Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense

By David Haines & Andrew Fulford

 

As Christians, we affirm that Scripture is our supreme guide to truth and righteousness. Some wish to go further and assert that it is our only guide. But how then can we account for the remarkable insight and moral integrity that many unbelievers seem to display? Indeed, how to account for the myriad ways in which believers themselves navigate the world based on knowledge and intuition not always derived from Scripture?

Enter the doctrine of natural law. Frequently misrepresented as an assertion of the autonomous power of human reason or as a uniquely Roman Catholic doctrine, natural law has actually been an integral part of orthodox Christian theology since the beginning, and is even clearly asserted in Scripture itself.

In this brief guide, David Haines and Andrew Fulford explain the philosophical foundations of natural law, clear up common misunderstandings about the term, and demonstrate the robust biblical basis for natural law reasoning.

 



“This is a Guide that has considerable depth, indeed two distinct dimensions. The reader is first guided to the philosophical roots of natural law thinking in ancient and scholastic philosophy; then secondly to the Biblical evidence for natural law. The result makes for a first-rate, thought-provoking introduction.”

— Paul Helm, Professor Emeritus, King’s College, London.

The Authors


David Haines (PhD in Philosophy, Université Laval) teaches Christian apologetics and philosophy for an number of Canadian seminaries, including VES, FTE-Acadia, and SEMBEQ. In 2012 he founded Association Axiome, in order to defend the historic Christian faith in the Francophone world, and in 2017 he founded the Christian Philosophy and Apologetics Center to provide university level courses in philosophy and apologetics to the Francophone world. His academic research focuses on Ancient and Medieval metaphysics, C.S. Lewis, Thomism, and natural theology. David and his wife live in Québec with their 4 children.

Andrew Fulford is a Ph.D candidate at McGill University, where he is researching the relationship of Richard Hooker’s thought to narratives of the emergence of secularity in the early modern period. He is the author of Jesus and Pacifism: An Exegetical and Historical Investigation (Davenant, 2016), and essays on John Calvin and Richard Hooker.

 Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION i
PART I: THE PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF NATURAL LAW

David Haines
1 INTRODUCTION, DISTINCTIONS AND DEFINITIONS 2
2 THE DIVINE FOUNDATION OF NATURAL LAW 11
3 THE METAPHYSICAL FOUNDATION OF NATURAL LAW 23
4 EPISTEMOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF NATURAL LAW 40
5 A SUMMARY CONCLUSION 46
PART II: AN EXEGETICAL CASE FOR NATURAL LAW

Andrew A. Fulford
 6 INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESES 50
7 THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES 52
8 EXTRACANONICAL JEWISH LITERATURE 69
9 THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES 81
10 CONCLUDING THOUGHTS 106
 11 BIBLIOGRAPHY 116

Praise For Natural Law

Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense could not have come at a better time. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see that the increasing secularization of Western culture has lead to ethical, theological and behavioral chaos and relativism. Christians must speak clearly and convincingly about the messy issues of our day, but they, especially Protestants, are ill-prepared to engage the world of ideas without citing the Bible. Among other things, this implies that Christians should be laboring for a theocracy, but this is not what is needed and the state must have some sort of guidance to carry out its mission of punishing wrongdoing in Romans 13 without the scriptures. The existence, nature and knowability of natural moral law is what meets these needs.
Fulford and Haines have provided an outstanding work that must get a wide readership if Christians are to re-engage the public square thoughtfully and appropriately. They follow a carefully developed order of presentation in this book. Before giving what may be the best recent biblical defense of natural law theory, they rightly are concerned to make very clear exactly what natural law is. Refreshingly, they ground natural law in solid metaphysical treatments of God’s relation to the natural law and in the metaphysics of the creation within which natural law makes sense. This is followed by unpacking the claim that natural moral law is knowable by human beings. Given this treasure-trove of background, the biblical defense of natural moral law is clarified.  I am excited about this book! And I thank God for Fulford and Haines who took great effort and much time to serve the church with this resource.”

—J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University


“This is a Guide that has considerable depth, indeed two distinct dimensions. The reader is first guided to the philosophical roots of natural law thinking in ancient and scholastic philosophy; then secondly to the Biblical evidence for natural law. The result makes for a first-rate, thought-provoking introduction.”

— Paul Helm, Professor Emeritus, King’s College, London.


“God’s general revelation has not only a cosmic, but also a moral dimension. This much should be uncontroversial among Christian theologians and philosophers. During the twentieth century, however, it was widely held that the Reformation had done away with this moral side of general revelation which we call natural law. Happily, during the last decade that misreading has been successfully corrected, and we are now moving from retrieval to contemporary reflection. Fulford and Haines join this revival of Protestant consideration of natural law with a solid philosophical and biblical introduction. The authors and the Davenant Institute deserve our deepest thanks for making these issues accessible to a wide readership in such a clear and thoughtful book.”

—Manfred Svensson, Professor of Philosophy, University of the Andes, co-editor, Aquinas Among the Protestants

Davenant Guides

Davenant Guides seek to offer short and accessible introductions to key issues of current debate in theology and ethics, drawing on a magisterial Protestant perspective and defending its contemporary relevance today.


About The Davenant Institute

The Davenant Institute supports the renewal of Christian wisdom for the contemporary church. It seeks to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build networks of friendship and collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. See more at www.davenantinstitute.org.