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08.10.2018
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D.
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HOW DO HUMAN BEINGS KNOW THE MORAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG? An Excerpt from a course on Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah As noted at the close of the previous study, fundamentally Natural Law is a body of rules that govern moral conduct.  But that definition must be fleshed out, that is, expanded into actual human life and practice.  If it is natural, then it is not something externally acquired, but innately rises from within. Christian philosopher J. Budziszewski (Boo-jee-shef-skee)expands on this by noting:  "As a Christian I regard the natural-law tradition as the nearest approach to the truth about 'law written on the heart' which ethical and political philosophy have yet, by the grace of God, achieved.  I do not mean to be flippant in speaking of God's grace.  True, the law written on the heart is utterly inferior to the revealed truth of the gospel, for though it tells us what sin is, it tells us nothing of how to escape it.  Yet it too is a real gift of God, for we have to know the bad news before we can grasp the Good News." 1 The Apostle Paul further expands on the idea of an innate knowledge of morality when he writes to the church in Rome:   "For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law unto themselves in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus." (Romans 2:14-16). Dr. Adam Clarke in commenting on Romans 2:14, 15 expresses the natural understanding of what Paul so clearly communicated. "[They]Do, without this Divine revelation, through that light which God imparts to every man, the things contained in the law - act according to justice, mercy, temperance and truth, the practice of which the revealed law so powerfully enjoins; these are a law unto themselves - they are not accountable to any other law, and are not to be judged by any dispensation different from that under which they live. Rabbi Tanchum brings in the Supreme Being as saying: When I decreed anything against the Gentiles, to whom I have not given laws and statutes, and they know what I have decreed; immediately they repent; but the Israelites do not so. Tanchum, fol. 43. 2.  [Clarke continues] Verse 15 Which show the work of the law - In acting according to justice, mercy, temperance, and truth, they show that the great object of the law, which was to bring men from injustice, cruelty, intemperance, and falsity, is accomplished so far in them: their conscience also bearing witness - that faculty of the soul, where that Divine light dwells and works, shows them that they are right; and thus they have a comfortable testimony in their own souls of their own integrity: their thoughts, the mean while, accusing, or else excusing one another; or rather, their reasonings between one another accusing or answering for themselves. As if the apostle had said: - And this point, that they have a law and act according to it, is farther proved from their conduct in civil affairs; and from that correct sense which they have of natural justice in their debates, either in their courts of law, or in their treatises on morality. All these are ample proofs that God has not left them without light; and that, seeing they have such correct notions of right and wrong, they are accountable to God for their conduct in reference to these notions and principles." 2 Therefore, from sacred Scripture and secular history we have a body of understanding that has promoted, protected, and preserved universally acknowledged values that are accepted as being naturally understood.  That these are not naturally obeyed does nothing to diminish the innate awareness of their existence.  As Clarke noted above: "[S]eeing they have such correct notions of right and wrong, they are accountable to God for their conduct in reference to these notions and principles." 2 Next, we will answer the question, "What is the Noahide?" For a deeper study, you are encouraged to consider enrolling in our 3 credit-hour academic course "THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL RIGHTEOUSNESS:  Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah."  You can check out all of our regular academic programs by clicking this link:  PROGRAMS.Thank you for sharing time with me.  I hope this brief post will encourage you to want to learn more about the laws of universal righteousness, and the manner in which God has implanted the awareness of right and wrong within your own heart and mind.Dennis D. Frey, Th.D., 1.  Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, J. Budziszewski, ISBN-13: 9780830818914, IVP Academic, 1997, page 11. 2.  Adam Clarke (1760 - 1832), Romans, http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans.html
30.09.2018
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D.
