Natural Law and Resistance Theory

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Puritanboard Clerk
One of the ironies is that theonomists usually get tarred with "being agin' da gubmnt" and not following Romans 13, but when I read Rutherford and natural theorists, these guys offer a far more robust theory of resisting tyrants than Greg Bahnsen ever dreamed of. Besides Van Drunen, has anyone explored the connections between Natural Law and Resistance to Tyrants?


Puritanboard Clerk
I was browsing the web and came across this fine post by Professor Clark.

The problem the Reformed in the French Wars of Religion (from 1562) and by the Reformed in the Netherlands was how to justify resistance against tyranny. Calvin had theorized (Institutes 4.20) that “lesser magistrates” had divinely endowed authority to put tyrants in check. Can that right be transferred or does it belong in some way to a broader body, even to the people? In the Netherlands, nearly two centuries before the American Revolution, the Estates General invoked natural law (143) as the basis for their right of self-determination over against Spanish and Romanist civil and religious tyranny.

Shawn Mathis

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is a highly specialized and large field of study I've been trying to wrap my head around. I have not found a specific book or essay exploring this theme as such but there are a number of books that touch upon it in the study of other related issues.

I found that Natural Law is assumed or succinctly defined in the various works. It is used as an argument for resistance in many works of the past, from Beza to Ames and the early American political sermons. Since Natural Law is simply defined (in my readings) as the 10 Commandments in another form, to argue from it was not a strange idea during the times of the early modern era--a predominately Christian milieu.

I do not have all my notes collected together, but if you want to study it here are the original sources (you can most of them google them):

1. Calvin, Institutes, sermons on 1 Samuel and Daniel and his letters.
2. Beza, Hotman and Mornay, Constitutionalism and Resistance in the Sixteenth Century, ed. Franklin
3. Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, ed. Sandoz
4. Ames, Conscience with the Power and Cases Thereof..., reprint
5. Buchanan, De Jure Regni Apud Scotus
6. Ponet, Treatise on Political Power
7. Goodman, How Superior Powers Ought To Be Obeyed By Their Subjects
8. Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos
9. Milton, Tenure of Kings
10. Althusius, Politica, abridged, Carney
11. Rutherford, Lex Rex

Here are the scholarly works

1. The Reformation of Rights, Witte Jr.
2. Law and Revolution II, Berman
3. Revolution and Religion, Griffin
4. The Covenant Connection, Elazar
5. Paving the Way for Revolution, Sap
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