Divine Voluntarist Distinction Between Moral and Positive law

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
From what I recall, usually one would say that the moral law reflects God's nature, while positive law is purely based on the will of the Lawgiver. But given divine voluntarism, how does one distinguish between moral and positive law, since on that view the divine willing is the divine nature?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
All divine revelation, including divine law, is accommodated to our creaturely state. Any reference to the divine nature and will is therefore confined to what God has willed to show of Himself to us. The divine essence remains hidden from us. There can be no "essential" division of the divine nature and will. Certain modes of speaking are acceptable which indicate a functional difference as related to us, but this language should not be taken too far.

Moral law is said to be natural in the sense that it accords with nature and there is reason to enforce it; therefore it applies in all situations. Positive law is said to be based upon the bare will of God only in the sense that His will (command) is the sole reason for obedience; therefore it is tied to specific situations only.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you, Austin and Mr. Winzer. The difference then is one of reasons for obedience: positive law having the will of God alone, while moral law additionally having nature and reason attached to it. So the moral law arises partly due to the way Creation was made. And perhaps that is where the Creator-creature and creature-creature relations can come in as being one of those extra reasons that makes the moral law applicable in all situations.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
Just a few initial thoughts as I consider a topic that is still very new to me:

That God commands us to have no other gods before Him would appear to reflect the fundamental relationship between the Creator and the creature, but does it have to? God honors Himself too, right?

What is at the root of God's zeal for His own glory but the supreme worth of His own name? Even if He created no creatures, He would still value His name infinitely. Is it true that the very reason God commands us to have no other gods before due to the fact that He values His own name most supremely? To say that this moral command reflects the Creator-creature relationship seems to make God's glory visible only because there are creatures. True, it is fitting that we have no other God's before Him because it reflects our relationship to Him, but is the morality of the command rooted more in His nature than in our relationship to Him?

I am not even an armchair theologian. I'm just layman trying to make sense of it all.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
That God commands us to have no other gods before Him would appear to reflect the fundamental relationship between the Creator and the creature, but does it have to? God honors Himself too, right?

The command is an injunction to the creature to have no other gods before him. Besides, what about "Thou shalt not kill"? I am not saying that the moral law is not rooted in God's nature/will, but it is revealed to us in the context of our position as creatures and in terms that relate to our relations as creatures. That is why it can be summarized in our duties to God and our duties to men.

So, when God commands us to have no other gods before Him it is both rooted in His nature and revealed to us in the context of our position as creatures. Could it be said that what is moral about the law has it's root in God's nature while the revealed law reflects our what our relationship should look like before Him? There. Two contexts. Of course, we could say that it is also moral to behave accordingly as creatures.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Interestingly enough, I remember noticing from my most recent reading of Euthyphro some months ago that there seems to be no consciousness of moral and positive law. Instead, there is simply what is "right" (or perhaps more accurately, what is "pious"), which includes everything from what we consider moral duties to what we consider positive duties (e.g., specific actions of worship).
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
What is at the root of God's zeal for His own glory but the supreme worth of His own name? Even if He created no creatures, He would still value His name infinitely. Is it true that the very reason God commands us to have no other gods before due to the fact that He values His own name most supremely? To say that this moral command reflects the Creator-creature relationship seems to make God's glory visible only because there are creatures. True, it is fitting that we have no other God's before Him because it reflects our relationship to Him, but is the morality of the command rooted more in His nature than in our relationship to Him?
What Matthew was trying to note about revelation is that we, as creatures, don't know God a se. That is to say: in Himself. God, alone, knows Himself in Himself. If, what you propose about the nature of God is true, it is not true because we speculate about the nature of God apart from revelation as if we can penetrate the essence of the Creator, in Himself, and draw conclusions from it. If the above is true it is because special revelation has revealed that the above is the nature of God. He has condescended to "lsip" to creatures in a manner that we can apprehend something of Him even if we cannot comprehend it. This is where we must begin and end. There is some revelation of God in natural revelation but even that is revelation and can only be apprehended properly if we are born from above. No matter if the revelation is special or general, however, do we ever have room to speculate. The secret things belong to God and however much we might want to speculate about the nature of God without revelation, we are not progressing in understanding but entering into a labyrinth.
 
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