Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 9

God as Governor

God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 9
Watching Now
God as Governor


A. Creative evolution


A. Moral law

1. The moral law predates Moses: it was given at creation

2. It is not the ceremonial law

3. The moral law is just, holy and good

4. Three uses of the law

5. Objective standard for moral judgment

B. Natural law

C. Budziszewski's description of natural law

1. The witness of deep conscience

2. The witness of design as such

3. The witness of our own design

4. The witness of natural consequences

D. Thomas Aquinas

E. Martin Luther King Jr.

F. John Wesley argued against slavery

  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins

Wesleyan Theology I


God as Governor

Lesson Transcript


Yes. So to finish up where we left off the last time, we've been considering the larger issue of creation and evolution, and I've listed three different views on that topic earlier. And so now I'm going to lift up the fourth and final view, and that is called creative evolution and the characteristics of this view. It agrees that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Again, in similarity to some other views, it argues that the days of creation, excuse me, are not literally 24 hours. It rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis chapter one. And two, it affirms a common descent of all species. And this view would also affirm that physical death existed prior to the fall of humanity. Because he would argue that the death that's talked about in Revelation is not physical death, but spiritual death, alienation and separation from God. Because Adam and Eve are told in the day that you shall eat of this tree, you shall die. They obviously continued onward physically, but they did die that day. They died spiritually in that they were alienated from God. So this view has a slightly different take on that issue. All this view maintains that random mutation, natural selection and genetic drift are insufficient to explain the evolution of all species. It is convinced by some of the reasoning from intelligent design that the mathematical probability problem remains unanswered and needs to be addressed. It very much needs to be addressed. Moreover, this view Creative evolution would take seriously the rise of consciousness as a problem for naturalistic evolution as it is currently being taught. And so consciousness has not been adequately explained by evolution that excludes intelligence or would exclude any any role for God.


The issue of consciousness and the rise of consciousness becomes a significant problem. C.S. Lewis earlier on and Alvin Plantinga more recently have raised this argument of what is called evolutionary argument against naturalism. Plantinga has developed this at length, as you might expect. And that is also something that has to be considered, because if evolution is argued in a way of philosophical naturalism, as it so often is, then the rightful conclusion that we could draw from that. According to Plantinga, as he develops, the evolutionary argument against naturalism is that we would have then no basis to trust our own rational thinking. And so that becomes very much problematic. And so you can see here that this fourth position, this fourth position is raising a number of issues that need to be addressed by scientists when they argue for a theory of evolution that would exclude intelligence, that would exclude God. And so we would also raise, under this view of creative evolution, also raise the question of that or the issue, I should say, rather, that science has also failed to explain and perhaps it will do so in the future. The transition from non-life to life, from non-life to live, from inorganic materials to living cells. It would seem for a full armed theory that that would be necessary, that would need to be done on the evolutionary theory that we're taught at the present presumes that a living cell or entity is already already in place. And the reason I raised that and I suppose, you know, this is like a fourth issue that needs to be addressed is that you think about the cell. I mean, entire books have been written about the cell, very large books about the cell. The cell contains an enormous amount of information.


It's incredible the amount of information, genetically speaking, that a cell contains. And you're going to have to explain how do we go from non-life to that? How do we get all that information in a single cell? So, again, I'm just raising issues as a theologian philosopher in terms of what I've heard scientists themselves say. I've raised a number of issues here under this heading of what we're calling creative evolution. And doing so in a dialogical manner. If you want to make the claims you've made, then, you know, addresses some of these very real issues and don't avoid these issues, but address them and be forthright about it. And so this last view is lifting up some difficulties, to be sure. And hopefully the conversation will continue between scientists on the one hand and theologians and philosophers on the other. I believe in the hope and promise of dialogical exchange, of critical reasoning, of of clarifying assumptions, presuppositions, looking at arguments, looking at dead ends, examining them. I think the church in her posture has nothing to fear from that kind of rich, engaging, engaging dialog. Okay, we've talked about God as creator. It's now time to talk about God as governor, God as governor. And so these are two large roles that God assumes. And the role of governor, of course, is going to take into account that distinction we made earlier. We talked about potential absolute to God has the absolute freedom to create or no. But once God does create, then we're now talking about potentia or janata. In other words, there is now a creation. And in some sense, it limits the divine freedom precisely because God has created. And so we make these distinctions. God is utterly free to create. But once God creates the most high is.


