Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Protestants and Natural Law


My recent interaction with Paul VanderKlay regarding natural law motivated me to spend some time looking into the relationship of Protestant thinkers with natural law.  Of course, most people consider natural law as a Catholic concept…but such thoughts seem silly to me.  For anyone in the West, ALL intellectual concepts before the Reformation were, in some form or fashion, Catholic concepts – either originated by or integrated by people who were attached, strongly or loosely, with Rome.  To label these as Catholic does nothing to clarify.

I have addressed this issue before, when it was pointed out to me that one specific Protestant writer stated boldly that there is nothing in Scripture that affirms or points to natural law.  My response, using only Scripture, was playfully entitled Natural Law, Sola Scriptura.  In this post, I will examine the issue of the separation directly – it appears to be much broader than just one Protestant thinker here or there.

This will be a somewhat long post, and yet will only scratch the surface on this topic.

Martin Luther

After giving a description of the development of natural law, beginning in pre-Christian Greece and continuing through Aquinas, when coming to Martin Luther, Thomas D. Pearson offers:

But was Luther even aware of the Thomistic account of natural law? There have been doubts about the scope and depth of Luther's familiarity with the works of Aquinas.

I know from what I have read on the topic of Transubstantiation that Luther was arguing against Aquinas on this topic without understanding Aquinas very much at all.  Brett Salkeld writes, in his book Transubstantiation: Theology, History, and Christian Unity:

What [Luther and Calvin], and all the Reformers with them, rejected was not what Thomas had affirmed.

It would be reasonable to assume that this was just as true on the topic of natural law.  In any case, Pearson suggests:

Nonetheless, it was not Aquinas who immediately influenced Luther on this subject, but a movement whose point of departure was in important respects alien to that of the Thomists: nominalism.

A very short description: “In metaphysics, nominalism is a philosophical view which denies the existence of universals and abstract objects….”  The most influential medieval thinker on this topic was William of Ockham.  Returning to Pearson, after noting that traditional depictions of nominalism are distorted, he suggests…

…the critical emphasis of nominalism on the will of God, rather than on divine reason, as the essential theological datum about God's nature, has remained secure.

Hence, human reason cannot intuit the natural law that follows from God’s reason.  Therefore, it is only the Christian whose will is in alignment with God’s will who can discern the natural law.  This is clearly at odds with observation, as there are many who openly describe themselves as atheists or agnostics who yet are quite good at discerning the natural law; they may not label it “natural law,” but their views are quite consistent with natural law. 

Maybe this is the problem: anything an atheist develops inherently must not be from God.  If so, there is no valid thought on any subject anywhere in the world.  So, this is not worth taking seriously.

The natural law may be written on the human heart, but for the nominalist it is the Christian whose will moves in harmony with God's will who alone can appropriate what the natural law demands.

One might conclude that this still does not eliminate the concept of natural law as described by Aquinas, but Pearson isn’t finished:

The nominalist representation of natural law also diminishes the teleological element that is vital in the Thomist version.

By removing the idea of teleology – that everything in creation has a purpose, is made for an end – I am not sure how any concept of natural law can survive.

In the end, nominalism's rendition of natural law replaces reason with will, nature with commands, teleology with obedience.

Which perhaps explains Luther’s insistence of the unity of rule in the king or prince – this, and the fact that his protector saved him from an almost certain death at the hands of the Church.  Yet, will is a dangerous master when deployed by anyone other than a loving God.  Perhaps it was God’s will that the universe be created in a manner conducive to and operating according to reason; I am good with that notion.

…Luther does indeed directly mention natural law in a number of his writings, he does not employ any vestige of the traditional apparatus of classical natural law theory as it existed prior to the nominalist movement.

