Advantage 2K

tennis ball in side lineSince this nugget was quoted in none of the responses to DGH’s response to the response to the response to the…, I thought it would be good fodder for a discussion here in the ‘house. From DVD’s Nth level response (I add my own emphasis, and I leave in place footnotes linked to the original article)…

I believe it is crucial to make a basic distinction between, on the one hand, natural law itself as an aspect of God’s objective natural revelation and, on the other hand, the subjective response to natural law on the part of sinful human beings. As objective revelation, natural law is sufficient for the purposes for which God gives it. The same is true for all divine revelation: whether special or natural, God’s revelation is sufficient for the purposes for which he gave it and insufficient for other purposes. One purpose of natural law, I think we’d all agree, is to hold all people accountable before God’s judgment for their violations of his moral law. This is explicit in Romans 1 and implicit in many other biblical texts, such as Amos 1. This means that the substance of the moral law is revealed in natural law; otherwise, many people could stand before God’s judgment and legitimately claim excuse for their sins. Therefore, natural law must objectively reveal sufficient moral knowledge for a human being to live a blameless life in the present world. But immediately one must add that, subjectively speaking, no sinner could possibly respond to this revelation blamelessly. Natural law reveals God’s perfect law but does not convey the ability to respond without sin. Fallen sinners distort the truths that they know through natural revelation, as Romans 1 also teaches. So in response to McIlhenny’s questions regarding an advantage for Christians: Christians do not have, objectively, an information-advantage with respect to the moral law; Scripture reveals the same substance of the moral law that natural law reveals.[4] But Christians may be said to have a moral advantage in that Scripture clarifies many aspects of natural revelation for our dull minds and in that Christians’ sanctified hearts should be less prone to distort natural revelation.[5]

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19 Responses to Advantage 2K

  1. Zrim says:

    Just a quibble: does Scripture so much clarify what is known in natural revelation, or does it only make more explicit? Is to be implicitly written on the human heart to be less clear? It could be more helpful to make the hinge implicit/explicit instead of clarity/non-clarity, since the latter tends to suggest something untoward about both of God’s books. After all, it’s perfectly clear from nature that stealing is wrong and the Bible doesn’t really clarify so much as make explicit.

  2. RubeRad says:

    Hmm. What if the source of the non-clarity was our own cataracty lens of suppressive introspection?

  3. Zrim says:

    But we’re just as myopic when we read the Bible. What clarifies the Bible?

  4. RubeRad says:

    The preached word and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

  5. Zrim says:

    “The Holy Spirit tells me that the Bible clearly teaches that justification is sola fide.”

    “He shows me quite clearly that sola fide is legal fiction.”

    Now what?

  6. Pooka says:


    That doesn’t make sense. Sola fide is already clear enough, is it not? Does the H.S. have to make this apparent, or can the unregenerate man come to this conclusion through reading Scripture.

    Also, is this moral law, this sola fide concept?

    Legal fiction? Explain, if you would. I’m not sure what you mean by this intriguing term. I mean, I get it, but don’t think I do in context with your comment.

  7. Zrim says:

    Pooka, it’s a reference to how Catholics respond to sola fide. They do not read the Bible and see it clearly, calling it a “legal fiction” we Prots make up. My point is that lots of people who claim Christian also read the Bible and appeal to the Holy Spirit for what it “clearly teaches.” And my larger point is that clarity is a problem inherent to sinners, not special revelation and in the same way not to natural revelation. So it seems a bit off kilter to say that special revelation clarifies natural revelation, because neither are unclear. Sinners are.

  8. Pooka says:

    Okay. That clears it up. I’m slow on the uptake with the cynic stuff. Maybe practice would help. I’ll go read Stellman’s blog some more.

  9. RubeRad says:

    “The Holy Spirit tells me that the Bible clearly teaches that justification is sola fide.” “He shows me quite clearly that sola fide is legal fiction.” Now what?

    OK, but put your 2K glasses back on and come back over here to the kingdom of natural/moral law. An easy one would be “It seems right to me that killing babies is ok, if enough people look the other way and the claimed justification sounds reasonable enough” “My bible tells me that killing babies is wrong”. Or perhaps “Since I’ve been reading the bible, I can see more clearly that your rationalizations are absurd”

    It gets harder though. “It seems right to me that we should nuke Iraq until the sand is all glass” “Well my bible tells me…”

  10. Zrim says:

    But my point is that whether in the civil or ecclesiastical realm none of it is very easy at all, which only reveals the depth of human sin in its inability to see what is clear. And while making appeals to the Word and Spirit are appropriate, the often Pollyanna way in which many make that appeal suggests a rather superficial grasp of human sin and how it factors significantly into human understanding.

  11. RubeRad says:

    Thus you disagree with DVD’s point that “Christians’ sanctified hearts should be less prone to distort natural revelation,” which is not surprising.

  12. Pooka says:

    I thought for a minute and here’s what I thought. The teaching from the church, assuming in this case that it’s accurate can produce two results. One is a sincere parroting of a truth, largely due to shallow theology on the part of teacher and/or believer. The other is informed, thorough belief of a truth based on more mature theology. Both are sincere and based on scriptural truth, right?

    But both lead, generally speaking, to rather different ends. The informed learner would tend less toward a warped view where the shallow lacks the substance needed to rule on problems and ideas.

    Results will vary, but where we go with moral law depends on depth of teaching, not just accuracy. You get fanatics from basic proclamations. You get rational citizens from those proclamations when they include the dressing and side dishes that complete the recipe.

    I can’t see any way to get 2K from the former and realistic 2K only with a serious, continual posit of the latter. I guess that should agree with DVD’s sanctified hearts, with emphasis on sanctified including something more than simply storing up nuggets and proclamations.

    The Spirit doesn’t just lead me, He leads me deeper.

  13. RubeRad says:

    You get fanatics from basic proclamations.

    Wait, you mean to tell me ‘shallow’ and ‘feverish’ are one and the same?!

  14. Zrim says:

    The theory makes sense, since the Spirit abides unlike it does in unbelievers. But so does sin yet cling like it does in unbelievers. So should believers be less prone to distort truth? Yes. Are they? Perhaps, but not in such a way that they have bragging rights. In other words, a healthy dose of humility should accompany this.

  15. Pooka says:

    Funny how that worked out.

  16. Pooka says:

    Absolutely. Huge humility.

  17. RubeRad says:

    Perhaps, but not in such a way that they have bragging rights. In other words, an healthy dose of humility should accompany this.

    I’m all for healthy doses of humility. A.k.a. proper administration of God’s Law, and repentance for how we fail to be the less sinful Christians that God wills us to be.

  18. Pooka says:

    Humility is integral to the whole mess anyway. Fanatic adherence to a bible truth probably precludes humility to a significant extent.

  19. Pooka says:

    Humility has to be involved in order to accept the details behind a truth and to be able to revise in favor of truth. That right there must be a huge aspect of the Spirit’s involvement.

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