09 December 2017

Stocking Stuffers Part 1

Taking a break from grading final exams and posting on James K.A. Smith's "Awaiting the King" to recommend two other books for your gift-giving consideration. Today it's a book that came off the presses less than a week ago.

The Davenant Institute is publishing a remarkable number of high-quality but very accessible books on theological topics. Davenant's mission includes retrieving the forgotten insights of the era of the Protestant Reformation. Today, beyond a few catch slogans most Protestant Christians know next to nothing about the riches of the insights of their theological forbears. And while the appeal of some of Davenant's books might be limited to nerds of a theological sort, "Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense" by David Haines and Andrew Fulford should appeal to anyone who want to know what natural law really is, whether Christians should take it seriously, and what good natural law might do us. Don't believe me? Consider philosopher J.P. Moreland's comments on the book.

First, the problem:
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see that the increasing secularization of Western culture has lead to ethical, theological and behavioral chaos and relativism. Christians must speak clearly and convincingly about the messy issues of our day, but they, especially Protestants, are ill-prepared to engage the world of ideas without citing the Bible. Among other things, this implies that Christians should be laboring for a theocracy, but this is not what is needed and the state must have some sort of guidance to carry out its mission of punishing wrongdoing in Romans 13 without the scriptures. The existence, nature and knowability of natural moral law is what meets these needs.
Next, at least part of the solution: 
Fulford and Haines have provided an outstanding work that must get a wide readership if Christians are to re-engage the public square thoughtfully and appropriately. They follow a carefully developed order of presentation in this book. Before giving what may be the best recent biblical defense of natural law theory, they rightly are concerned to make very clear exactly what natural law is. Refreshingly, they ground natural law in solid metaphysical treatments of God’s relation to the natural law and in the metaphysics of the creation within which natural law makes sense. This is followed by unpacking the claim that natural moral law is knowable by human beings. Given this treasure-trove of background, the biblical defense of natural moral law is clarified.  I am excited about this book!

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