Your View of Natural Law

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Casey, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Natural law does not exist ontologically and is therefore epistemologically inaccessible for all men

    13.9%
  2. Natural law exists ontologically but is epistemologically inaccessible for fallen men

    19.4%
  3. Natural law exists ontologically and is epistemologically accessible for fallen men

    66.7%
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  1. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    I don't intend for this thread to turn into a heated debate, I just want to see PB members' views. If your view is not represented in the poll options, please say so and perhaps it can be added. I want to know what views exist and which are the predominant ones. :gpl:

    So, if you want to state and explain your view, please do. But let's not have debate or argumentation on this thread (if moderators deem this request inappropriate, please strike it from my post; also, I defer to the wisdom of the moderators to determine what is and what is not debate). :handshake:

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    At the moment I voted 2.
     
  3. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Ditto.
     
  4. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    If #2 is correct, then when people who do not have access to the Bible, sin, do they have the excuse that they do/did not know any better?

    CT
     
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not dogmatic on it. I am still working this out. Without trying to cop out, I really do see pros and cons with both positions. I used to erect straw-men against natural law. I repent of that (though some of my critique was probably accurate). I then read Budidzewksi and St Thomas. They corrected much of my misunderstandings.

    That being said, I don't have what epistemologists call "cognitive rest" on the subject.
     
  6. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted number 3. It is the fallen man's knowledge of God and his law that condemns him (Romans 1 and 2). He has some access to it, just as he does to the rest of general revelation, but he will suppress what he does't like and/or twist it to selfish ends. :2cents:
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I guess I can go with #3 if we allow for the "correlativity" (to use Van Til and Frame's term) of natural law and special revelation. In other words, they can't contradict each other (obviously, both being revelatory of God and God can't have contradictions in his being).
     
  8. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    The implication of #2 is that natural law may not be used as a common ground ethic between Christians and unbelievers. The implication of #3 is that it may so be used. That's how I intended to form the poll, sorry if that was unclear. :doh: Should I have worded it differently?
     
  9. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If the law is a priori, is that considered "epistemologically accessible"?
     
  10. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    #3 because of the passages in Romans, especially with what Puritan Sailor and Ivanhoe said above in their posts! :up:
     
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Casey @ #8:
    That is what I figured you meant. I don't think anyone, even Barthians, would deny that unbelievers know they are doing wrong.
     
  12. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    But at the same time I really doubt that I can go up to Billary or Barak Osama and say, "Look. Look at the natural order. Look at your conscience. Don't you think you should stop the baby-killing in America?" His/her conscience is seared with a hot iron.

    Secondly, I honestly, in good conscience, cannot meet unbelievers on "common, neutral ground." I really cannot concieve of political ethics apart from the Resurrected and Ascended King Jesus. Maybe I should, but then again I do not have cognitive rest on the subject.

    Don't get me wrong. I have benefited from Natural Law theologians. I really do like reading Roman catholics. St Thomas has been very helpful to me and in some ways I do appreciate and draw from his social ethic.
     
  13. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    The distinction I'm talking about is that believers know of the existence of natural law by Scripture and maybe, or maybe not, through nature per se. I've probably used the wrong language to communicate this!
     
  14. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Our common ground with them is that both believers and unbelievers are made in the image of God and live in God's world. And both know God because they stand in a relationship to him. Unbelievers have a relationship of wrath and hostility, beleivers have a relationship of grace.
     
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I think I would agree. I just wouldn't go to the City Council and say, "You use your 'right reason' and I will use mine. I won't mention King Jesus. Let's come up with a good ethic."

    It is important to remember that for the Medievals natural law participated in God and for Grotius it most certainly did not. In other words, for Grotius Natural law would be true if there were no God. I do not think St Thomas could imagine such a proposal.
     
  16. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Could some, but not all of the natural law be epistemologically accessible for fallen men?
     
  17. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    I'm trying to put my finger on what separates one natural law position from another. Perhaps I put my finger on the wrong spot since there aren't a lot of people voting. :lol:
     
  18. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    I'm voting #3...

    Unbelievers fight the knowledge, suppress it...and can't make sense of why they use it (selectively).

    It does not lead to a saving knowledge...
     
  19. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    I voted for #3 for right now.
     
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    We also need to make a distinction between "natural revelation" and "natural law."
     
  21. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, I voted 1, and then saw I was among the fewest voting for that option.

    Here's why: I view "natural law" as a sort of secular way of invoking God's law. RC's like that concept a lot, and don't like God's law.

    I like God's law, so I don't like "natural law."

    Doesn't mean I won't discuss it, or even rely on it, in some contexts.

    But I feel it's flawed, because only God's law is foundational law. :detective:
     
  22. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    common ground

    Van Til would say there is no neutral common ground. Paul appealed to the statues to the "unknown God," and said that God they did not know, he would tell them about. I.e., he adopted their presumed-neutral or even -hostile ground and made use of it for the kingdom. That is our model.

    :detective:
     
  23. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior

    On second thought...I was kind of viewing "natural law" as natural revelation...I think the poll's results are now innaccurate!

    I don't think I really even know what is meant by "natural law"...if it simply refers to the aspect that God's Law is clear in our hearts, then I'm sticking with #3...
     
  24. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    #3 depending on how we define our terms. I disdain the term "natural law"...There's nothing 'natural' about it. If we are voting #3 because of Romans 1 then we have to cry uncle and say that it is the law of God written on men's hearts. No God = No Law. But that is exactly the purpose of using natural law. I don't have a problem arguing from a natural law perspective just would rather push the necessity of God from an ethical transendental perspective and get on with using Scripture.:2cents:
     
  25. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    Natural law exists ontologically and is epistemologically accessible for fallen men. :)
     
  26. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Why?

    CT
     
  27. InevitablyReformed

    InevitablyReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Is the fact that unbelievers or self-proclaimed atheists instinctively KNOW that stealing, murder, etc. is wrong not prove #3? If we say no to this question, are we not admitting the logical conclusion of atheism--that our laws (derived from our morals) are merely conventions?
     
  28. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Possibly to delineate what is revealed through the heavens a.k.a. Psalm 19 and what is considered self-knowledge that Calvin talks about or the law written on the heart. One from without and one from within. But that blurs if one talks of the natural law as the physical laws that operate in the universe as well. Conjecturing....
     
  29. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Right. It's a good idea to figure out what people are talking about.

    For instance, Blackstone and other legal writers of the 17th and 18th centuries distinguished natural law from the "law of nature." Hardly anybody, except maybe Herb Titus, even mentions the distinction.

    For Blackstone:

    Law of Nature is the "express law of God."

    Natural Law is "only what, by the assistance of human reason, we imagine to be that law."

    As Dr. Scott Clark pointed out on a couple of threads, Calvin identified natural law with the decalogue or moral law: http://www.wscal.edu/clark/1998rsclexnat.pdf

    Which just goes to show that when modern people discuss natural law, they need to be careful in using older writers to make sure they aren't talking about something completely different.
     
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Natural revelation is God's witness to man apart from special revelation. Natural law is a set of inferences from natural revelation, which may or may not participate in God. The latter is not necessarily false, it is just different.
     
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