Laurence O’Donnell, the associate editor of The Bavinck Review and visiting lecturer at RTS Orlando, asks some pertinent questions regarding the revival of interest in natural law among Reformed theologians. Mr. O’Donnell writes:
- Can the Reformed tradition revitalize its natural law heritage without “revitalizing the entire classical metaphysical tradition”?
- Can the Reformed tradition continue to castigate, ignore, or otherwise downplay the other correlate of natural law besides the much-discussed duplex regnum—natural theology—and at the same time recover natural law theory?
- Would Reformed theologians—who would readily affirm a “radically different conception of nature from that of modern secularists”—also affirm that “that natural law theory requires . . . a classical metaphysical foundation”?
- Are Reformed theologians content to deduce an entire theory of natural law from scriptural proof texts such as Romans 2:14–15, or would they affirm the need “first to challenge the moderns’ understanding of nature itself” and second “that this is a Herculean project”?
- Supposing that the parties in the NAPARC discussions of natural law (whether proponents or opponents) affirm “that this is a Herculean project,” would they hold that this is a philosophical or a theological project? To use the older language: which science in the encyclopedia of the sciences would they task with tackling this project?
These are all important questions, and they demonstrate that natural law is not the kind of thing that can be conveniently and occasionally relied upon to answer certain pressing challenges. It must exist within a larger philosophical context.