On What Foundation?

The world is confused and floundering. Nations are in anguish, self-deceived and deceiving. Morality fails. The last lights on the black west dim. We are on the brink of utter destruction.

And so, what is the solution?

Should we argue from natural law? Tempting. We could try to establish “common ground” by our own efforts.

I don’t reject such efforts. However, the global strategy must be Christ and Christ Crucified. Natural law will not save you if you can do it all. But you cannot do it all even if you know it all. And you cannot know it all unless you know Christ and his One True Church. Every other church and every other religion gets something about Natural Law wrong. I don’t think there is a single exception to this contention. And it is not an accident of history. Original sin has darkened the mind. What we are obliged to know we will not come to know adequately unless we come to Christ. Yet Christ has adequately born witness to himself and bestowed on his Only Church the adequate signs of her divine constitution. Hence, we must build on Christ or perish.

Incidentally, we hereby also avoid Pelagianism.



4 thoughts on “On What Foundation?

  1. True, though I think an appeal to the natural law can be especially helpful in getting people to at least attempt ridding themselves of vice and thus be less indisposed to further grace from God. Grace perfects nature, does it not? And since we have the grace of belonging to the only Church that gets the natural law right, we have the benefit of knowing the right answers even if we can’t personally deduce every ethical conclusion from first principles known by natural reason. Many people imagine that the moral restrictions imposed by religion are mere arbitrary rules and so are pointless. Even just introducing the concept of natural law dispels this myth and helps open minds to see that moral commands and prohibitions are not random divine decisions but are truly for one’s own good. Once one realizes this, he may be more apt to give serious consideration to whether the supernatural claims of the Catholic Church are worthy of belief.

    1. Agreed.

      There are serious dangers, however, to running with one’s heart set on natural law. Another post to follow.

      But one further point, positive law is not determined by the essence of the creature but by the free will of God. It is thus “arbitrary” in the sense it is chosen by God’s free judgment. God’s ultimate purpose in all freedom is always our good. Yet, we cannot point to anything innate in ourselves from which the law could be deduced.

      The same is true with traffic laws. “Safety” is certainly something we can deduce as intrinsically necessary. But drive on the “right side” or on the “left side” is not. The decision is arbitrary. Seven days or eight? Lamb or bison?

      There is another point: When I love someone, I seek to please him. By giving us commands of obedience (those not deducible by natural reason), God enables us to prove our love.

  2. Agreed that some things are left undetermined by the natural law and need an authority to determine them (e.g., traffic laws) and that obedience to commands that we can’t see the “why” of except that “God has commanded it” can show our love. But, as you know, it would be a serious mistake to think that every law is arbitrary and has no foundation in the nature of things. Even the “arbitrary” ones have a connection with the nature of things–they just aren’t completely determined thereby.

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