Who said this about natural law?
“By this thesis, to which the Reformation leaders virtually all gave assent, they denied the Reformation.”
A) Karl Barth
B) Cornelius Van Til
C) Herman Dooyeweerd
D) R.J. Rushdoony
E) Carl Henry
For more, check out Theodore G. Van Raalte’s essay, “Unleavened Morality? Herman Bavinck on Natural Law” in Five Studies in the Thought of Herman Bavinck, ed. John Bolt (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2011).
6 replies on “Natural Law and Denying the Reformation”
Well, not Barth and not Doyeweerd anyway.
It was not Barth or Dooyeweerd. But Barth did say this, in a not altogether unrelated context: “The Reformers did not perceive the extent to which even Augustine, to whom they were so fond of appealing, has to be regarded as a Roman Catholic theologian, and the reserve with which he has therefore to be taken.” And this: “If we really wish to maintain the Reformers’ position over against that of Roman Catholicism and Neo-Protestantism, we are not in a position to-day to repeat the statements of Luther and Calvin without at the same time making them more pointed than they themselves did.”
And Dooyeweerd wrote this: “Instead of reformation [the church fathers] sought accommodation; they sought to adapt pagan thought to divine revelation of the Word. This adaptation laid the basis for scholasticism, which up to the present impedes the development of a truly reformational direction in Christian life and thought.” And this: “The example of Augustine clearly demonstrates how even in a great father of the church the spiritual power of the Greek ground motive worked as a dangerous counterforce to the ground motive of revelation.”
Interesting. I presume you’re with the Reformers against Barth and Dooyeweerd on this. What do you think led Barth et al. to get it wrong?
There are a number of interrelated reasons for the 20th century rejection of “natural law” whole court by many Protestants. In Barth’s case it had to do particularly with the connection between National Socialist ideology, the identification of natural law with Roman Catholicism, the identification of both natural law and Roman Catholicism with scholasticism (another bad thing), and a general rejection of “Greek” or “worldly” ideologies into Christian theology. Stephen Grabill’s book Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics is excellent on these more proximate as well as more distant historical contexts between the Reformation and post-Reformation eras and the 19th and 20th centuries.
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