Biblical Principles‎ > ‎Law‎ > ‎

Man's vs God's Laws

Will we be ruled by God's laws or man's? That has been the issue throughout history that every generation has to deal with. The liberties we enjoy in America are a direct result of our Founders establishing our nation under God's laws (The Laws of Nature and Nature's God). They were aware of the history of tyranny when people were forced to live under the rule of men's laws that were unchecked by a higher law. Adolf Hitler is just one example of the tyrants that come to power when the laws of God are cast off by the people of any nation. The following video clip presents the issue clearly by the director of the Ten Commandments movie which starred Charlton Heston

Man's Law or God's Law

Man's laws lead to slavery and cruelty. This is because men will abuse the purpose of the law and try to change fallen human nature through the law. The end result will be coercion and murder in an effort to make people into the image that men want to see in other people. The following articles describe this dilemma.


Natural Lawvs Statutes and Judgments

Jul 26, 2011 by GaryDeMar 15 Comments

I received thefollowing from an advocate of Natural Law: “Natural Law is simply Biblical Lawwritten on the conscience of every man.” If this is true, then why did Godfind it necessary to give us revealed law? He goes on to say:

The Reprobate knowsthat murder, adultery, rape and theft are morally wrong because of God’s Lawwritten in their conscience. The proof for this is Romans Chapter 2. This iswhy the aforementioned crimes are punished in every civilized culture we knowof. Another proof that these acts are wrong would be to look at the sanctionsthat follow these acts. Cultures which do not punish these acts like someAfrican/Cannibalistic tribes around the world bear the proof of God’s Judgmentin their being. These races of savages are usually enslaved and conquered bycultures which practice Natural Law to a larger degree. Look at the Arabconquest and enslavement of Black Africans over the centuries as an example.

First he argues thatreprobates know that certain actions, like cannibalism, are wrong. This doesn’t seem to be the case since therewere and probably are today cultures that practiced cannibalism. They didn’tbelieve eating an enemy was wrong. In fact, some cannibals believed that eatingan enemy or drinking his blood enhanced one’s essence. What was powerful in theperson being eaten was transferred to the person doing the eating. To reallyconfuse things, he argues that cultures that do practice Natural Law alsopractice slavery. But I thought slavery was wrong. Natural Law tells us it’swrong. If this is true, then why would those who practice Natural Law enslavepeople?

A Natural Law theorynot tied to biblical law would have done nothing for slaves since there weremany Natural Law advocates who believed in slavery because of what theybelieved Natural Law taught.Enslavement was best for some people. This was Aristotle’s view, and it wasfollowed by a lot of New World explorers. He believed in the reasonableness and“natural order” for the institution of slavery because there are some peoplewho are “slaves by nature,” a phrase found in his Politics. Aristotle’s views, as a champion of reasonand Natural Law, were foundational for centuries, as was his distorted views oncosmology:

Of all the ideaschurned up during the early tumultuous years of American history, none had amore dramatic application than the attempts made to apply to the natives there theAristotelian doctrine of natural slavery: that one part of mankind is setaside by nature to be slaves in the service of masters born for a life ofvirtue free of manual labour.1

It’s true that thework of God’s law is written on the heart and that every person in the worldwill be held accountable to that work of the law “their conscience bearingwitness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom. 2:15). Butit’s another thing to say that the replica of revealed law in its many detailsis written on the heart and that it can be accessed like pages in a book.

I asked the aboveNatural Law advocate the following: “Using only Natural Law, show meobjectively and empirically that murder, adultery, rape, and theft are morallywrong.” He couldn’t. He needed biblical law to construct his Christianversion of Natural Law. It’s not that sin has destroyed every vestige of theimage of God in us. The conscience still operates, but this is a far cry fromthe comprehensive nature of God’s revealed law that God gave Israel as a lightto the nations (Deut.4:1–2, 5–8). If Natural Lawis satisfactory, then why bother with giving Israel “statutes and judgments”?Douglas Wilson makes an important distinction:

Daniel in Babylon andPaul in Rome both show that believers can function in a society guided bynatural revelation; this shows the legitimate authority of such realms is notthereby set aside. The authorities that exist are established by God whether ornot they know His proper name. The question is not whether this can happen,but whether Christians should be content with it. The civil realm can besub-Christian and remain a true civil realm. But should Christians work to keepit sub-Christian? Certainly the Bible does not require this of us. And if webase our civil involvement on natural revelation only, where does naturalrevelation teach or require pluralism?

Henry Van Til wrotethat “Man does not need special revelation for acquiring the arts ofagriculture or of war, the techniques of science and art; these things arelearned from nature through the inspiration of the Spirit.”2 No one is disputing the use of generalrevelation in this way. But even this type of investigation has numerousethical implications. For example, knowledge of what works in the field ofmedicine still leaves doctors and legislators with, for example, decisions thatrelate to abortion and euthanasia. An abortionist can be an expert in the wayhe performs an abortion. He has honed this “skill” through scientific study ofthe created order (general revelation). But is it right and just to use thisknowledge in the destruction of preborn babies? That’s the question. Dosuch ethical principles exist solely by a study of nature?