Notice the language here. Responsible for not responsible to God is responsible for the creation, but not responsible to the creation. And so potentia ordinateur in this context means that God has freely, freely taken on this limitation all, and it corresponds to a created order that comes into being by the Divine design. Another way to express this is to state that God has now taken on the role of governor, the role of governor. And interestingly enough, Wesley has a lot to say. John Wesley has a lot to say on the divine role of governance. Wesley writes, for example, that God reveals himself under a twofold character as creator and as governor. And these are no way inconsistent with each other, even though they represent very, very different roles. I'm quoting Wesley here Whenever therefore God acts as governor, as a reward or as a punisher. He no longer acts as mere sovereign by his own sole will and pleasure, but as an impartial judge, guided in all things by an invariable justice. And so Wesley is slowly introducing us into this role of God as both creator and governor. And then in His thoughts upon God's sovereignty, Wesley continues this discussion and states let then the two ideas of God, the Creator, the sovereign creator and God, the governor, the just governor, be always kept apart, for these are different. Wesley writes, Let us distinguish them from each other with utmost care. So shall we give God the full glory of his sovereign grace without impeaching his in viable justice? Okay. And so one of the ways that Wesley is going to fill out that God is a governor is that when God creates God establishes a created order, a created order that is embedded. It's embedded in the things that have been made.


There is an order that is established and is reflective of the divine will. Okay. We can get a sense of this when we look at some of the four key sermons that Wesley wrote in terms of what he's calling the moral law. And let me just take a moment so you understand what I have in mind here, what Wesley has in mind when we use the moral law. He's not talking about just any law in scripture. He's not talking about the ceremonial law, for example. He's not talking about the civil law of ancient Israel, for example. He's talking about that law, which is holy, just and good. That's what Paul that's how Paul referred to it in. ROMANS It is holy. Justin Good. The moral law. We would see an example of this in the Old Testament in terms of the Ten Commandments. We would see another example of this in the New Testament in terms of the Sermon on the Mount. Okay. So Wesley wrote a number of sermons on the law. One of the more important ones is entitled The Original Nature Properties and Uses of the Law. And listen to how Wesley is exploring law here. He says the moral law predates Moses. It predates Moses. It was given at creation. Here's this idea that God, when God creates, creates, brings into being a created order. At creation, God gave human beings a law. A perfect model of truth. God gave free, intelligent creatures the law engraved on their hearts. Human beings eventually rebelled against God. They were alienated from God. And so what does God do? God once again gives them the law. Now, on tablets of stone. But we could speak about the giving of the law even prior to that.


In other words, prior to the giving of the law at Sinai. In terms of your grace, which we've talked about earlier, that provision in grace is crystal logically based. It's prophylactically applied to that which is before it. And so after the fall of Adam and Eve, in the wake of that, they are given certain knowledge of the moral law. We talked about that yesterday in terms of conscience and certain knowledge of the moral law, which is operating as a kind of norm. Okay. And Wesley also argues after giving the law to a peculiar people, meaning the Jews at Sinai and the Hebrews at Sinai, I should say that after this God is made known in law through his spirit. Okay. And so the law that Wesley's talking about here in this important sermon, and we're going to see how he uses it in a number of ways. It is not the ceremonial law. It doesn't correspond to the mosaic dispensation. It is something more lofty than that. It is the royal law talked about in the New Testament. And it is that law that Paul talks about that is righteous, just and good. Now it is this law. Listen to the language of Wesley now. This language almost sounds platonic in its use. This law, this moral law, so understood, is an incorruptible picture of the high and holy one. So think of God. Think of the being of God. And moral law expresses the being of God, if you will, in the form of law as we are able to bear it. So there is this sense for Wesley that we could not look directly into the divine glory. So God clothes God's self, in a sense, in the form of law, so that people can approach God and develop wisdom, insight, etc..


