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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A much needed break

     Having a much needed break from school, I mention an example by a Yale Divinity student of the interesting dynamic in recent discourse within Protestant circles concerning the relationship between Natural Law and Calvinist (Reformed) tradition. There are those within the church who discard Natural Law altogether due to the emergence of secular Natural Law theory, yet in many places the scriptures seem to affirm it (Romans 2, 1 Cor 11, et al.). With this in mind, 17th and 18th century Natural Law philosophers that included Gershom Carmichael, who succeeded Francis Hutcheson as Chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow, and Founding Father John Witherspoon, apparently de-emphasized Revelation resulting in the current antagonism among some Christian commentators, which has led to a re-hash in dialogue.

     Did Witherspoon, following Reid et al., depart from Calvin's view that Natural religion should be limited in its scope to duty and judgment in favor of Natural Law as a "source for universal moral knowledge"? The answer is important to Witherspoon's on-going reputation. This narrative has also branched out into the antinomian controversy.