Deuteronomy 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20
Here we have it explicitly said that God’s law is to be the standard by which all other standards are measured. We are responsible to God’s law. I should not have to say it, but the point here is not that we are saved by the law, or that we use God’s law as a ladder to climb into God’s presence or to curry His uncertain acceptance. The point here is that as Christians, who have been saved from the curse of the law’s demand that we could never meet and has been met for us in Christ, we should govern our lives consistent with God’s revealed law Word as found in Scripture or as arrived upon by good and necessary consequence as reasoning from God’s law.
This is the clear teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism;
Question 91: But what are good works?
Answer: Only those which proceed from a true faith,5 are performed according to the law of God,6 and to His glory;7 and not such as are founded on our imaginations or the institutions of men.8
Scripture and the catechism clearly point to the reality that we are to be governed in our daily lives by God’s law as revealed in Scripture. In the 21st century should Christians desire to know what it means to have the conversations of our life be pleasing to God then we need to have those lifestyles reflect walking in harmony with God’s law. This explains why the Psalmist delighted in God’s law both day and night.
However, another theory holds increasingly holds sway among platformed Christians, both of the R2K ilk, and of the Christian Nationalist ilk. That other theory is called Natural Law and it has a long and storied history. There is no use in denying that many throughout Christendom have appealed to Natural Law as a mechanism by which Christians should govern their life. This alternative theory to what we find commanded in Scripture finds Christians insisting that we are not to be governed by God’s explicit written law but rather we are to be governed in our living by a reading of Natural Law, which is a law written in God’s structured reality and stamped upon all men’s hearts. This Natural Law is to be the governing structure for fallen and redeemed men alike. As such what is posited is that fallen man can and will read Natural Law the same as men who are Redeemed and are now increasing, per their individual sanctification, epistemologically self-aware.
On the theory of Natural Law Christians and Non-Christians alike are to make a individual hunt for God’s law, by the usage of right reason interpreting this abstract Natural Law. Natural Law theory insists that men fallen and redeemed, can together use reason to arrive at truth that can then be crafted into public policy as social order guidelines for all people. Natural Law as mediated by the usage of right reason by all men — fallen and redeemed — is the foundation for all legal infrastructure in all jurisdictions (save the Church, which still uses the law found in Special Revelation) for the structuring of our living. In this theory God’s Special Revelation is not necessary for social order structure. Natural Law can do all.
The theory of the Natural Law aficionados is that while God’s revealed special revelation law was obviously the standard for the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, something happened with the coming of Christ, followed by His finished work, whereby that law became obsolete. That law, so the Natural Law experts insist was ended when Israel as a people ended, with the consequence that mankind had to repair to the Natural law model.
Now, we should interject here that God’s word clearly teaches that all the law that prefigured, announced, and shouted Christ in the OT (called “ceremonial Law”) was fulfilled in Christi and since that was fulfilled that expression of the Law was no longer requisite and so we as Christians, for example, no longer sacrifice animals. However, there is never a word in Scripture that what is now called the civil (or judicial) law given in the Old Testament became obsolete in the new and better covenant. Indeed, our Master Himself said;
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
So today, those who raise mint, anise, and cummin should be tithing on the increase of their mint, anise, and cummin.
The Westminster Confession faith affirms this when it offers in Article XIX,
To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other, now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
Anti-Natural lawists today insist that the phrase “general equity thereof” proves indisputably that the heart and stuffing of God’s civil (judicial) law remains applicable today.
That St. Paul thought the same as seen by his appeal to the law;
8Do I say this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: “ Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10Isn’t He actually speaking on our behalf?
Paul, as inspired by the Spirit of the living God is doing the very think that the Westminster divines wrote in Article XIX. St. Paul is taking the general equity of that passage and applying it today, communicating thus that God’s Special Revelation and not Natural Law remains the standard by which all standards are measured.
So, for the Natural Law fanboys Israel was a caterpillar surrounded by the jelly of Special Revelation but when the caterpillar emerged from its cocoon as a butterfly in post Cross New Testament mankind sloughed off the necessity of Special Revelation and the Butterfly is nourished not by the special Law jelly in the cocoon but is now nourished by Natural Law and right reason. The Special Revelation of the OT has passed and the new has come with Natural Law.
David Van Drunen of R2K invention notes of Natural Law,
“The moral order inscribed in the world and especially in human nature, an order that is known to all people through their natural faculties (especially reason and/or conscience) even apart from supernatural divine revelation that binds morally the whole human race. “
[2 I believe the last clause, “that binds morally…” is intended to describe the moral order = natural law, rather than its nearest antecedent (“supernatural divine revelation”). I think that to make this clear Van Drunen should have put a comma after “revelation.” Or, better, he should have put a period after “revelation,” then written “This moral order binds…”]
Dr. Stephen Wolfe in his book Christian Nationalism writes similarly on pages 244 & 245;
“Societies, need, in other words, an ordering of reason — reason expressed as civil law.”
“Law is an ordering of reason by an appropriate lawgiver for the good of the community.”
“The Natural Law is an ordering of reason, consisting of moral principles that are innate in rational creatures, given by God, who is the author of nature.”
For Van Drunen and Wolfe (each Natural Law fanboys who are not happy with one another) God only authors Special Revelation law for OT Israel but not for contemporary man. Instead God authors nature which in turn authors a law that fallen and redeemed man together, starting autonomously from themselves, quite without presupposing God, reasons to by an act of the human will (fallen or unfallen).
The autonomy of man in all this is seen in Dr. Wolfe saying,
“A Christian nationalist must have the strength of will to affirm what is true, even if it doesn’t feel good to him. This is the main reason why I emphasized the will throughout this book…. we have to retrain the mind by the strength of will.”
As implausible as it seems, Wolfe is arguing there, that fallen man, with his fallen mind, must read a fallen nature and then by strength of his fallen will act in an unfallen way. And remember, this is done quite independent of the Spirit of God. This completely obliterates the truth of Romans 8:7f
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.