So he talks about law that God gave human beings a law, a perfect model of truth. God gave free, intelligent creatures the law which was engraved on their hearts. And this law is made known by the Spirit. Now, this is an incorruptible picture of the high and holy one that inhabit the eternity. The law of God. Again, Wesley writes, Is divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form. The law of God is supreme, unchangeable reason. It is unalterable rectitude. The Law of God is a copy of the Divine Mind, a transcript of the Divine Nature. So we see here that the adjectives, the descriptors that Wesley is using to describe the law, that it is intimate, intimately related to the divine will and being. And that is Wesley's view. Because if we look into the law, we can the moral law, we can discern the will of God. Now, thirdly, in this sermon, Wesley writes, The moral law is wholly just in good. He's repeating Paul. There it is pure, it is chaste. It is spotless internally and essentially holy. Otherwise, it could not be the immediate offspring of God. And so it is just in that this law renders all their due and prescribes exactly what is right is the will of God the cause of of his law. That is a question that goes back to the ancients that was raised ancient Greek philosophers. And Wesley says the difficulty of that question only arises if we consider God's will as distinct from the being of God. And Wesley sees a very close association between the moral law and the being of God. It's sort of the beaming out of the glory of God, the glory of God expressed in the form of moral law.


And so the law depends on the nature and fitness of things. It must depend on God. It is the immutable rule of right and wrong. And it depends. On the nature and fitness of things. And so we had this rich sense in Wesley's understanding of the moral law that it is rooted in the created order as human beings are created, male and female, the very distinction of male and female represents an expression of the divine will, the divine will, and the divine purpose. And in every case, God wills. Because what is willed is is right. Now, there are number of uses of the law, the moral law that Wesley will lay out. And the first use of the moral law is to convince the world of sin. That's very similar to Calvin's theology. You know, if you read the institute's he has a moral political use in a theological use of the law, as well as Turkey's use of the law. You'll see all three uses in Calvin's Institutes with Luther. In his commentary on the Galatians 1535 edition. He'll have the political use and the theological use, although he doesn't specifically refer to the third use of the moral law, which is the prescriptive use guidance illumination. We look into the law for direction in living the Christian life. But here, Wesley, when he's talking about the use of law, is convincing the world of sin. He's very common with both Luther on the one hand and Calvin on the other, because they have this understanding of the moral law as well, that it can be used to convince the world of sin to show the need for Christ that we fall short of the glory of God. For Wesley, the second use of the law after the conviction is to bring the person to Christ to lead that person to Christ.


And both Lutheran Calvin have that understanding as well. On the third use of the law for Wesley, and this would be his kind of prescriptive use, the illuminating use of the law. The third use of the law is to keep us alive. In other words, that we look into the law, the moral law of God, we gain wisdom, we gain understanding in order that we might flourish and avoid the misery of sin, for example. And so. Four. Wesley Believers are not done with the law. They're not done with the law because it is still an unspeakable use, because it's an expression of the will of God. Now, here's going to be a difference between the Lutheran, between Luther and Westley. Because the principal function of the law, the moral law for Luther, is accusation. Lex Semper accused the Latin law always accuses. And so the point of the law for Luther is to accuse and drive that person to Christ. Okay. Once that happens, then Luther starts writing in the Galatians commentary, then let the law quietly withdraw. Having fulfilled its purpose there. But for Westley, the law sends us to Christ. And Luther would agree with that. But Wesley is going to argue something else now that Luther would not agree with. Christ is going to excuse me. Wesley is going to argue that Christ sends us back to the law not for justification, because we're already justified. But for illumination, because the Christian life has yet to be lived in the context of the world, the flesh and the devil. We need illumination. We need the prescriptive use of the law as an express will of God as guidance. We need to gain wisdom, wisdom for living. And so this is what Wesley means when he talks about a third use of the law as keeping us alive.


