Monday, July 29, 2013

Review of CTCR Natural Law Document

Here is Nathan Rinne's (rather critical) review of the recent CTCR document on Natural Law. This is a topic for our time, to be sure - both the CTCR's document and Mr. Rinne's critique are worth reading. The more work Lutherans do in the realm of Natural Law, the better prepared we will be to face what lies ahead for the Church.

I see this as the ideal purpose of the CTCR: tackle a big topic in a concise way to spur further discussion.



  1. Here's my response:

    Perhaps you can clarify something for me. It seems you believe that the CTCR document does not sufficiently address the truth that sin obscures, corrodes, or infects the natural knowledge of God and, as a subset of that knowledge, natural law.

    OK, that’s a fair criticism of the document.

    However, my impression of the document is that it is intended to re-present the historic Lutheran teaching on the natural knowledge of God, which has fallen by the wayside, not to revisit the commonly-held doctrine in our circles of the horrible effects of original and actual sin.

    Nevertheless, I would have to disagree with your assertion, “For Luther at least, it almost seems as if – sometimes at least – the ‘natural law’ cannot be imagined to exist apart from the presence of God’s word and believers in the world.”

    If natural law is God’s will impressed upon nature, and if God’s will is eternal, then natural law does not cease to exist so long as nature continues to exist.

    "The nature of men is so formed by the word of God that it is fruitful not only in the beginning of the creation, but as long as this nature of our bodies will exist... the earth not only commenced in the beginning to bring forth plants, but the fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order will exist." Ap XXIII:8

    "For where nature does not change, that ordinance also with which God has endowed nature does not change." Ap XXIII:9

    "A natural right is truly a divine right, because it is an ordinance divinely impressed upon nature." Ap XXIII:12

    Further, God’s creative Word is still active and present within His creation. If God were to withdraw His Word completely from His creation, His creation would no longer exist.

    Thus, it seems imprudent to suggest that Luther envisioned nature or creation as existing apart from God’s Law or His Word.

    Perhaps what you are attempting to suggest is that human sin is so corrosive, that human beings reject God, His Law, and His Word.

    With that I can agree.

    1. Please copy and paste yoru comment over at Mr. Rinne's blog - that's where the discussion of his critique is happening. I'll look forward to reading his response. I was thinking of replying to him along similar lines that you put forward here...but I knew somebody else would do it if I posted this at Gottesdienst :)


  2. I've done a follow-up post here:


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