The late Dr. JackKevorkian (1928–2011) designed a “suicide machine” that is efficient,effective, and painless, three criteria to consider in the practice of modernmedicine.3 But is it right and just? Procedures that weredesigned as part of the healing craft are now being used to destroy life. Thereis no doubt that abortionists and the new suicide “doctors” are skilledpractitioners of their respective crafts. So were some of Hitler’s doctors. Inthe Foreword to By Trust Betrayed, former Sen. Bob Dole writes:

Perhaps the ugliestaspects of Aktion-4 [a systematic program of killing people with disabilities] were its moral pretensions, its disregardfor the intrinsic worth of people with disabilities, and the essentialcomplicity of physicians and lawyers. The killings were justified by phraseslike “final medical assistance” and beliefs about “natural selection,” but itwas nothing but murder of some of the most vulnerable.4

The study of generalrevelation might lead some medical practitioners to conclude that since animalsoften abandon and kill their young, therefore human beings are little different if they do the same. Amore highly evolved species like man can do it more efficiently. The greatHollywood moralist of our day, Scarlett Johansson had some thoughts to share onthe subject. Here’s how Nancy Pearcey describes it:

What are theimplications of seeing humans as “just another primate”? Even Hollywoodactresses know the answer to that question. In an interview, ScarlettJohansson was once asked to respond to rumors that she had a reputation forbeing sexually promiscuous. Her reply was unfiltered naturalism: “Humansare merely biological organisms therefore the practice of monogamy – beingsexually faithful to one person – is just not natural. “I do think on somebasic level, we are animals,” Johansson said, “and by instinct we kind of breedaccordingly.” (Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assaulton Mind, Morals and Meaning (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010), 145.)),

The modern-dayevolutionary hypothesis rests on a study of the created order. Modernscientists have made a thorough study of the created order and have concludedthat man has evolved from some type of primordial chaos. Such a view conflictswith the Bible’s clear statement that “In the beginning God created the heavensand the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Such aconclusion has numerous ethical implications that if carried out consistentlycan have disastrous results as the mass killings in Norwaydemonstrate.5

It is this independent study of what we call “general revelation”that leads to anti-Christian conclusions. The Christian views general revelation “through the medium ofa heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit. . . . The Christian looks at all thathe receives through general revelation, in the light of the Scripture. It isonly through the Scripture that he can see the true relationship between Godand creation, and that he can see in creation its unity and purpose.” Onthe other hand, “the knowledge which the natural man receives from generalrevelation comes to him through the subjective medium of an unregenerated,depraved heart.”6 General revelation without the guidance ofspecial revelation has no reference point.

A classic example ofthe claim that knowledge of God and His will is gained from general revelationis found in the ideology of Nazi Germany. Hitler’s National Socialistpropagandists appealed to the revelation of God in reason, conscience, and theorders of Creation as justification for the Nazi state theology or culturalreligion. Biblical revelation in Old and New Testaments was regarded by theThird Reich as a ‘Jewish swindle” and thus was set aside in favor of the Nazinatural theology. The Gottingen theologians Friedrich Gogarten and EmanuelHirsch, by postulating the primacy of conscience and the flow of history as thechief modalities of revelation, provided theoretical justification for the Naziideology, which later wreaked havoc in Europe and beyond. A majority withinthe state church (known as the “German Christians”) unwittingly or otherwiseembraced the new national religion, founded not on the Word of God but on the divinewill allegedly embedded in the natural order. Emerging from this fatalexchange came a semi-Christian natural religion (some would say a new paganism)in which the church became a servile instrument of Nazi policy.7

The debate is not overhow much one side depreciates the use of general revelation. Rather, the issueis over what ethical standard will be used to evaluate theconclusions formulated from a study of general revelation and Natural LawNatural Law takes on a life of its own as anation steadily depreciates God’s specially revealed Word as the norm for allissues relating to faith (redemption) and practice (ethics). This situationresults in using contemporary ideologies to build an interpretive framework sothat general revelation can become specific. This means that Natural Lawwill be interpreted in different ways depending on what ideology is in vogue.A prevailing atheistic regime will interpret Natural Law one way, while a NewAge humanist will put another slant on it. In each case, the church’sprophetic ministry is depreciated.

Print Friendly

1.  Lewis Hanke, Aristotle andthe American Indians (London:Hollis & Carter, 1959), 12–13. [↩]

2.  Henry R. Van Til, TheCalvinistic Concept of Culture (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), 162. [↩]

3.  Jack Kevorkian, Prescription:Medicine: The Goodness of Planned Death (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1991). [↩]

4.  Bob Dole, “Foreword,”in Hugh Gregory Gallagher, By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians, and theLicense to Kill in the Third Reich (Arlington, VA: Vanadmere Press, 1995), ix. [↩]

5.  Henry M. Morris, The Long WarAgainst God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990). [↩]

6.  William Masselink, GeneralRevelation and Common Grace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), 71. [↩]

7.  Bruce A. Demarest, GeneralRevelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academie, 1982), 15.[↩]