Skip to main content

Mere Orthodoxy exists to create media for Christian renewal. Support this mission today.

Dr. Grabill Poses a Question - AU cont.

June 16th, 2010 | 1 min read

By Rebecca Elizabeth

If you’re a Protestant, here’s a question – do you agree with Natural Law and if so why?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the discussion, here is a bit of background. The idea of natural law is one that supposes there is a general moral revelation that is implanted within each human person. It is therefore “the kind of moral truth that is open, public, universal, and nonexclusive” says Dr. Stephen J. Grabill of the Action Institute. To put the discussion in Protestant terms, natural law doesn’t require special revelation (the Bible or the Holy Spirit) in order to be discovered or known. It is never contrary to special revelation, because it is itself still divine revelation, but doesn’t require the illuminating, regenerating work of the Spirit or the guidance of Scripture in order to be found. It is the moral consciousness that we possess as human beings, the implicit understanding that certain things are right and others are wrong according the “nature” of things.

Here’s the catch – especially if you’re Reformed – the Fall’s effect on the mind, will and emotions. Has the Fall so completely corrupted everything it means to be made in the image of God (rational capacity and volition particularly) that the human person no longer possesses the ability to arrive at the truth of moral judgments through reason alone? In his sinful state, a state that is in rebellion against God, can the person make true moral judgments about what is right and wrong? Or to say it another way, can we as Christians, who understand and receive special revelation, dialogue with unbelievers about moral questions from a common moral understanding (i.e. the Natural Law)? Does such an understanding exist?

These and many other exciting questions are the subject of numerous discussions here at Acton University. Thanks for keeping up with this and if you’re interested in answering the question (which is huge), you might start with St. Paul and Romans 1. Then let me know what you think.