Thinking about Natural Law today. Here’s a quote from Budziszewski’s, “Evangelicals in the Public Square” and some of my thoughts.
“According to Calvin, the law of God—as well as human statute law, when it is well modelled on the law of God—functions in three ways: (1) as a mirror, because by exhibiting God’s standard of righteousness, it makes fallen humans aware of their sins and imperfections; (2) as a curb, because it restrains the unregenerate through fear of penalties; and (3) as a teacher, because it instructs the regenerate in the requirements of sanctity. Surprisingly, Henry’s retrospective on The Uneasy Conscience makes plain mention of only the second use: “Even at its best, of course, statute law does not impart moral power, but rather compels obedience under the threat of penalty. He does follow this statement with an obscure hint of the third use: “But if law lacks moral force in public life it is not because regenerative powers cancel it. But because secularist society has lost sight of law’s revelatory foundation and heritage.” –J Budziszewski: Evangelicals in the Public Square
Later Budziszewski says that as a mirror, the law has two branches:
1. When God at last condemns man, man cannot claim ignorance of the standard by which they are judged.
2. The law prompts us to flee to God as refuge.
Now this is the Holy Spirit using even such things as the laws of the land to convict us of falling short. In other words, statute law can serve not as a means of salvation but as a preparation for it. That is, tell me, if you bomb a marathon, the more vividly you conceive of the law that it is wrong to murder, would you not the more sharply feel your sin?
Also, if sin is mis-relating between God and man, does this not work itself out in ethical imperatives? In other words, part of my mis-relating to God and man is ultimately not loving God and man. What does it mean for me to not love God and man? Faith without works is dead, right? I ultimately mis-relate to God when I don’t follow through on the ethical imperatives about loving God and my fellow human. For example, again, if I love God, I will not murder. I may even try to save a life. Why? Because I do it out of love for God and my fellow human being. If I don’t follow this imperative then I’ve mis-related to God.
Now, I can still believe in Universalism (of the Evangelical type via the likes of Thomas Talbott and Robin Parry and Eric Reitan) because whatever brought me to that point of deep mis-relation needs some surgery to remove or purge me of that which does not make me fit for Heaven.