This is very similar to Calvin's third use of the law, the prescriptive use of the law. Now, Calvin in the institute says the prescriptive use of the law is the principal use of the law. So there's a little difference between Luther and Calvin, but Wesley resonates very clearly with Calvin here. Very much so in terms of his understanding of the uses of the moral law. And Wesley would argue this is the disagrees with the experience of every true believer who has come to Christ, these various uses, these three uses of the moral law. The more I look into the law, Wesley writes, the more I feel how far I come short of it. I cannot spare the law one moment, no more than I can spare Christ. And so love and the value and love and law for Wesley, you know, go, go hand in hand. Those are not contradictory because the law is in express will of God, a God of holy law. Keep close to the law. Wesley writes, If you want to keep close to Christ, keep close to the law. If you want to keep close to Christ now with the moral law, then as very much a part of serious Christian discipleship, we have an objective standard for moral judgment. We have an objective standard for moral judgment. And this law, this holy law of love, was given to Israel, and it was also given to the church and expresses a fitness of relations in the created order. Now, it's interesting in our culture today, especially in the West, in North America, we have experienced wave after wave of of moral relativism that that sort of thing. You know, Mortimer Adler, before he died, wrote an important book called Ten Philosophical Mistakes.


And in that book, he went back to Aristotle, interestingly enough, and the Naked Mickey and Ethics, and basically laid out how reason would show not only the necessity of moral law, but that, you know, moral law does have an objectivity to it that's not washed out in relativism. And the argument runs something like this. Listen to the argument. You ought to desire the things that you need. That's the basic premise, the first premise of the argument. You ought to desire the things that you need. So what would be an example of things we need? Well, we need food, We need clothing, we need shelter, we need health. We need a number of things. We could fill that out very clearly. Okay. Then the second premise of the argument and it's a very basic argument, but I think it's it's significant because of its simplicity. The second premise is you ought not to desire those things that prevent you from acquiring the things that you need. So let's say, for example, you want to desire heroin. Okay. Well, if you desire heroin and if you pursue that, it will prevent you from desiring the things that you need, such as health. And so here is a basis simply upon rational reflection and not washed out by relativism, that I can make a moral judgment, a moral statement, and say you ought not to do the heroin. Why? Because in doing the heroin, it will prevent you from acquiring the things that you need and you need health. And so all you have to assume here is that we're dealing with rational human beings who understand those things, those goods that they need and the approaches to them. And they ought not to desire those things that prevent them from what they actually need.


So there is a basis, even through reason and nechamkin ethics, to show the objectivity of of moral judgment. I'll say one other thing before I move on here. You have to understand that when you are in the moral realm, when you are making moral judgment, you are in a different realm than the realm of empirical facts. For example, okay, that the realm of morals and ethics, archeology, broadly speaking, concerns value. It concerns value, not facts and assessments of value and judgments in terms of value. And I've read lots in this area where sometimes these frameworks are confused. That is the framework of the establishment of facts and then the different domain when we're in the area of moral judgment that is concerned with values, the assessment of values and that and that sort of thing. And I just simply mention that as an aside. Okay. Human beings, by our very nature, are value grasping beings. We are always aiming at what we perceive to be good. We may be mistaken in that judgment, but we are always aiming at and desiring what we perceive to be good. And that's that's part and parcel of what it is to be a human being and to live in a human way. In other words, to participate in the moral realm where there are many values and the possible destruction of those values and the judgments that would relate to the successful acquiring of those things that we need. Now, this leads to a discussion, of course, of natural law. And so although Wesley does make a natural law argument specifically in one place, and I'll come to that later on, he doesn't often refer to the natural law. Instead, he'll refer to this moral law, which has which has been described, which, by the way, is for all people.


It's not just for Jews, it's not just for Christians. Moral law is for all people. And when we think of natural law, we're thinking of a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason, that can be discerned by reason that govern human conduct. And so natural law is a part of the very nature of things. And it corresponds to what Leslie was saying earlier in his sermon, the original nature of property and uses of law when he was talking about the fitness of relations that have been established in a created order. There is a sense where natural law is a reflection of human nature. In other words, to consider the. A human qua human, that which pertains to a human being as a human being. It therefore can form a basis for the preservation of human rights, human rights. And so we see here, theologically speaking, the natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order, a created order that has been established by God. It is a law that those outside the church and those outside of faith can understand. It is a law that Gentiles can comprehend. Indeed, the Apostle Paul writes on one occasion in Romans chapter two. Indeed, when Gentiles who do not have the law do by nature of things required by the law, they are a law unto themselves. Even though they do not have the law, they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts. Their conscience is also bearing witness and they are thought sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. So what's being suggested here and I'm going to go into this more deeply when I quote a Roman Catholic theologian in a moment.