Hence, we find things like Luther’s strong reaction against peasant revolts – it does not accord with “natural law” (as Luther understood it) for anyone to revolt against the ruler – the ruler’s “will,” in other words.  From an earlier post on Luther and this peasant revolt in Swabia:

By May 1525, the peasant armies seemed unstoppable.  Luther would respond further: to murder a peasant in rebellion wasn’t really murder, therefore…

“…let everyone who can smite, slay and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel.  It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.” 

[The cite is taken from Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind, by Michael Massing.]

Pearson’s paper is very good and worth reading in its entirety for those interested, offering further details of Luther’s writing and contrasting this with Thomistic natural law – despite Luther referring to it as natural law.

John Calvin

Taken from Calvin’s Concept of Natural and Roman Law (PDF), by Irena Backus. 

Adapting the Stoic concept of prolepsis to Christian philosophical norms, [Calvin] demonstrates that God implanted in the consciences of pagan nations an understanding of right and wrong and of justice and injustice, sufficient to remove any excuse for sin.

What is prolepsis?

…the Stoic doctrine of preconception [prolepsis] is an innate disposition to form certain conceptions. The most frequently mentioned preconceptions are the concept of the good and the concept of God.

Returning to Backus:

…Calvin separates natural moral law from biblical precepts and makes it stand for innate knowledge of right and wrong.  It is this innate knowledge that enables nations who do not know the Bible to have legal systems.

So far, so good.  This seems not too distant from the idea that natural law is discoverable by man’s reason, making it available to believer and non-believer alike. 

Therefore by removing natural law in all its expressions from the purview of the church, Calvin automatically puts it in the purview of rulers and magistrates, in other words in chief civil legislators.

This, in my view, is problematic.  Backus continues (and forgive the length of this cite):

The other important difference, apart from the fact that neither Aquinas nor the glossa refer to the concept of prolepsis, is that Aquinas further defines natural moral law as participation of the law of God (lex aeterna) in every rational creature or the rational guidance of all creation. From this eternal law all creatures derive an inclination to those actions and ends that are proper to their natures. The term natural law applies specifically to the way in which rational creatures participate in the eternal law of God.  This is particularly important as it implies that to Aquinas the term natural law applies in its strict sense not to the natural tendencies and inclinations of man on which his reason reflects but to the precepts that his reason enunciates as a result of this reflection.  This metaphysical definition of natural law, which allows human reason a certain amount of autonomy in the moral realm, is absent from Calvin’s work.

I know that Calvin gets painted with a broad brush regarding total depravity, and, at least to my understanding, it doesn’t mean that which the worst caricatures of this idea portray it to mean.  But to the extent that everything about man is tainted by the fall, the last sentence would seem a reasonable conclusion from Calvin’s theology.  Yes, there is evil in each one of us.  But there is also good.  To allow this good to do its work, some autonomy is required.

Thus, despite similarities of terminology, Aquinas’ and Calvin’s concepts of natural law turn out not to have a great deal in common. Aquinas assigns to natural law an objective status of a set of precepts given by God that man can enunciate and apply to individual actions as a result of reflection.

There are other writers who touch on the natural law views of Luther and Calvin, commenting more favorably regarding a continuity from Aquinas to these two.  However, I find the above noted sources far more detailed.  Further, the pushback I have directly and indirectly encountered – along with the complete absence of this concept of natural law in any of my church experience in my many years of attending Reformed Protestant services – suggests to me that, whatever the truth is regarding this continuity (or not) from Aquinas to the Protestants, the teaching of natural law is absent in these Protestant circles.

And Others

By Stephen Grabill:

In his opening address at the first Christian Social Congress in 1891, the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper emphasized the catholicity of natural law in relation to Pope Leo XIII's new encyclical Rerum Novarum. “We must admit, to our shame,” said Kuyper, “that the Roman Catholics are far ahead of us in their study of the social problem. Indeed, very far ahead. The action of the Roman Catholics should spur us to show more dynamism. The encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII states the principles which are common to all Christians, and which we share with our Roman Catholic compatriots.”

