Are you perplexed about the biblical understanding of natural law? This study offers an explicitly biblical defense for the existence and practical importance of natural law. If natural law is taught in Scripture, it should certainly be affirmed in Christian theology.
Anyone who is familiar with the debate over natural law in Protestant theological ethics has likely heard it said: “The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura and the Roman Catholic teaching on natural law are fundamentally opposed.” According to the proponents of this view, natural law is a set of ethical imperatives drawn from human nature and known through reason and it differs thereby from any form of supernaturally revealed legal or moral instruction. While the opponents of natural law reference several lines of theological arguments to develop their case, perhaps the argument most frequently encountered in Protestant circles is that natural law makes God and Scripture irrelevant to moral knowledge. If that is the most common Protestant criticism of natural law, the second most common is that natural law turns a blind eye to the effects of sin on reason and human nature. When combined, these two criticisms constitute the standard Protestant objection to natural law.
David VanDrunen guides readers to a better understanding of a Protestant view of natural law, built on biblical principles, that stands strong despite these arguments.
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David VanDrunen is the Robert B. Strimple Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminister Seminary California. An ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a licensed attorney, he is the 2004 recipient of the Acton Institute’s Novak Award.