But I just want you to get a sense here that the moral law and which can be expressed also in natural law is something, if we are wise, that we have to reckon with. I know in our contemporary setting, which has the moral realm, has been so politicized, people thinking that they will not suffer the consequences of their actions, that they can simply do what they want because it's ideologically correct or right or something else. The brain doesn't care at all about your thinking. The brain will do what the brain does as as a physiological substance, as a physiological thing. It doesn't care about your thinking about it. It doesn't care about right and wrong, good and evil. It is something you have to reckon with. And we mean natural law in that sense as well. That's a part of nature. You engage in certain activities, the brain will respond to that and the brain will alter and change as a result of that. And you have to deal with that whether you like it or not. Whatever your politics is, whatever you think about good and evil, God, it makes no difference. It's that kind of fact, city objectivity that you have to face. And so this lesson needs to be learned again. There's a wonderful little book out there by a physician. I believe she's a Ph.D. physician who at one point in her own life was addicted, multiple addicted to a number of different drugs, marijuana, I think cocaine and others. And she wrote a marvelous little book that came out about six months ago, which I read with an eye on Natural Law. And it's simply entitled Never Enough The Neuroscience. And I'm reading about your right in the neuroscience and experience of addiction.


And the author is Jewish, Judith Judith Grizzle. Gee risc l never enough the neuroscience and experiencing of addiction. And it's it's a wonderful little book. And why I think this book is so helpful is that this person who was cross addicted in a number of ways became a doctor, studied the physiology of the brain, studied brain science. And what the brain does when you put one in interfaces with various chemicals and how it changes and how adaptable the brain is. And then you know how you have to take that into account. You know, it's a wonderful thing how she's described the physiological basis of addiction, you know, not simply the psychological or social, etc.. It's a wonderful little book on showing the kind of objectivity and facts, facts today of what the body does in terms of various things. Okay. That brings me to Roman Catholic ethicist whose name is Buddhist Chayefsky. I think I'm going to put that up on the board. Because it's a hard name to pronounce in light of it's spelling itself. Yeah, right. B you d, z i s the irs z. E. W. Z w esky. I got it. But it's pronounced Buda Chayefsky, so. Oh, and he's written a number of books on natural law. And I've read I've read several of them with great enjoyment. And so when we talk about moral law as reflective of God as governor, and if we fill that out even further now, because now we're raising the conversation in terms of natural law, Buddhist Chayefsky's work is a good place to look because he's going to put flesh on the bones of what what natural law is, what it looks like and how you can identify it. And so he expresses natural law in four main ways, in four main ways.


And the first way he talks about the witness of deep conscience. The witness of deep conscience. Now, we've been talking about conscience already in this course. We've been talking about conscience in terms of prevention. Grace. We've been talking about conscience in terms of the moral law and the Holy Spirit accusing us, driving us to Christ. But we have to understand what he means here by deep conscience. And he uses that technical term, you know, in the moral dimension, what we call sin, Doris's sin, to reassess or deep conscience. What is this? It's the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. It is an interior witness to the foundational principles of moral law. And you know what moral law is by now? Surface conscience. To distinguish that surface conscience presents a greater possibilities for going wrong. It can be erased, it can be mistaken. It can vary from person to person. And so when he's using this language of deep conscience, he is not mistaking it for everybody's conscience because some people's consciences are faulty. They are not properly informed. Their consciences are allowing them to do things they ought not to do. But when you refer to deep conscience, he is going to suggest that even when the false conscience is in place, deep conscience, that voice will yet break through or yet break through. Now, of course, it can be ignored. It can be suppressed. It can be put aside. But there is this difference between deep conscience and surface conscience. And surface conscience can be mistaken. It can go awry. It can be erased, etc.. Deep conscience cannot be erased. It cannot be mistaken. And it is the same. He writes in every human being. It is the same in every human being because it is reflective of the will of God who has created us in the divine image.