At the heart of Rerum Novarum, and the recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est by Pope Benedict XVI, is an appeal to reason and human nature, but not in a way that denigrates faith or revealed truth. “From God's standpoint,” insists the pope, “faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly.” The Christian Church fulfills its responsibility to form consciences and to promote justice, when, as Pope Benedict insists, social teaching is argued “on the basis of reason and natural law.”

Alas, apparently few in the Reformed tradition would follow this lead:

In much of modern Protestant theology, there is skepticism about this appeal to reason. Protestants believe the bridge has been shattered and replaced with an ethic of divine command.

Grabill goes on to note that Protestants of all stripes, when regarding natural law, hold views ranging from blanket dismissal to hesitant acceptance.  But even those favorably disposed consider natural law “an uninvited intruder.”

From Carl E. Braaten:

Karl Barth is a central figure in the branch of modern Protestantism that rejects natural law. Barth held that Christian ethics has no use for an approach that concerns itself with universal principles inscribed in human nature and ascertainable by reason. Instead, he insisted, ethics is based directly on the command of the living God, which “is always an individual command for the conduct of this man, at this moment and in this situation; a prescription for this case of his; a prescription for the choice of a definite possibility of human intention, decision, and action.”

Leaving no defense against rulers who do not operate based directly on the command of whatever god rules them.


It is unfortunate that Luther so clearly suggested that monopoly authority rests in the king, even to the point of insisting that the peasants who revolted against the king could be slain without remorse.  It was (the faulty interpretation of) Romans 13 on steroids.  It is further unfortunate that law was tied to the king’s will, with the faulty assumption that the king’s will would reflect God’s will.

Once William of Ockham and his nominalism was introduced as the basis for natural law, any meaningful basis for natural law was lost.  Without a purpose, a telos, without universals, on what basis is an ethic to be determined? 

Jordan Peterson burst on the scene a few years ago.  Many like to separate the “political” Jordan Peterson from the “search for meaning” Jordan Peterson.  The two cannot be separated, as both “Petersons” are aiming at the need for natural law. 

The “political” Peterson was driven by the understanding that human beings are created with proper ends, and that political society was purposely destroying the possibility of achieving such ends; the “meaning crisis” Peterson understood that human beings had no healthy ends at which to aim, because political society was purposely destroying the possibility of achieving such ends.  It is the same issue. 

As I have previously written:

There has been plenty of discussion in the last few years about what has been labeled the meaning crisis in the West.  I find that resolving this meaning crisis and moving toward liberty are both addressable by the same thing (and only this one thing): how is one to live?  The answer is easy: according to man’s purpose.  A second question: how do I find meaning?  That answer is easy: by living according to man’s purpose.  What is man’s purpose?  Beatitudo: Love.

A lion in a zoo has plenty of food without the struggle of the hunt, access to free healthcare, and is protected in every physical way.  Is he living a meaningful life?  To ask the question is to answer it.  His life has meaning if he lives according to his purpose – and that purpose isn’t going to be found in a zoo.

This is why the search for meaning must incorporate the importance of a natural law ethic.  It is the ethic that conforms to man’s purpose, and a life lived according to man’s purpose is a life of meaning. 

Unless and until this entire “meaning crisis” discussion both overtly names and grapples with natural law, it will be a futile discussion.  Humanity, human liberty and human dignity will suffer for it.


  1. I guess most of your thoughts are in line with Frank van Dun's observation that the image of God changed with the Reformation. Instead of being able to participate in the knowledge of divine law, learning to distinguish between good and evil, truth and untruth, justice and injustice, what is beauty and what is ugly, people were considered unfit for these challenges and were expected to obey: sola scriptura. Obviously, once such a doctrinal interpretation is aligned with state power, freedoms will suffer.

