Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to natural law for a minute...

I've been doing some more reading in natural law, specifically J. Budziszewski's Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law (IVP, 1997), which is a helpful primer on the topic. Here's my question: because Protestants have tended to see human reason as being thoroughly distorted, defaced and degraded by the Fall, has that caused them/us to be less able than our Catholic brethren to engage with neighbors on issues of public policy and the common good? Doesn't the concept of a natural law--that there are things that we simply can't not know--serve as a helpful way of finding common ground with our neighbors on public issues?

5 comments:

John M. said...

Minute's up! :)

Brian Emmet said...

OK!

Joseph Holbrook said...

to respond to your question Brian, I do agree that (I think--if I understand your question properly) that the loss of an understanding of natural law creates difficulties with engaging public policy AND creates either an unecessarily pessimistic view of human nature OR removes some important philosophical barriers to becoming absorbed by modern Enlightenment thinking ....

there, my response was even more "fuzzy" that your question.

John M. said...

Perhaps the reformers went too far in postulating that the effects of the fall resulted in "total" depravity. It seems that if Adam and Eve did not retain some of God's image and likeness that they would never have been able to go on living, even for an abbreviated period of time.

It seems that all humans retain some of God's likeness and goodness, althought to varying degress, and certainly not enough that we can redeem ourselves. But enough to reflect Him in good works, charity, community service and creativity and productivity. If this were not the case, there would be no society, nor probably even a "human race" to be redeemed.

It seems that when the scripture speaks of "each person" being given a "measure of faith", that that includes all human beings. My belief is that everyone has enough faith to acknowledge God, believe in him and seek him, if they will.

I would go so far as to say that each human being has been given enough faith to recieve Jesus's sacrifice for sins and confess Him as Lord resulting in salvation, although I know that most Calvanists would disagree. No one can come to God except if the Holy Spirit draws him, but what does the Holy Spirit have to "draw" on, if we have no good or no image/likeness of God left in us? How does any unrepentent person ever do anything of any value, expcept by God's prevenient grace?

So, yes, Brian, I think that we all "naturally" have in us some knowledge of God and His law, some dim remaniscence that "it was not always like this" and that "there must be something else beyond this". That gives us something to connect with, reach out to, and find common ground with any other human being.

Joseph Holbrook said...

Brian: do you think you could give us a summary of J. Budziszewski's "Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law"? and do you recommend it for purchase and reading?