Natural Law Rejects the Idea of Human Autonomy

 Many Reformers and Post-Reformation theologians talked about laws of nature – natural laws that God has fixed in creation and in humans.  John Calvin, William Ames, Francis Turretin, John Owen, the Westminster Confession, and others used the term “law(s) of nature” favorably and (mostly) in continuity with Christian theologians that preceded them.  In his most recent book, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, David VanDrunen expands upon this doctrine of natural law in an exegetical, redemptive historical, and Reformed systematic manner.  I’ve not read all of it, so I can’t yet comment on it.  However, I’ll share a quote that explains the book a bit.

“…This book offers a Reformed biblical theology of natural law.  It is genuinely an account of natural law, in organic continuity with broader Christian natural law traditions, including the famous medieval formulation of Thomas Aquinas.  Yet it is also a Reformed biblical theology of natural law, since I believe, in the spirit of the Reformation, that Christian doctrine and ethics must be reformed according to the word of God.  Thus I develop this account primarily through the exegesis of Scripture, as hermeneutically guided by classic Reformed covenant theology.  By grounding natural law in God’s covenants with all creation, this theology of natural law rejects the idea of human autonomy but instead interprets natural law in terms of humanity’s relationship to God and accountability before him.”

“By presenting natural law in connection with the series of covenants (plural) revealed through biblical history, rather than as an ahistorical reality, this account seeks to place natural law in the context of the whole story of Scripture, identifying both its universal relevance for the human race and its relation to God’s particular work of redemption as it culminates in the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.  By presenting natural law in connection with these biblical covenants, furthermore, this account utilizes a theological theme distinctly important in the Reformed tradition, and thus this account constitutes not simply a defense of natural law by a Protestant, but a Protestant exposition of natural law.  Through this biblical theology of natural law I hope both to provide all readers with a stimulating case that will advance broader discussions of this topic and to convince my fellow Reformed Christians of the importance of natural law for Christian faith and life” (p. 3).

David VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014).

rev shane lems
hammond, wi

2 thoughts on “Natural Law Rejects the Idea of Human Autonomy”

  1. God bless David. Looks like it’s Eerdmans again, not Zondervan. Thought that was awfully odd.


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