    1. I have commented on his natural law in the past. See here:


    2. Thank you. I have read your blog post and the text by van Dun on which it comments. However, I'm trying to make a different point. The text by van Dun is a rather dry characterization of Natural Law. Much more interesting is his most recent text as given here: https://users.ugent.be/~frvandun/tekstmenu.html

      Unfortunately it's in Dutch. So, you cant read it. It draws however, to a large extend on a text from 2018: What did the Reformation reform?
      It's 50 pages long and he does not speak about natural law at all. He gives a history of Christianity over the centuries. I understand you probably don't want to download and read that. Therefore I will give you some quotes below to ignite your enthusiasm:

      Protestantism was a revolt not just against medieval
      Christendom but also against the entire philosophical tradition that had started around the year 500 BC in Ionia, Sicily and the southern regions of Italy. That tradition had taken off with the discovery that although it makes sense to think of each human being as having a body of its own, it makes no sense to think of it as having a mind of its own. Philosophy came to be defined as the search for things such as truth, logic, reason and justice, which people can have only as things shared in common, things
      which only the conscientiously thinking mind can perceive.

      Philosophical thinking is conscientious thinking, which is
      religious thinking. The English equivalent of the Latin word ‘religiosus’ is ‘conscientious’; of the Latin ‘religio’, it is ‘the study of that which brings, binds or holds all things together’. The traditional name for that which holds all things together is ‘God’. However, its meaning is ambiguous. On the one hand, the word ‘god’ (and its equivalents in other Indo-Germanic languages) means “that which shines”. It denotes the divine or shining
      things, e.g. beauty, light and enlightenment, understanding, wisdom, reason and goodness, justice and freedom. Thus, in religions of Reason and Goodness (e.g. medieval Catholicism), God is either the sum total of all divine things or that which gives man access to them. On the other hand, in Semitic languages, the word commonly translated as ‘god’ means “that which overpowers”. It denotes force. In religions of Force and Power (of which Islam and at least the early forms of Protestantism are clear examples), God is either superior force or that which gives man access to it. Obviously, it makes a difference whether one asks (prays) for power or for understanding. With its privatization and later nationalization of conscience, Protestantism cut short the millennia-old effort to understand God as the Logos, the principle of the intelligibility of the world. That effort had borne its first fruits in classical Greek philosophy.

      Underneath Luther's thundering about God's arbitrariness and man's depravity, the message was clear: “Do what you want, don't hold back — whatever you do is God's will. If you succeed, it's God's will; if you fail, that too is God's will.” It was a stern proclamation of the futility of human reasoning about good and evil, right and wrong.

      With its rejection of the Church and her role as the conscience of the medieval world, the Reformation de-legitimized the medieval idea of political rule, which had implied that the secular lords (from the emperor and the king down to lesser lords, dukes and counts) were essentially advisors and judges “under the law”
      and that they had no governing power over anything other than their own private households. Le roi règne mais ne gouverne pas.

      The cultural Renaissance, the adulation of the
      high culture of Roman and Greek Antiquity, morphed into a
      political Renaissance of the Ancient Roman lust for military conquest and empire. Slavery and the slave trade, which had virtually disappeared in medieval times, again became pillars of economic life.

    3. Thank you for the clarification. Did he not also give a talk at PFS a few years ago on this similar subject?

      In any case, yes, I am generally in alignment with this - it is also unfortunate that the Church was equally or even more responsible for this rupture compared to Luther and the Protestants (as it was the Institution of the Church that had the power to right things or not - and Luther and others had legitimate complaints).

      It was likely inevitable.

      Regarding the "all under the law" concept, a book I read many years ago was by Fritz Kern - it was really eye-opening for me, and did as much as anything to send me down this path.

      Thank you again for clarifying.

    4. Yes, he did give a talk about this at the PFS. In fact, the text is a more elaborate explanation of his position as he received many questions after his presentation. It surprises me how close the original Christians were to the ancient Greeks in their image of God. Despite the fact they had moved to a monotheistic faith.

      Anyway, it helped me to understand the philosophical underpinnings of western society a lot better.

