Justice, Natural Law, and Biblical Law

I had a friend ask me last night at our church banquet, “what dragons are you slaying in your profession?”  There are several, that I at least hope that I am fighting, and I listed some.  Then, today, doing some research on Aristotle and natural law, I came across this by Rushdoony.  He writes:

In the West, law became secularized when the Hellenic concept of natural law was confused with God’s revealed law, and God’s creation law, i.e., the laws whereby God rules in creation.  For the Greeks, natural law is an abstract universal which is not a part of creation, the world of matter, but of the world of ideas, or reason, mind. Natural law thus becomes an expression of the mind of the rational elite, as in Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics.  History therefore best expresses nature, and the dialectical process of Hegel and Marx, as well as Dewey’s Great Community, becomes the concrete expressions of natural law.  The elite planners are thus voices of natural law and reason.

When Christendom confused God’s law with natural law, it made possible the abandonment of Biblical law for a humanistic, rationalistic idea of law.  In the new theology of law, therefore, it is the will of the people which is basic to the Rule of Law, not the word of God, or Biblical law.[1]

After describing a situation that demonstrates the limits of human reasoning and human-defined justice, he continues:

Deuteronomy 16:20 begins, literally, “Justice, only justice, shalt thou follow.” Life and prosperity on earth are dependent upon justice.  Justice does not follow man’s needs, but man follows justice.  Justice is God-centered, not man-centered.  Modern law is not in touch with reality, because it seeks to be man-centered and defines the Rule of Law in terms of man and the will of man.  Such a view of law is treason to God’s covenant and the suicide of man.

Again, it is made clear by Scripture that the practice of justice and righteousness is more important to the Lord than formal worship.  This does not mean that the practice of worship is decried, but, rather, that worship without justice and righteousness is not acceptable to the Lord.  Practically, this means that for Christians to be unconcerned about law is to manifest an unconcern about worship in any valid sense.  Their worship becomes then an empty rite.  It is not only the Christian School for children which is basic to Christian reconstruction but the law school as well.  Justice, only justice, must we follow, and it is not of man, but from the Lord and in His law, not man’s.[2]

And, that is what I am doing.  I am a minister of justice.  True justice—God’s justice, not man’s.  And, I am a part of a law school whose mission is to train lawyers to be ministers of God’s justice.  There are a lot of dragons we are trying to fight in this endeavor, and certainly a humanistic conception of natural law and justice is one of them.


[1] Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume Two: Law and Society, 519-20 (2001).

[2] Id. at 521 (emphasis added.)