(image courtesy Clipart Library)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
How would you respond to this challenge?
Everyone on earth, in the civilized world, believes in the Natural Truth. A truth that is by its very nature accepted by everyone. The main reason for its acceptance is that it keeps the society in an orderly condition and avoids chaos.
I said in the civilized world because cannibals believe it is right to kill someone for their food; but they would still stop at killing each other for this purpose.
I believe some here, and I agree, are saying that today even the Natural Truth is being transgressed. Abortion, euthanasia are examples.
This person explained further:
I don’t know if I can say Christianity is the Truth because not everyone accepts it.
I CAN say that it is true. Why? Because no one else, Buddha, Krishna, etc. ever claimed to be God.
Also, there is the resurrection which I believe to be true because I trust the Apostles who said so.
Pilot asked Jesus “what is the truth”. Jesus did not reply because Pilot could not accept the truth, even though he was staring it in the face.
Pilot did not even accept the Natural Truth. Anyone who could crucify someone does not have the truth.
Whereas Jesus embodied the Truth. He was Natural Truth personified since HE wrote it!
1. Who invented the Natural Law perspective?
The view that Natural Laws are immutable (unchangeable) was an argument against miracles that was popularised in the 1670s by Jewish pantheist, Benedict Spinoza. As you may know, pantheism is the worldview that God is everything and everyone-everything is God.
Spinoza’s argument went like this:
- Miracles are violations of natural laws;
- Natural laws are immutable;
- It is impossible to violate immutable laws;
- So, miracles are impossible.
If we follow Spinoza’s philosophy/worldview, then natural laws cannot be overpowered and that puts an end to miracles.
The basic problem with Spinoza’s view of Natural Law is that it commits the begging the question fallacy or engages in circular reasoning. This fallacy includes the conclusion in its premises, directly or indirectly. It assumes the conclusion is true and places it in its presuppositions.
This is where Spinoza’s worldview needs to be exposed. His presupposition was that there is no theistic God who performs miracles because he was a pantheist and did not believe in the personal, theist Yahweh.
We know from the evidence of creation (whether one accepts it from Scripture or the Big Bang of science) that we have evidence of the greatest miracle of all in creation of the universe out of nothing. This example of the violation of Natural Law demonstrates that the Natural Law (miracle performed) is not immutable.
It has been put this way by Geisler & Turek:
We also know that natural laws are not immutable because they are descriptions of what happens, not prescriptions of what must happen. Natural laws don’t really cause anything, they only describe what regularly happens in nature. They describe the effects of the four known natural forces – gravitational, magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Once you introduce intelligent beings into the picture, natural forces can be over powered. We know that those forces can be overpowered because we do so ourselves every day.
For example, when a baseball player catches a falling baseball, he is overpowering the force of gravity. We do the same whenever we fly planes or blast off into space. In such cases, gravity is not changed, it is simply overpowered. If finite beings like us can overpower natural forces, then certainly the infinite Being who created those forces can do so (Geisler & Turek 2004:204).?
After making this post online, the person dealing with Natural Law responded and stated she ‘was speaking to moral law’.
2. God does not change his mind.
The difference between Natural Law and moral laws is that universal moral laws are based on the nature of God and he is immutable. These verses affirm the unchanging nature of God:
- Num 23:19 (NLT), ‘God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?’
- Mal 3:6 (NLT), ‘I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed’.
- James 1:17 (NLT), ‘Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow’.
So whether under God’s revelations in the OT or NT, God is declared to be one who by essence/nature never changes.
3. God is the standard of morality.
That standard is established in the moral laws contained in the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Because the moral laws are related to the nature and attributes of God, they cannot be changed. God can intervene in natural laws through instances such as miracles and providence, but he cannot change moral laws because they are based on his nature.
Thus, God’s moral laws are absolute and not relativistic.
My response to the person who clarified she was referring to the moral law was:
(image courtesy 123RF.com)
Since you were speaking about moral law and not Natural Law, it is important to note that the Natural Law is not based on God’s attributes/nature and so Natural Law is changeable. God can penetrate it with miracles. NASA can violate Natural Law with its space crafts.
However, God can’t defy his moral laws as they are based on his nature. Murder, adultery, theft, lying and covetousness are wrong (e.g. Ex 20 ESV) because they are based on God’s nature. The introduction to the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:1-2 (NLT) is: ‘Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery’. So God declares who he is, ‘the Lord your God’, before declaring the commandments for the Israelites to live by. God’s nature as the Lord God is what determines the content of his commands.
Yes, God can do anything (except sin) and is not limited, but that is based on God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Spinoza did not accept that view as a pantheist – even though he was a Jew and should have known better.
I agree that the moment we speak of God as a ‘person’ (as in the 3 persons of the Trinity), it is way too easy to presume we know the characteristics of a person, based on human understanding. However, the truth is that we need to allow God to define and describe his nature/person of himself. Here we search the Scriptures for accurate descriptions of God’s personhood.
4. God’s law written on the human heart.
There’s a revealing Scripture in Rom 2:12-15 (NLT):
12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
No people will get off scot-free before God, even if they have not heard the Gospel of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. This is because God has revealed in Scripture that God’s law is written in the hearts of all Gentiles and their consciences and thoughts will accuse them or confirm they are right before God.
The Natural Law is a philosophical concept invented by Spinoza. It is not unchangeable (immutable) and authoritarian (prescriptive). Instead, natural laws describe what happens and do not prescribe what must happen. Natural laws cannot cause anything; they described what actually happens in nature.
God’s moral law that commands ethical standards is based on the nature of God and examples include the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews depended on the OT Law for their standards while the Christian depends on the NT commands, Matt 5-7 being one example. Non-Jews (Gentiles) have the moral law of God in their hearts and their consciences or thoughts that condemn or clear them of guilt.
6. Works consulted
Geisler, N L & Turek, F 2004. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.
 Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? Wondering#191, 6 December. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/is-the-world-really-searching-for-truth.67081/page-10 (Accessed 10 December 2016).
 Ibid., Wondering#193.
 In ibid., OzSpen$256. I have received some helpful information on this view from Geisler & Turek (2004:203-204).
 Ibid., Wonder#258.
 ‘Providence, then, is the sovereign, divine superintendence of all things, guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God. This divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures’ (Bible Study Tools 2016. s v Providence of God).
 Christian Forums.net 2016. Is the world really searching for truth? OzSpen#259.
Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 September 2019.