    5. Saint Paul is very clear - that nature reveals The Creator. But, who is that Creator is revealed through the Scriptures. And the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ.
      Any other revelations you can point to, outside The Scriptures?

  2. I realize this may not be something you would post in your comments, but I send it to you for your use. For an example of a Protestant who understands Natural Law and its application through the Church into society. The latest sermon from Chuck Baldwin.


    1. I appreciate Chuck Baldwin, so no problem for me. He also linked to one of my recent posts at his site, so this is the least I can do in return!

  3. "the “meaning crisis” Peterson understood that human beings had no healthy ends at which to aim, because political society was purposely destroying the possibility of achieving such ends. "

    Yes, therein lies a significant problem. Further though, there is the reality that what a "meaningful life" represents is a subjective notion.

    Lately I've been thinking about the stoics for a variety of personal reasons.

    I find this portion of wikipedia dovetails nicely with the overall discussion:

    "Alongside Aristotelian ethics, the Stoic tradition forms one of the major founding approaches to virtue ethics.[1] The Stoics also held that certain destructive emotions resulted from errors of judgment, and they believed people should aim to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is "in accordance with nature". Because of this, the Stoics thought the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how a person behaved.[2] To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature."

  4. Thanks, again, for your thoughtful efforts to bring things (political/moral/philosophical) together. Leo Strauss in Natural Right and History states that before nature was discovered as a standard, pre-philosophical societies viewed the world as a place of customs: it is the habit of dogs to bark, the habit of stars to move in a certain way across the sky, the habit of peoples to have certain dietary restrictions, certain funeral rites. Custom, I believe, is close to the notion of what is willed, not discovered, what is purely conventional. Al Ghazali, among the medieval Moslem thinkers, against the Greek influenced Arab philosophers such as Avicenna, rejected nature as a concept and restored the pre- philosophical centrality of will as against reason. Ghazali states, for instance, that when rubbing branches together (for us striking a match) produces fire, the match does not cause the spark. It is rather due directly to the will of Allah. Unlike Aquinas, for Ghazali there are no secondary, natural causes, no (somewhat) independent realm of nature. There is only the irresistible will of the Almighty. This is, of cause, true of human beings also: no free will, no natural law participations of the rational creature with the Creator's governance of the cosmos: only direct submission to the divine command. I believe it might be of interest to note how Thomas Hobbes, writing, of course, after the Reformation, understands the nature of God (to the extent that such can be comprehended at all) to be identical to His irresistible power.

  5. This quote struck me. And explains a lot.

    "In the end, nominalism's rendition of natural law replaces reason with will, nature with commands, teleology with obedience."

    It captures what I view is the Protestant viewpoint, now with the name of nominalism. Now I still don't believe that reason unmoored from will ends up at natural law. But I think what reason does is gives a framework for expanding our understanding of life and the world outside what is written in Scripture.

  6. Not sure of the logical link between these 2 quotes:

    "…Calvin separates natural moral law from biblical precepts and makes it stand for innate knowledge of right and wrong. It is this innate knowledge that enables nations who do not know the Bible to have legal systems."

    "Therefore by removing natural law in all its expressions from the purview of the church, Calvin automatically puts it in the purview of rulers and magistrates, in other words in chief civil legislators."

    How did Calvin remove his version of natural law from the church and give it to political rulers? That is what I would like to understand. That point is where we can judge whether Calvin is right or wrong. My assumption is that he was wrong, but like to understand why.

    I do further get how total depravity can throw a monkey wrench into natural law theory. If man is a sinner how can he come up with something not tainted with sin? While I believe that there is sin in just about everything a human does, that doesn't mean that natural law can't point to the proper end of mankind, maybe incompletely or without 100% accuracy, but still better than rank debauchery.

    1. RMB, I struggled with this section of the author – your question maybe helped bring some clarity for me, or maybe I am still way off:

      “How did Calvin remove his version of natural law from the church and give it to political rulers?”