And so it's going to have that kind of of commonality associated with it. The only way he does allow way the only way to tamper with deep conscience is through self-deception. Through self-deception, telling myself that I really know what I really that I really that I should be telling myself that I don't know what I really do know. I really do know. But I won't allow that knowledge to surface and to come up. And we were talking about that earlier. We were having a conversation along those lines earlier about those things. So deep conscience is the reason why a person who tells himself there is no right and wrong may shrink from committing murder. They tell themselves there's no right and wrong, But do they really believe that? No, they don't, because they shrink from committing murder. We in our society today, we hear good being called the evil. Evil being called good, and we hear consciences that are not rightly informed. I like to express it in a way that is similar to Buddhist Chayefsky, but a little bit different. It's coming out of my Wesleyan background, so to speak. I believe a God of love, a holy love, is so good and so merciful that when the conscience is not rightly formed, when it is distorted that the Holy Spirit can break through that to bring illumination to that person, to let them know they have departed from the way. Now that. Person can reject that knowledge, they can suppress it, they can do all sorts of things with it. But I do believe a God of Holy love will illuminate. And so that such that that person will, to use Buddha, Chayefsky's language, have deep conscience, break through the surface conscience to reveal that this is not the highway to heaven, this is not the path to happiness that you're going a much different path, a much different direction.


Okay, so that's the first description or characteristic that Buddha Chayefsky lists less in terms of natural law. He expresses it in four main ways. We've considered one. What's the second way? Well, the witness of design as such, this is interesting, especially since we just had our conversation as God is Creator and we've been talking about intelligent design and complexity and all of that. And this is what Buddha Chayefsky's writes under the second heading of the Witness of Design. As such, he writes, quote, Living things contain immense and irreducible complexity. He almost sounds like behavior that cannot be accounted for by the mechanisms that Darwin proposed. Okay, so here we have Buddhist Chayefsky's working in the moral realm, the moral dimension, working in terms of natural law, and he's talking of the witness of design. As such, he continues and writes Under this head, Darwinism doesn't explain why the universe is exquisitely fine tuned for the possibility of life such as us. Okay. The best explanation for a census of any veneta's You know, this sense of the divine is that we were designed by God to have it. In other words, to have that sense us, divinity us. The third way he explores natural law is the witness of our own design, the witness of our own design, Buddhist Chayefsky writes. And so here I'll quote him. Some of the most interesting features of our moral design show up not at the level of the individual, but at the level of the species. The four most striking are interdependence. Complementarity, spontaneous order, he writes, and subsidized subsidiarity. Not only do we depend upon each other, but we depend on each other in a particular way. Okay. And so he's talking about cooperation here. Interdependence, complementarity.


He also continues along these lines by writing, quote, Short of the divine provision for people called to celibacy, there is something missing in the man that must be provided by the woman and something missing in the woman that must be provided by the man. This is the most obvious in the physical dimension. Okay. And so he's writing and filling out what he means by complementarity in that respect. Okay. All right. And then the last one that Buddhist Chayefsky lifts up here is the witness of natural consequences. The witness of natural consequences, which are going to be what they are, regardless of what we think about them. And so Buddhist Chayefsky writes, quote, for breaking the foundational moral principles that we cannot not know. Listen to that language. That's the title of one of his books. What We cannot not know. Okay. One penalty is guilty knowledge because deep down, we can't help but know the truth. So he's suggesting here at this level that, you know, we lie to ourselves at times. And that's why accountability groups are so important for us because they keep us honest. We can lie to ourselves in a number of ways. Okay. But, Nat, the natural consequences that result from our actions should be light and illumination that can break through the lying to ourselves. And those who suppress their moral knowledge become stupider than they had intended. He writes. Then who? Who intends to become stupid? Those who refuse, the one in whose image they are made live as strangers to themselves. See? So he's seeing a connection between God and humanity. We see that the principle that God is not marked, whatever a person sows, that they shall also reap is woven into the fabric of our nature.


See, this is this, I think, is a very important truth and. And something that as rational beings, we need to take into account. In other words, in the living of our lives, whether inside or outside of the church, we should always be looking at the consequences of our actions always. And that's one of the basic insights here. And consequences are consequences regardless of what we think. Think about them. We can't politicize this. We can't play games with it and call good evil and evil good when it's not okay. We may think, you know, we can do things to our body in terms of things we participate in, you know, whether it be through drugs or alcohol, etc., etc., the consequences will be there. And we have to reckon with that. We have to deal with that, if you will. And so now the system of penalties, he cautions, is not perfectly efficient. In other words, we may see at times some people, you know, not suffering the consequences, at least right away of their behaviors. But in the long haul, consequences should be a good witness to us that are and should help us governor behavior. Okay. And so the roots of the notion of natural law lie in antiquity. In other words, the ancients, the ancient Greek philosophers, they thought about this as well. Aristotle taught that the moral order and human rights should be derived by reason. Now, this takes us to a question in terms of moral law and natural law, and it would be helpful to make a comparison between Thomas Aquinas on the one hand, in terms of his understanding of natural law, and then John Wesley, his understanding of moral and natural law and how this is a reflection on God as governor and how it also is a reflection on us as human beings who have been created in the image and likeness of God.


