Eleven Theses on Natural Law

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1. At the foundational level, natural law needs to refer what nature teaches us, and not to what any particular men have said about it. Natural law theorists are commentators on the text, and commentaries on a great text always differ among themselves. We should not make the mistake of rejecting the text because we have rejected any or even most of the commentaries.

2. Accepting the authority of natural law in the sense I am describing does not require a nature/grace dualism. That dualism is found in some of the commentaries, but not in the stars. What is nature but one vast repository of grace? And what is the grace of God but something manifested in all of His works?

3. If we accept what special revelation teaches us about natural revelation, we need to have some sort of doctrine of natural law. This is because natural revelation creates the profound and ongoing moral obligation to worship the true God.

4. The God who speaks through nature speaks in Scripture, and the God who speaks in Scripture was born of a virgin in Bethlehem.

5. Those who accept natural law in this sense do not believe that natural law operates independently of what God has told us more specifically in the Scriptures. Special revelation is consistent with natural revelation, but it also trumps it. Moses outranks the natural order, and Jesus outranks Moses.

6. Every form of natural law that tries to evade the exhaustive authority of Jesus Christ over every last molecule in the cosmos is to be rejected. But it is also true that every rejection of natural law that tries to evade the exhaustive authority of Jesus Christ over every last molecule in the cosmos is to be rejected.

7. If a man rejects natural law in all its formulations, but insists that special revelation is authoritative over the public square, whether it has been baptized or not, his error is a trivial one. But if he insists on the “Bible only,” and then restricts its authority to those who have voluntarily submitted themselves to it, he is guilty of a serious error.

8. The most serious dualism to avoid is not a nature/grace dualism, but rather the dualism that tries to pretend that the God who speaks in Exodus and Romans is a different God than the one who speaks in Andromeda and the Pleiades.

9. The list given in Romans 1:29-32 demonstrates that, according to special revelation, natural law provides a rather extensive amount of detail when it comes to what God will judge in us. Natural law contains considerable detail.

10. The Reformers held to a chastened form of natural law theory. So should we.

11. The current test case for all theologies of natural law is homosexual marriage. If they allow for it, they are contradicting, in ascending order of importance, what the Lord God has said in the Milky Way, in the human conscience, in the law of Moses, and in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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John Hutchinson
John Hutchinson
6 years ago

Mr. Wilson: I was pleasantly surprised by your point one, which perhaps contrary to your present understanding (I cannot tell as of yet), is not the Reformers’ position. Natural law is ontological not epistemological. If one violates its laws, one will naturally suffer deleterious consequences, in of itself. How that consequence occurs is not necessarily straight lined and predictable because of the complexity and texture of our ontology and existential realities. For instance: If there is too great a disconnect between what one reaps and what one sows in a society, due to positivist state laws for instance; the natural… Read more »