calvin, Ursinus, aren't David Chilton, but we shall have to muddle through anyway.

rsc
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.

Have you read John Robbins' critique of natural law?

I've read almost everything from the website, and have listened to all of the lectures available in audio. I have seen you make this comment several times on the board, which specific article/lecture are you refering to?

My problem is that I can see both sides. I think this is one place where my system of theology seems to contradict itself. I need to study on this more.

The journal it appeared in is now defunct. I will copy the article and mail it to you.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.

Have you read John Robbins' critique of natural law?

I've read almost everything from the website, and have listened to all of the lectures available in audio. I have seen you make this comment several times on the board, which specific article/lecture are you refering to?

I found the most references to natural law theory in Conservatism: An Autopsy from the Trinity Review of March 2002.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Chris,

You fail to make some important distinctions, chiefly the distinction between ultimate and penultimate things.

Without that distinction we virtually lose our doctrine of providence, i.e., God gives, in creation, human beings as image bearers, with gifts that they use.

On a penultimate level, these gifts are "common" (universal) to humanity.

Should human beings acknowledge their Creator? Yes! Are they in rebellion when they do not? Yes! Does that rebellion invalidate the exercise of their gifts and the benefits that accrue to all of us, believer and unbeliever alike? To say "yes" to this question is to take the Anabaptist view of things, it is to say that the "secular" (a perfectly good category and necessary to our view of worship - give it up and John Frame will be hosting dramas and you'll be singing "Shine Jesus Shine" next Sabbath) is inherently wicked. We don't think that way.

Refuse to make the ultimate/penultimate distinctin and there is a muddle.

Lowest common denominator? Well, the moral law is a common denominator, but as it is divinely given "lowest" is not an apt adjective.

The substance of the natural law is the substance of the decalogue, i.e., that which is not Mosaic. Ergo the moral/natural/creational law requires all humans to rest one day in six. It requires humans not to murder, steal, etc. The civil magistrate has a natural/creational in enforcing some of the moral law, e.g., Gen 9 reflects the creational prohibition on murder. Whether the magistrate has an interest in enforcing 1 day in 7 would be an interesting discussion. Generally it means, in a post-theocratic, post-Christendom world the enforcement of there is or should be no civil enforcement of the second table.

I can't see how this is a "lowest common denominator" approach.

When it comes to ultimate questions as to why the world is the way it is and what what it means -- natural law is after all still only LAW and it only teaches sin it does not provide righteousness -- then we must challenge presuppositions. We can cooperate on the penultimate level without agreeing at the ultimate level. Hence the latet 2-3 ECT documents are necessary only if one accepts the transformationalist (i.e., the refusal to distinguish ultimate and penultimate or between sacred and secular or between civil and ecclesiastical kingdoms) assumptions on which it is based.

rsc
 
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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Only from the interviews on Mars Hill audio.

rsc

Originally posted by caddy
Scott

Are you familiar with Budziszewski's book on Natural Law ?

What We Can't Not Know: A Guide


Excellent read.

http://www.amazon.com/What-We-Cant-Not-Know/dp/189062649X





Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
An even greater irony is that many Reformed folk have taken a Barthian position (denying the existence of natural law) without realizing it.

It's odd too that we knew what natural law was for several thousand years, until the 20th century when it simply evaporated.

Read Calvin. Read Bullinger. Read Bucer. Read virtually any Reformed thoelogian of the 16th or 17th century and they can tell you what natural law is.

True, Wollebius, Voetius, Turretin, Witsius, Owen, Calvin, Ursinus, aren't David Chilton, but we shall have to muddle through anyway.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Jeff,

Natural law for most of the Reformers = the moral law which was published in creation before the fall (hence the covenant of works) and re-stated in Israelitish terms at Sinai (hence the idea of the republication of the covenant of works) and written on the hearts of all humans everywhere (see Rom 1-2). Paul elsewhere calls it the "stoicheia" (often transl. "basic principles" and often misunderstood as some reference to pagan physics).

It's the moral DNA, if you will, embedded in every human being. It's a corollary to the natural knowledge of God that every human has and supresses.

rsc

Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Interesting discussion. I have to admit that I struggle with the idea of natural law, but I also think that my struggle is at least partially due to an unclear definition. I will try to read some of the resources provided.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
So for most reformers, natural law = both tables?

Jeff,

Natural law for most of the Reformers = the moral law which was published in creation before the fall (hence the covenant of works) and re-stated in Israelitish terms at Sinai (hence the idea of the republication of the covenant of works) and written on the hearts of all humans everywhere (see Rom 1-2). Paul elsewhere calls it the "stoicheia" (often transl. "basic principles" and often misunderstood as some reference to pagan physics).

It's the moral DNA, if you will, embedded in every human being. It's a corollary to the natural knowledge of God that every human has and supresses.

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, for all the magisterial Protestants, natural law = moral law = decalogue in both tables.

They were all, more or less, theocrats, even Luther! They did not always distinguish clearly between their own circumstances (as heirs of 1000 years of Christendom their context made it nearly impossible for them to imagine things any other way) and those of national Israel.

That's why I say that we must re-contextualize the 16th century theory of two kingdoms in a post-theocratic, post-Christendom world. The first colonial Synod of the Presbyterian Church in 1729 recognized this fact implicitly.

As I understand the pre- and post-theocratic obligations of the civil magistrate, they do not entail enforcement of the second table. Only the Israelite theocracy was authorized to enforce the second table.

rsc


The substance of the natural law is the substance of the decalogue, i.e., that which is not Mosaic. Ergo the moral/natural/creational law requires all humans to rest one day in six. It requires humans not to murder, steal, etc. The civil magistrate has a natural/creational in enforcing some of the moral law, e.g., Gen 9 reflects the creational prohibition on murder. Whether the magistrate has an interest in enforcing 1 day in 7 would be an interesting discussion. Generally it means, in a post-theocratic, post-Christendom world the enforcement of the civil enforcement of second table.
 
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