And so what I'm going to do now, I'm just going to put up on the whiteboard here a summary, very brief summary of the discussion on law in the Summer Theological of Aquinas. And at the apex here you would have what Aquinas calls eternal law and we would consider God up here, if you will, eternal law. And then coming out from that, we would have over here natural law, we have natural law. Okay? And then coming out in this direction and this would be a deduction, this would be the more general going to the more specific we would have here. Divine law, divine law here. We would be thinking of such things as Scripture, the scriptures. We would be thinking of things like also canon law, certainly for Aquinas, thinking in terms of canon law. And over here we could describe this right side of the chart, if you will, faith over here. In terms of natural law, we would see that expressed more, particularly in what is called positive law, positive law or sometimes referred to as human human law. So I write that over here, human law. And then, of course, the main attribute here is reason. Reason. Notice once again, when we are doing theology, we are drawing from the resources of faith and also and also reason. Now, let's just look at this chart for a moment. So we see what's happening on eternal law is an expression of who God is. It's God expressed in the form of law and eternal law. Here in this chart is the most general expression of and it is broken out, broken out in two ways. First, in terms of natural law. So natural law would be a particular ization of the eternal law, which is a reflection of God, the being of God just as divine law.


And here we're thinking of the Scriptures. We are thinking of the the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount of Divine Law. That, too, is a reflection of the eternal law, which is more general, which is a reflection of God. And this is expressed in terms of faith. This is expressed in terms of reason. Okay. Now, on this part over here, positive law should be a reflection of the natural law, which in turn is a reflection of the eternal law, the positive law of meaning, human law, the human law. That's on the books, so to speak, that governments actually enact. It should be in accordance with natural law. And one way we can express natural law is in terms of the human qua human. In other words, what pertains to a human being as a human being. So the human qua human. Okay. Now, watch. Watch what happens here. Watch what happens here. I'm going to illustrate this. I'm going to illustrate this, first of all, by appealing to Martin Luther King Jr in terms of how he made an appeal to natural law and what particular appeal he made, then I'm going to appeal to John Wesley to show how he, too, in a similar fashion in the 18th century, made a similar appeal to natural law in order to overcome injustice, in order to protect the human qua human. And so, for example, when Martin Luther King Jr was challenging the laws in the southern states, in Alabama, for example, he was arguing that the law was invalid, that the law that was on the books was invalid. Okay. So here we have a distinction between the legal and the moral. For some people, they have a great deal of difficulty with this because in their minds, if it's legal, it's settled.


That means it's moral. Well, maybe not so because the legal can at times be corrupted and represent the preferences and interests and biases and prejudices of a particular group. It's ensconced in the law and therefore, that positive law, that very human law needs to be challenged. And that's exactly what Martin Luther King Jr did. He challenged some of the laws that were on the books in the southern states because. Why? Because they didn't render to African-Americans precisely what belongs to them as human beings. In other words, it didn't render the human quite human. And so these positive laws were invalid because they were not a particular ization of the natural law. Okay. And. So they lost their validity. Okay. John Wesley makes a similar sort of argument against slavery. Against slavery. The evil of slavery. And so Wesley writes this treatise or thoughts upon slavery in 1774. And it's a natural law argument. It's a natural law argument. And so Wesley starts out by saying, oh, I would now inquire whether these things can be defended on the principles of even heathen honesty, whether they can be reconciled with any degree of either justice or mercy or the grand plea is and is thinking about the arguments that slave holders are going to make. The grand plea is they are authorized by law. They are authorized by law. Wesley's response to that? He obviously didn't confuse the legal with the moral because Wesley shoots back. But can law, human law change the nature of things? Can it turn darkness into light or evil into good? By no means. By no means. Wesley writes, Not withstanding 10,000 laws, right is right. Wrong is wrong still. Okay. And so we see here Wesley making a strong natural law argument against slavery.


