Friday, February 29, 2008

Natural Law Symposium Questions: Is the Natural Law Sufficient for States?

God has revealed His moral law to human beings in multiple ways. We call His express revelation through the Bible “special revelation” and His revelation through the divine light, cause and effect, the nature of human beings, and the order of creation “general revelation.” Is general revelation sufficient for running a state? Many Christian writers have suggested that it is not.

While the Bible makes God’s revelation to us far more clear and specifically describes the work of God in history through Jesus Christ, it still must be said that while the Bible is the most desirable source for knowing God’s will, that the natural law is sufficient for running a human state. Why? Because for millennia states have existed without the Bible. Hence, it must be possible to run a state without the Bible. While most states founded on ideas other than Christianity and Judaism have been oppressive and unjust in one way or another (but then even states run by Christians are often oppressive and unjust in one way or another), there still have been remarkable successful states that relied primarily upon general revelation. While both the Greek city-states and the Roman republic had severe problems, if one compares them to states throughout human history, it is apparent that the Roman republic and the government of city-states like Athens were actually fairly good governments despite their injustices and abuses. The structure of the Roman republic was probably a better government than the proposed government of the states of Europe under the E.U. The small village democracies of tiny villages throughout the world throughout history cannot be said to be inherently bad governments. They merely reflect the character of their own citizens. While such good governments are rare, they are undoubtedly possible. Calvin compared the light offered by general revelation to lightening strikes out on a plain. In some ways this is not a bad analogy. We see a few very bright spots in the general darkness showing that relative success through the application of general revelation is possible. Hence, it must be said to be truthful that while it is preferable for states to be based on the entire Christian worldview—which would require access to the Scripture—the general revelation is sufficient for the running of a state.

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