      Perhaps it must be so – if natural law is not based on Biblical precepts (as Calvin offered), then what institution will be the guardian, interpreter, and enforcer of the natural law? I think the choices are the church or a state – and the state is a horrendous tool to enforce moral laws, most of which are not violations that require physical force for defense or punishment. So maybe this is the issue, and also helps clarify why the church is a necessary institution in this case.

    2. To be frank, considering the state the Christian Church is in today, and was in the past, I wouldn't trust it as a permanent arbiter of morality any more than I do the State.

      In fact, no single human institution can be trusted with that role. Institutions change, decay, break up. Any worldview that aspires to timelessness must take that into account.

      Forgive the nitpicking - I get that you are likely using the words "church" and "state" in their broadest senses (the spiritual and worldly powers), but they're a bit too loaded for my comfort.

      There is *common law*, which is neither State nor Church but rather a heuristic that lends itself quite nicely to the discovery of natural law. Being decentralized and self-evolving, it comes with built-in tolerance for human fallibility.

    3. "...I wouldn't trust it as a permanent arbiter of morality any more than I do the State."

      I understand, and can raise no objection, given the preponderance of the evidence.

      "There is *common law*, which is neither State nor Church but rather a heuristic that lends itself quite nicely to the discovery of natural law. Being decentralized and self-evolving, it comes with built-in tolerance for human fallibility."

      It doesn't teach itself; it doesn't defend itself other than over the very long term (several generations) and after tens of millions of deaths; it will not be defended by atomized individuals, only institutions. Corrupt institutions will overrun atomized individuals every time. only an independent institution can stand in the way of a corrupt institution.

      The sad truth, given the reality of the failings of today's churches, is that no other institution has the charter to defend natural law or to be a check on state power (with an actual history of having done both). It will often fail, as men are fallen and imperfect beings.

      But what other institution is better designed to play such a role? I know of none (the next alternative would be universities, but without a belief and grounding in something transcendent, these have no foundation on which to mount a defense).

      Do you have an alternate institution in mind besides the church?

    4. I don't quite agree that a society requires a specific institution to enforce and perpetuate the tenets of common law. A number of institutions (in the sense of "coherent group with a lineage and specific purpose") would have to be involved, and their character would inevitably change over time.

      I'm not disputing that coherent, persistent groups are necessary (including groups with spiritual authority). I'd just like to have it clear in my head how a lasting libertarian society could deal with their inherently corruptible nature.

      I don't have a very strong answer to the problem, but I'm convinced that it would have to involve a willingness to recycle power structures way more often than we do today - implying a willingness by those in power to move over. How does one reconcile that with the boundlessness of will to power?

      I guess the church is as good a place to start as any. The church and academia are the only places I can think of where it is proper and expected that will to power be tempered by truth and wisdom, and academia is really an offshoot of the church and its search for truth - its transformation into a state priesthood was complete only a few decades after spirituality was done away with.

    5. All institutions corrupt, and I wish I had an answer for this as well....

  7. I do think that natural law in some way survived the Reformation. Maybe natural law theory was not en vogue like it was in the Catholic Middle Ages, but we see the same ideas existing in the forms of classical liberal government, traditional morality, and valuing family connections.

    Maybe it was just a gradual unraveling after Ockham's razor cut the ties between reason and natural law. But I think it is a little different than that. Any Christian who believes the man is made in God's image and thinks a bit about what that means essentially comes away believing in at least a kernel of natural law. How do we reflect God's character if not by utilizing reason to navigate life in the world? How can a Christian not believe in some kind of telos for mankind while reading all the passages about how to love, how to forgive, how to work, and how to build a family?

    But I do agree that logic has been denigrated within Protestant theology. Protestants don't have a problem applying logic to specific parts of their life like science or building a bridge. But I think "we" have been afraid to rely on logic too much because when misapplied it can lead away from the teachings of Scripture. I really like what the Pope Benedict said in your quote. This is great.

