Thursday, October 27, 2011

on natural law

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them..."  (Romans 2:14-15 ESV)


Here are some excerpts from an interview with Jay Budziszewski on Natural Law...


Law has rightly been defined as an ordinance of reason, for the common good, made by the one who has care of the community, and promulgated. Consider the natural law against murder. It is not an arbitrary whim, but a rule that the mind can grasp as right. It serves not some special interest, but the universal good. Its author has care of the universe, for he (God) created it. And it is not a secret rule, for God has so arranged his creation that every rational being knows about it...
Our subject is called natural law because it is built into the design of human nature and woven into the fabric of the normal human mind. Another reason for calling it natural is that we rightly take it to be about what really is—a rule like the prohibition of murder reflects not a mere illusion or projection, but genuine knowledge. It expresses the actual moral character of a certain kind of act...
God has made some things known to all human beings; these are general revelation. He has also made additional things known to the community of faith; these are special revelation. Natural law is about general revelation, not special revelation. However, a Christian natural-law thinker will make use of special revelation to illuminate general revelation—and will use God-given reasoning powers to understand them both...
Natural law is moral reality. It affects the day-to-day routine of the average business executive the same way that it affects everyone else. Like others, then, business executives need to know that if they say “I am doing the best I can, but everything is shades of gray,” they are lying to themselves. Most of the time the right thing to do is quite plain. Like others, they also need to face up to the fact that some moral rules hold without exception. Figuring out a way to outwit or outrun the usual bad consequences does not make a basic wrong right...
A conceit of contemporary liberal thought is that we have no business raising our voices in the public square unless we abstract ourselves from our traditions, suspend judgment about whether there is a God, and adopt a posture of neutrality among competing ideas of what is good for human beings. This is a facade—a concealed authoritarianism. Neutralism is a method of ramming a particular moral judgment into law without having to go to the trouble of justifying it, all by pretending that it is not a moral judgment...  
I denied Christianity, denied God, denied even the distinction between good and evil. What happened to me was what the Gospel of John calls the conviction of sin. I began to experience horror about myself: Not a feeling of guilt or shame or inadequacy—just an overpowering true intuition that my condition was objectively evil. I could not have told why my condition was horrible; I only perceived that it was. It was as though a man were to notice one afternoon that the sky had always been blue, though for years he had considered it red. Augustine argued that although evil is real, it is derivative; the concept of a “pure” evil makes no sense, because the only way to get a bad thing is to take a good thing and ruin it. I had always considered this a neat piece of reasoning with a defective premise. Yes, granted the horrible, there had to exist a wonderful of which the horrible was the perversion—but I did not grant the horrible. Now all that had changed. I had to grant the horrible, because it was right behind my eyes. But as Augustine had perceived, if there was evil then there must also be good. In letting this thought through, my mental censors blundered. I began to realize, not only that my errors had been total, but that they had not been honest errors at all, merely self-deceptions. Anything might be true, even the claims of Jesus Christ, which I had rejected some ten or twelve years earlier. A period of intense reading and searching followed. I cannot recall a moment at which I began to believe, but there came a moment of realization that I had believed for some time, without noticing.

Full interview here

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