Thursday, August 18, 2011

VanDrunen on the Continuing Applicability of the Mosaic Civil Code

In his magnificent volume Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, David VanDrunen spends the fifth chapter of his book examining the view of men during the time of high orthodoxy like Turretin and Rutherford regarding the natural law and its relationship to the Mosaic civil law. One argument that VanDrunen spends a great deal of time substantiating is that the orthodox Reformed theologians saw the civil law as remaining in effect insofar as it conformed to the Natural Law. At one point, Turretin even says that (in VanDrunen's words) "equity is the mind of the law as well as the aim, rule, and end of all law." Then, in Turretin's words, "the law of nature (the fountain of all other laws, because it is the most equitable) is also the most majestic" (Institutes 2.137-138). I quote these words with an eye on our contemporary environment where, especially those who have been influenced by Van Til (and I count myself among them, to a degree) by and large tend to reject Natural Law.

In VanDrunen's conclusion in this section, he discusses how we ought to understand the reference to equity in WCF 19.4, which reads as follows:
To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
Here is the conclusion VanDrunen reaches:
In light of this evidence, I suggest that the most plausible reading of WCF 19.4 [with regard to its reference to equity] concurs with the general sentiments of the Reformed orthodox writers being studied in this chapter. The civil or judicial law of Moses has been abrogated in the coming of Christ, yet has continuing applicability insofar as it reflects the natural law. For Reformed orthodoxy, as for the Reformation and medieval traditions of the past, civil magistrates ought not to impose the Mosaic civil law as such upon contemporary societies. Yet at times they will implement Mosaic civil laws, not because they are Mosaic laws, but because they are particular applications of the natural law still appropriate under present circumstances. (p. 170-171)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Before posting please read our Comment Policy here.

Think hard about this: the world is watching!