    " “faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly.” The Christian Church fulfills its responsibility to form consciences and to promote justice"

    1. "I do think that natural law in some way survived the Reformation."

      Certainly. Perhaps reaching its peak in civil government with the Declaration of Independence. The question is: once separated from the church, was it only inevitable ("gradual unraveling," as you put it) that it would fall into disrepair, if not disrepute? (Per my thoughts in reply to your post immediately above.)

      I agree with you: man made in God's image, is man made for a purpose - I know it is more complicated than two plus two equals four, but it isn't rocket science.

      As to Benedict, no wonder they "retired" him and replaced him with the current guy - who is 180 degrees on the wrong side of natural law.

      Your two comments have been helpful for me - assuming that I am moving any closer to making any sense on this!

  8. This Protestant (specifically, Reformed Baptist) acknowledges no true Judge, Lawgiver, or King, except for God Alone; no "law" contrary to His; no "divine right of kings" in Romans 13 or anyplace else (the scope of which becomes clearer if you read the whole chapter, or for that matter, Acts); and no "divine right of whomever can best manipulate the ignorant masses" (aka, demonocracy).

    I am the minority among those in my faith community, but, as Luther stated even if at times he did not fully live up to it, I can stand noplace other than on the Word of God, as best I can understand it.

    BTW, many of us in the Reformed communities would consider ourselves to be firmly in the Catholic tradition as the term "Catholic" is rightly defined, aka, universal; we view Rome as having deviated from the Faith once delivered to the Saints, while we strive, certainly not perfectly but to the very best of our ability, to stand with the Prophets and the Apostles and with Christ Himself, aided by the not infallible but quite useful works of the various church fathers, especially those early enough to not have been distracted by Caesaropapism or Mariolotry or various other notions that increased the outward popularity of the Church, but at the expense of Truth, something on which we Reformed try very hard not to compromise, since Jesus was and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    1. Thank you, Joe. I do my best, as do many of the commenters here, to say as little as possible about any theological or doctrinal differences between the traditions and denominations - trying to stay focused on what the history meant for our liberty.

      If I have written something contrary to this, I apologize. I personally find value in each tradition, on different aspects, of course.

  9. Natural law in my humble opinion is nothing more than fallible man's attempt at discerning God's revealed law. Considering the fallen nature of man, it shouldn't surprise us much that natural law is a dim reflection of revealed law and shouldn't be given the time of day. Natural law was pushed by the Roman Catholic church and in my opinion the globalists as a way to usher in an era of elevating human reasoning above God's revealed law. Natural law is a trojan horse to undermine revealed law. The king was warned by God to keep God's revealed word at his side and read it routinely so that the king would not break God's law. God never said that the king was a demigod wherein any decision he made was to be obeyed without question as if it was straight from God. God also never addresses the right of the people to rebel against and overturn an evil king. He never addresses it. I think God knew that any human institution was fallible because a man was in charge of it. God's focus was on being obedient to the laws of God, as that is the only thing we can control. To the extent that the natural law was able to figure out what God clearly spelled out for us, great natural law can be useful in reasoning with a non-Christian mind. However, natural law is like using a dull scalpel during surgery. Do you want your surgeon using a dull scalpel (natural law) or a sharp one (revealed law) when he is doing surgery on you? Natural law is pretty much garbage and shouldn't be given the time of day as it is based upon human's ability to discern God's will and in addition to that have a willingness to apply it. I don't think anyone would argue that human's have a very good track record at that right?

    1. Yoshle, start here:


      Tell me where I am wrong - where natural law is contrary to God's revealed law. Be specific, find Scripture that points to specific instances where my understanding is meaningfully flawed.

      Don't tell me natural law is fallible - that is true for everything and everyone because we are fallen; our understanding of God's law is also fallible, as we are fallen.