Natural Law: Basic Principles, Objections, and Responses

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A basic summary from Greg Forster’s very helpful book, The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics (IVP, 2008):

Basic Principles of Natural-Law Thought

  1. Natural law is an eternal moral law revealed to all people through human nature.
  2. Natural law influences (but cannot save) even fallen and sinful humanity.
  3. Natural law is the proper basis of political authority.
  4. Natural law authorizes society to establish a government.
  5. Governments are themselves subject to the natural law.
  6. Each society’s laws should apply the natural law to that society’s particular circumstances.

Objections to Natural Law and Responses

Objection #1: The natural revelation of moral law is obstructed by our sinfulness.

Response: Natural knowledge of right and wrong is damaged by sin, but not eliminated.

Objection #2: Affirming the authority of natural law compromises the authority of the Bible.

Response: The Bible itself teaches the authority of the natural law.

Objection #3: Natural law is a law made by human nature rather than by God.

Response: Natural law is a law made by God and revealed through human nature.

To explore the concept of natural law in a bit more depth, here’s a helpful conversation Douglas Wilson had with J. Budziszewski (pronounced BOOjee SHEFski), author of Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law (InterVarsity, 1997), What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide (Spence, 2003), Natural Law for Lawyers (Blackstone Fellowship, 2006), The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction (Intercollegiate Studies Institute Press, 2009).

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