He continues, quote, but waving for the present, all other considerations. I strike at the root of this complicated villainy. I absolutely deny all slave holding to be consistent with any degree of natural justice. The grand plea is they are authorized by law. Okay. But again, Wesley says human law, no law on the books cannot under undermine on moral law. And so Wesley then argues, May I speak with you plainly? Love constrains me. Love to you as well as to those you are concerned with. Now Wesley makes the appeal. Is there a God? You know there is. Is he a just God? Then there must be a state of retribution. A state where in that just God will reward every man according to his works. He shall have judgment without mercy. That showed no mercy. When you see the flowing eyes, the heaving breasts, the breasts, or the bleeding sides or tortured limbs, was you a stone or a brute? Did you look upon them with the eyes of a tiger? And today, if you will hear his voice, harden, not your heart. Wesley writes, Regard not money. Whatever you lose, lose, not your soul. Nothing can counter bail. That loss immediately Quit the horrid trade at all events. Be an honest man. Liberty is the right of every human creature. As soon as he breathes the vital air and no human law can deprive him of that right, which he deserves from the law of nature. Wesley writes, So here Wesley is criticizing the wretched institution of slavery. He is arguing that it is morally wrong, even though it is legally allowed. He's appealing to a greater law. A greater law, and that is a natural law. And it's interesting because in this treatise on slavery, Wesley is not specifically appealing to God in the Bible.


I mean, he's making the appeal simply to reason and to natural law. And I think he he's doing that to show, you know, the universality of this kind of argument, because it relates to the human to human, whether one is an atheist, a muslim or whatever. And so Wesley ends this with, you know, a very strong appeal Give liberty to whom liberty is due. That is to every child of man, to every partakers of human nature. There you see, you know, the full force of this natural law argument that men and women were being denied precisely what pertained to them as men and women created by a God of holy love. That the very human law was out of sync with the natural law. And that gives us a basis, a very objective basis to say what you have done is wrong. And it's not simply my opinion. It is a good and righteous moral judgment. Okay. Let's take some questions or comments that you might have in light of anything we've said. It's interesting to hear Wesley's arguments for slavery and also Martin Luther King Junior's arguments and to realize that they have weight because of the way that our society in the United States was founded, because it was founded based on principles that valued those things. Then to make those arguments had some weight that people considered, where in other societies, if you didn't have that same heritage or that same those same values. It seems like those arguments wouldn't carry as much weight to agree with that. I don't think I do. And here's why. Because I think this kind of argumentation will play out regardless of the culture. Because remember, now we're focusing on natural law. We're focusing on what pertains to a human being as a human being.


And so I don't think it is limited to a particular context, for example, North America or South America or Brazil, whatever. I think this issue speaks for all people, regardless where they live, regardless of what cultures they are participating in that because it pertains to the human, to human, the human as a human being. What do we owe each other as human beings? How then can I afford to myself think of slavery, for example again, How can I afford to myself? What I do not give to you as a fellow human being? How can I do that? What sort of justification could I offer for that? And I think Wesley and King in the 20th century showed that you can't offer a justification for that kind of moral evil because you are denying what pertains to a human being as a human being, and you are denying to others what you freely give to yourselves and what you enjoy yourselves. Yes. Yes. So just to clarify. Yes. Yes. So we all have a deep conscious, regardless of the Holy Spirit or does the Holy Spirit implant that in all of us? So I would say and that's Buddhist chef Scott, and I'm sort of filling out and I may be on a little shaky ground because I'm filling out someone else's thought. But my sense when I read Buddha Chayefsky here and he's talking about deep conscience, I think there is a connection with the Holy Spirit, with God, with that kind of illumination that comes from the Spirit of God. And that would be seen as the work of God. That deep conscience can come up and bubble up to the surface conscience where we're trying to play games with ourselves. We're trying to, on various ways, lie to ourselves, deceive ourselves, and God in God's goodness is not letting us get away with it without a witness. And that witness is the deep conscious itself, which I see as a reflection of the divine goodness. Yeah. Yeah.