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HOW DO HUMAN BEINGS KNOW THE MORAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG? An Excerpt from a course on Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah So How do human beings know the moral difference between right and wrong even if they have no knowledge of a written Word (remembering that for the first two and a half millennium of human history there was no codified written Word - Torah)?  The answer to that question takes us back to the Imago Dei (the image of God). The very idea of law whether natural, Noahic or Mosaic presupposes something of a sense of what is moral, and if such an idea is universal then an innate mechanism is required to comprehend such a sense.  That mechanism must be the image of God. If that image is innate it must also be self-revealing.  That is, the moal image of God in us must express itself in choice - moral choice.  Every time we make a moral choice the image of God it reveals itself.   That is why in all cultures of all times certain moral requisites have been universally and ubiquitously recognized and accepted.  Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, and so is lying, cheating, adultery, and other innately recognized moral fundamentals or what might be understood as things which are either righteous or unrighteous. This observable fact is often termed "Natural Law."  Natural law is a noun, and usually defined as: "a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct." 1 The first (most ancient reliable) codification of natural law is regarded to be what is known as "The Seven Laws of the Noahide," a term (and foundation for universal morality) hardly known by most Christians, rarely mentioned in ministerial courses of study at the Bible College or Seminary level, and yet is a body of knowledge that is the foundation for Torah (Mosaic Law) as we have it. The Noahide is the ancient standard for morality.  It has been said that: "The Seven Noahide Laws" are a sacred inheritance of all the children of Noah, one that every person on the face of the earth can use as the basis of his or her spiritual, moral and pragmatic life." 2 Fundamentally Natural Law is a body of rules that govern moral conduct.  But that definition must be fleshed out, that is, expanded into actual human life and practice.  If it is natural, then it is not something externally acquired, but innately rises from within.  It is in fact, a reflection if the image of a righteous God. In the next study we will take up the subject of Natural Law in a more comprehensive way. For a deeper study, you are encouraged to consider enrolling in our 3 credit-hour academic course "THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL RIGHTEOUSNESS:  Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah."  You can check out all of our regular academic programs by clicking this link:  PROGRAMS. Thank you for sharing time with me.  I hope this brief post will encourage you to want to learn more about the laws of universal righteousness, and the manner in which God has implanted the awareness of right and wrong within your own heart and mind. Dennis D. Frey, Th.D., 1.  https://www.google.com/search?q=natural+law&oq=natural+law&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.2119j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 2.  http://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/62221/jewish/Universal-Morality.htm
19.09.2018
Dennis D. Frey, Th.D.
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HOW DO HUMAN BEINGS KNOW THE MORAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG? An Excerpt from a course on Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah The question, "How do human beings know the moral difference between right and wrong?" must then be answered by first acknowledging the image of God in all of us whether we live righteously or unrighteously.  This is what the Apostle Paul so strongly affirmed in his epistle to the church at Rome. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is know about God is evident to them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood though that which has been made so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:17-20). To restate what was noted in the previous post - if we as human beings are a "shadow" of the spiritual image of God, we must be a shadow of His moral image.  That image, if created and not manufactured through experience, must be innate (inborn, native, natural, inherent, instinctive). That is what the Apostle Paul is saying.  He is also pointing out the opposite of informing, enlightening and maturing through teaching, practice and experience of that same image.  That is, stifling, repressing, warping, and eventually perverting it.   This is what he means when he adds "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks but became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:21, 22). The spiritual image of God in man may be nurtured, neglected or abused, but cannot be ignored.  It rises up to confront us with moral choices - and it does so every day.  This is why Paul concluded that "they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20b).   So How do human beings know the moral difference between right and wrong even if they have no knowledge of a written Word (remembering that for the first two and a half millennium of human history there was no codified written Word - Torah)?  The answer to that question takes us back to the Imago Dei (the image of God). What exactly is moral reflection of the image of God in man?  That is the question we will take up in our next post. For a deeper study, you are encouraged to consider enrolling in our 3 credit-hour academic course "THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL RIGHTEOUSNESS:  Natural Law, the Noahide, and the Torah."  You can check out all of our regular academic programs by clicking this link:  PROGRAMS.Thank you for sharing time with me.  I hope this brief post will encourage you to want to learn more about the laws of universal righteousness, and the manner in which God has implanted the awareness of right and wrong within your own heart and mind.Dennis D. Frey, Th.D.,
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