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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hugo Grotius, and His View of Divine Law

Christian Philosopher Hugo Grotius, wrote during the Thirty Years War of the 17th Century, was of the same accord as the Founding Fathers, who, understood correctly, God, in the Scriptures, allowed, and approved of righteous warfare. Grotius, along with other influential Christian Philosophers: Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu, William Blackstone, John Locke, Samuel de Puffendorf, and Richard Hooker, affirmed Divine Law in the Scriptures was The Law and The Gospel. These men influenced the Founding Fathers in interpreting righteous rebellion commanded by God in the Scriptures and Romans 13. Grotius understood the Divine Law included The Ten Commandments, parts of The Law of Moses, and The Gospel:

"That some Sort of private War may be lawfully waged, as far as respects the Law of Nature, I think has been fully proved by what I have said above, where it was shewn, that it is not repugnant to the Law of Nature, for any one to repel Injuries by Force...What we said before, that even since Tribunals of Justice were erected, every private War is not repugnant to the Law of Nature, may be gathered from the Law given to the Jews,Ex. xxii. 2. where GOD thus speaks by Moses, If a Thief be found breaking up, (that is, by Night) and be smitten, that he dies, there shall no Blood be shed for him; but if the Sun be risen upon him, there shall be Blood shed for him. For this Law so accurately distinguishing the Cases, seems not only to import an Impunity; but also to explain the Law of Nature; and that it is not founded on any particular Divine Command, but on common Equity; whence we see that other Nations have followed the same Principle. That of the Twelve Tables is well known, which was undoubtedly taken from the old Attick Law; If a Thief commit a Robbery in the Night, and if a Man kill him, he is killed lawfully. So is he reputed innocent by the Laws of all known Nations, who by Arms defends himself against him that assaults his Life; which so manifest a Consent is a plain Testimony, that there is nothing in it contrary to the Law of Nature. There is more Difficulty concerning the Divine positive Law, more perfect than the Law of Nature, I mean the Gospel." [Bold Face Mine]

-CHAPTER III: The Division of War into Publick and Private. An Explication of the supreme Power. - Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace (2005 ed.) vol. 1 (Book I) [1625]

Grotius, along with the other above mentioned five philosophers, who our framers studied and referenced, were all consistent in their views on righteous rebellion, and the Divine Law.

Our most decorated Founding Father, John Jay, wrote about righteous warfare in Romans 13:

"On this topic the gospel is explicit. It commands us to obey the higher powers or ruler. It reminds us that “he beareth not the sword in vain”; that “he is the minister of God, and a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Now, if he is not to bear the sward in vain, it follows that he is to use it to execute wrath on evildoers, and consequently to draw blood and to kill on proper occasions. As to the second species of warfare, it certainly is as reasonable and as right that a nation be secure against injustice, disorder, and rapine from without as from within; and therefore it is the right and duty of the government or ruler to use force and the sword to protect and maintain the rights of his people against evildoers of another nation. The reason and necessity of using force and the sword being the same in both cases, the right or the law must be the same also."

As in the past, the Christian Church will always differ in the interpretation of righteous rebellion. However, the text specifically says God does not change, which would be the case if God disallowed righteous rebellion in this dispensation.


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